Tianjin Under Nine Flags

Interior of Gordon Hall prior to the opening banquet (1889). Collection Otto Franke, Berlin. Courtesy of Dr. Renata Fu-sheng Franke, Otto Franke's granddaughter.Between 1860 and 1945, Tianjin was the site of up to nine foreign-controlled concessions, as well as, temporarily, a multi-national military government (1900-02), and a series of evolving municipal administrations. Tianjin provides an exemplary model for the study of comparative colonial practices. Tianjin was opened as a treaty port as a consequence of the 18 October 1860 Conventions of Beijing. The British, the French, and the American concessions were the earliest to be created in Tianjin, in 1860. By the mid nineteenth century, Tianjin was opened up to foreign trade, and the importance of Tianjin was further enhanced by the railway system connecting the city with Beijing on the one hand (since 1897) and with Shanhaiguan and Manchuria on the other. Situated close to the imperial capital, and, crucially, at the crossroads between the advances of European and Japanese imperialisms, Tianjin's economic and strategic importance necessarily drew the attention of all the major international powers: by 1901, nine separate foreign concessions had been secured within Tianjin.

The research aims at producing a comparative and trans-national analysis of the identities, practices and rivalries of five of the major powers established in Tianjin: Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia.