Speaker: Tonio Andrade (Ph.D. Yale) is Professor of History at Emory University. His main areas of expertise are Chinese history and global history with a focus on maritime interconnections in the Early Modern Period (1500-1800). His books include The Gunpowder Age: China, Military Innovation, and the Rise of the West in World History (forthcoming: 2016), Lost Colony: The Untold Story of China’s First Great Victory over the West (2011), and How Taiwan became Chinese: Dutch, Spanish, and Han Colonization in the Seventeenth Century (2008). His articles have appeared in The Journal of Asian Studies, The Journal of World History, Late Imperial China, Itinerario, The Journal of Chinese Military History, The Journal of Medieval Military History, The Journal of Early Modern History, and other journals.
Abstract: Gunpowder was invented around 800 C.E., and for more than five hundred years, the Chinese and their nearest neighbors led the word in gunpowder warfare. Yet historians have long argued that it was Europeans who eventually brought guns to their most lethal potential. To what extent was this true? And if it was true, what accounts for this military divergence? This talk investigates the comparative military history of China and Europe in the hope of answering these questions. In doing so, it addresses a larger debate in history and the social sciences: the so-called “Great Divergence” debate. I believe that warfare—and the gun in particular—may help us untangle the controversy and come to a clearer understanding of when and why China and Europe diverged.