The Liberal Art University in Hong Kong
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FICHTER, James R. (馮建明)
Associate Professor

Tel.: (852) 2616-8316
Fax.: (852) 2467-7478

Academic & Professional Qualifications

Ph.D., Harvard University, History, 2006
M.A., Harvard University, History, 2003
B.A., Brown University, History and International Relations, 2001

Areas of Interest

Early American history, Atlantic history, British imperial history, global history, the US in the world, Amercian studies, business history, economic history, environmental history, and the history of American-Chinese relations.


  • Books
  • Articles
  • Book Reviews
  • Conference Presentations
  • Research Interests and Projects
  • Others


In print:

So Great a Proffit: How the East Indies Transformed Anglo-American Capitalism (Harvard University Press, 2010).

Thomas J. Wilson Prize, Harvard University Press (2009)
Honorable Mention, Ralph Gomory Prize from the Business History Conference (2011)

This book has been reviewed in The New Republic (online), the Journal of the Early Republic, the Journal of American History, Journal of Economic History,, Asian Studies, and the South China Morning Post, among other publications.

In preparation:

Passage to India: The Suez Canal and  the Anglo-French Empires in Asia, 1798-1885.

Argues that the simultaneously competitive and cooperative relationship between Britain and France in opening and maintaining the Suez route to Asia in the period, 1798-1885 led to significant degrees of British and French interdependence in Asia in vital areas of imperial infrastructure, including coal, collier firms, mail ships, telegraph lines, and naval manufacture and repair. Such interdependence forced Britain and France to collaborate, spurring both countries' empire and trade more swiftly than either state could have done alone. Considers Britain and France in the broader Indo-Pacific maritime arena, including Egypt, the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, the China Seas, and Australasia. Received a GRF, a major Hong Kong external grant, to fund teaching relief and archival work. Began June 2010. December 2012 delivery date.

James Fichter and Mark Hampton, eds., Imperial State of Mind: Culture and the British Imperial World, 1707-1997. Projected completion: 2012.

James Fichter and Mark Hampton, eds., New Perspectives on Britain in Asia.. Projected completion: 2012.

Living with Death: Adaptation and Syncretism in British Folk Medicine in the Empire, 1607-1800

This book will consider the divergent cultural responses to disease in the different epidemiological regions of the First British Empire, with a particular emphasis on settlers' adaptation and/or rejection of African and Native American medical practice. In considering the empire as a whole, it seeks to integrate the environmental and/or demographic zones artificially divided by US independence. Thus the book considers New England, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland together and likewise considers the Bahamas with the coastal Lower South and portions of the Caribbean.

The Other Side: Chinese-American Relations from Origins to Present

Developing out of my experience teaching the history of Chinese-American relations, this  book is aimed at undergraduates in both greater China and the United States. It considers the Chinese relationship with the United States in the context of contemporaneous Chinese foreign relations and Chinese domestic history and likewise considers the US relationship with China in the broader context of US foreign relations and domestic history. Addressing Chinese and American audiences simultaneously, this book encourages students of one country to consider how students or citizens of the other country might interpret a given event differently than they do.


In print:

"The American Maritime Frontier and the British Empire on Tristan da Cunha, 1811-1816". -Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History (2008).

In preparation:

“The Myth of Tea: Tea Consumption Discourse in the American Revolution, 1773-1776”

Challenges the standing consumption-as-politics analysis of tea protest in the American Revolution. After first considering shifts in American per capita tea consumption before and after the Revolution this article presents a longitudinal survey of tea advertisements from 25 American newspapers for the period, 1773-1776, showing the persistence of tea consumption discourse after the Boston Tea Party. This article also considers the significance of Loyalist women as leaders of the anti-Patriot resistance and discusses the integration of tea into Patriot daily life in Revolutionary America.
Under review.

“From Captivity to Reprisal: Narrative and the Emergence of U.S. Power in the Indian Ocean, 1806-1838”

Analyzes how accounts of piracy against U.S. merchantman in the Indian Ocean first precluded then afforded the possibility of a US naval response in the run-up to the first US naval action in Asia independent of the British security umbrella in 1832.
Under review.

“Baptism, Marriage, Race, Slavery and Family in the Bahamas, 1733-1833” in James Fichter and Mark Hampton, eds., Imperial State of Mind: Culture and the British Imperial World, 1707-1997.

“The Culture of Anglo-French Interdependence in China during the Second Opium War” in James Fichter and Mark Hampton, eds., New Perspectives on Britain in Asia.

«L'empire birtannique de la France en Asie, 1815-1870» [France's British Empire in Asia, 1815-1870] Histoire, économie et société. Invited article.

Co-editor of special issue of Media History on media in the British Empire.

Co-editor of special issue of Britain and the World on the British Empire in Asia. (Fall 2012)

Book Reviews:

“Trade and Society in the Straits of Melaka: Dutch Melaka and English Penang, 1780-1830” Nordin Hussin, H-Albion.

“China Trade and Empire, 1827-1843” Alain Le Pichon, ed., Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Hong Kong (forthcoming).

“The Economy of Early America: Historical Perspectives & New Directions,” Cathy Matson, ed., in Common-place, Vol. 7, no. 1, October 2006.

Conference Presentations:

Invited Talks

“Imperial Interdependence, Imperial Rivals: Britain and France in India, China, Southeast Asia, Japan and the Middle East, 1854-1864” Cambridge University. November 2011.

"Britain's French Empire/France's British Empire: Imperial Infrastructure East of Suez, 1815-1869” French Studies Department, University of Birmingham. December 2010.

«Empires et négoce. Le cas de la concurrence américaine et des mutations impériales britanniques (mi XVIIIe - mi XIXe s.)» [Empires and Merchants. The case of the American convergence and the transformation of the British Empire, c. 1750-1850] at the séminar: "Empires. Histoire des colonisations." École Normale Supérieure, Paris. December 2010.



“Nation, Empire, and Identity: Asia and the Early Republic” Omohundro Institute Annual Conference. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA. June  2012. Panel Commentator.

-panel under consideration

Oceanic Archives and Transnational American Studies. Hong Kong University. June 2012. Symposium Participant.

“Anglo-French Gunboat Diplomacy in the Qing Maritime Frontier, 1842-1870.” Defining the Jecen  -- the Evolution of the Qing Frontier, 1644-1918. Hong Kong University and Hong Kong Baptist University. May 2012.

-panel under consideration

“Getting to East Of Suez: French Imperialism in the Second Empire and the Celebration of the Suez Canal in 1869” Society for the Study of French History. Cambridge University. July 2011.

“Empire State of Mind: Articulations of Britishness in the Empire, 1707-1997” Lingnan University, Hong Kong. May 2011.

Conference co-organizer.

“Passages to India: Suez, the Overland Route and British-French Interdependency, 1840-1870.” at “Empire state of Mind: Articulations of Britishness in the Empire, 1707-1997” Lingnan University, Hong Kong. May 2011.

“Navigators of Global Trade in the Canton Era (ca. 1700-1840)” Conference Panel Chair and Discussant. Association of Asian Studies Annual Conference. Honolulu, HI. Apr 2011.

American Enterprise, European Empire: U.S. Capitalists in Asia in the Age of Revolutions, 1793-1815” at Encompass Conference, “Monsoon Asia in the Age of Revolutions (1780 - 1830): Changes of Regime and their Aftermath.” Mumbai, India. January 2010

Living with Death: Local and Imperial Medical Cultures in Port on St. Helena, 1659–1833” in the panel, “Port Cities and Urban Identity” at American Historical Association. San Diego, CA. January 2010

“Cape Town, Mauritius, Batavia and Manila in the Indo-Pacific World, 1793-1815: Toward a Trans-imperial History,” in the Forum on European Expansion and Global Interaction panel “Weaving the Webs of Empire: Connections and Confrontations in the Early Modern World” American Historical Association, New York City, January 2009.

“The Persistence of Revolution: U.S. Tea Consumption and Trade from the Boston Tea Party through the Early Republic, 1773-1815,” in the panel, “The Persistence of Empire: Linen, Tea and Free and Slave Mariners in the American Economy, 1773-1815.” American Historical Association. Washington, D.C. January 2008.

“Creating Millionaires: Identity and Image in American Merchant Society, 1793-1815” at Early American History in Global Perspective. Fulbright Foundation, U.S. State Department, and Nankai University, Tianjin, China. May 2007.

“Cape Town, Mauritius, and Batavia in the Indo-Pacific World, 1793-1815: An International History” at the Indian and Pacific Crossings Conference. Edith Cowan University and the Western Australia Museum. Freemantle, Australia. December 2006.

“Napoleon Bonaparte and the Mythical Invasion of India, 1798-1799” Western Society for French History. Long Beach, CA. October 2006.

“The First Generation of American Millionaires: Being Rich in the Early Republic, 1793-1815,” Society for Historians of the Early American Republic Annual Meeting. Montreal, Quebec. July 2006.

Research Interests and Projects:

In addition to the in-progress books and articles mentioned previously, I have several other projects including trans-atlantic studies of tea and coffee prices, consumption and taste formation. I am also examining the social history of St. Helena in the broader context of the early modern British Empire.



"Tales From the Vault," in Common-place, Vol. 7, No. 2, January 2007.