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Dr. Isabella Jackson

Dr Isabella Jackson

Assistant Professor in Chinese History


Research Interests

I arrived at Trinity in 2015, after lecturing at the Universities of Aberdeen and Oxford. I research the modern history of China and am Principal Investigator on an Irish Research Council Laureate Grant, CHINACHILD: Slave-girls and the Discovery of Female Childhood in Twentieth-century China. Together with a team of researchers, I am researching how controversies over keeping unpaid domestic servants (binü婢女 or mui tsai) reflect changing and expanding conceptions of Chinese childhood.

My previous publications focus on the global and regional networks that shaped the treaty ports, which were opened to foreign traders by force in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and I remain interested in these issues. I have focused in particular on:

  • The International Settlement at the heart of Shanghai, looking at the transnational form of colonialism in practice there and how it functioned on the ground in the form of the Shanghai Municipal Council. My monograph, Shaping Modern Shanghai: Colonialism in China’s Global City, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2017.
  • The interconnections between China and the British World, especially India, through my work on the Sikh policemen who worked in the Settlement.
  • The evolving Chinese perspectives on and representations of the foreign presence in Shanghai, demonstrating the ways in which political authorities appropriate the past to serve conflicting aims.

Select Publications

Articles and Book chapters

  • ‘The Shanghai Scottish: Scottish, Imperial and Local Identities, 1914-41’ in T. M. Devine and Angela McCarthy (eds), The Scottish Experience in Asia, c.1700 to the Present: Settlers and Sojourners (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies series, 2017), pp. 235-57
  • ‘Habitability in the Treaty Ports: Shanghai and Tianjin’, in Toby Lincoln and Xu Tao (eds), The Habitable City in China: Urban History in the Twentieth Century (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), pp. 169-91
  • ‘Who ran the treaty ports? A study of the Shanghai Municipal Council’, in Robert Bickers and Isabella Jackson (eds), Treaty Ports in Modern China: Law, Land and Power (London: Routledge, 2016), pp. 43-60
  • ‘Expansion and Defence in the International Settlement at Shanghai’, in Robert Bickers and Jonathan Howlett, eds, Britain and China, 1840-1970: Empire, Finance and War (London: Routledge, 2015), pp. 187-204
  • ‘Chinese Colonial History in Comparative Perspective’, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 15:3 (2014)
  • ‘The Raj on Nanjing Road: Sikh Policemen in Treaty-Port Shanghai’, Modern Asian Studies, 46:2 (2012), 1672-1704. Translated into Chinese: 南京路上的影印统治:条约口岸上海的锡克巡捕 Nanjing Lu shang de Ying-Yin tongzhi: tiaoyue kou'an Shanghai de Xike xunbu, 上海史国际论丛Shanghai shi guoji luncong (International Review of Shanghai History), No. 2 (2015), 63-92

Teaching and Supervision

In the Department of History I teach the Sophister modules ‘China 1911-1949: From Republican Revolution to Communist Revolution’ and ‘Childhood in Modern Global History. I also co-coordinate the Fresher module ‘Imperialism to Globalism: Europe and the World 1860-1970’ and contribute to MPhil International History and Public History modules. In the Trinity Centre for Asian Studies, I teach modules on the MPhil in Chinese Studies: ‘Modern Chinese History’ (also offered to MPhil International History students) and ‘Early 20th Century Chinese History’. I also contribute to the Broad Curriculum module ‘Introduction to Asian Studies’.

I am currently supervising PhD students working on the material culture of western medical objects introduced to late Qing and Republican China, Ulster and Irish identity among employees of the Chinese Maritime Customs Service, and representations of Republican Chinese history in contemporary China. I welcome approaches from potential research students interested in working on Chinese childhood in modern history, colonialism in China or the interaction of western and Chinese people, politics, culture, and society in the nineteenth and/or twentieth centuries.

Dr. Jackson on the TCD Research Support System

Contact Details

Room 3120
Department of History
Trinity College
Dublin 2
Telephone: +353 1 896 3166
Fax: +353 1 896 3995