Theses Doctoral

From the Chinese Guan to the Mexican Chocolatero: A Tactile History of the Transpacific Trade, 1571-1815

Priyadarshini, Meha

The dissertation follows the trajectory of one of the commodities of the transpacific trade, Chinese porcelain, from the city of Jingdezhen where it was produced, to Manila where it was sold to Spanish merchants, on to Mexico, where it was adopted by the colonial society. The study ends in the city of Puebla where potters drew inspiration from Chinese porcelain for the invention of a new ceramic style known as loza poblana.

The methodology of following the trajectory of Chinese porcelains through various sites reveals a new kind of history, one where the tactile aspects of the circulation of goods become salient. The places, contexts, and transactions that the commodities passed through are more prominent--the trade is no longer an abstract exchange between different parties or an endeavor driven purely by imperial greed. Instead it emerges as a process that developed from an interaction between global material forces and local histories and contingencies. Such a tactile history also provides details about the movement and transfer of aesthetics in the early modern period, as seen in the case of the design of the Chinese guan, a jar form, that was adapted to make the Mexican chocolatero.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
McKeown, Adam
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 24, 2014