In the era of the Canton Trade (c. 1700–1842), China was the source of products and commodities that were avidly sought after by international traders and consumers alike. France, which was home to one of the three major East India companies, was a key participant in this trade, as well as one of the the eighteenth century’s two most important Western powers. Yet the French remain surprisingly underrepresented in Canton Trade scholarship. To ignore the French, or to dismiss them as simply “also-rans,” results in a skewed perception of the Canton System, a full and accurate understanding of which requires that all participating nations and ethnicities be included. Drawing on sources from other East India companies and archives as well as from those of France, Sino-French Trade at Canton, 1698–1842 rescues the French from the shadows, presents considerable new findings and corrects a number of misconceptions, and also makes available in English a wealth of information that was previously accessible only in French.
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