Elizabeth Ingleson will be a postdoctoal fellow at Southern Methodist University beginning in the fall of 2018. She received her doctorate in history from the University of Sydney in 2017. A mandarin speaker, in 2017, she was based in Guilin, China. Ingleson’s research explores the relationships between trade, politics, and labour. Her current book project, Making Made in China: Race, Politics, and Labor in 1970s Sino-American Trade, examines these issues through a social and political history of the origins of the contemporary Sino-American trade relationship. Prior to her doctoral studies, she worked at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in Canberra.
The End of Isolation: Rapprochement, Globalisation, and American Trade with China, 1972-1979
She explores businesspeople as crucial agents of diplomacy, looking at the American trade culture that developed, and applying cultural and business history methodologies to the diplomatic history of rapprochement. Additionally, she explores the American political ideas about trade with China, which assumed burgeoning trade ties would assist the rapprochement process by creating mutual interests from which political negotiations could develop. This reflected the 1970s context in which the notion of interdependence became a key idea in American foreign policy: an idea that was in many ways a precursor to that of globalization. Her research raises questions about the relationships between politics, economics, culture and business in America. She argues that even though America’s trade with China in the 1970s was important politically, by the end of the decade rather than shaping the politics of rapprochement the reverse became true. The trade between the two countries was instead substantially influenced by political considerations, none more so than the political desire for interdependence. The historical experience of the 1970s shows the nuances in the contemporary correlation made between trade and peace in Sino-American relations. Rather than a linear dynamic, politics deeply influenced trade, highlighting the key role that deliberate cultivation and political willpower played in supporting and encouraging what is today the world’s most important trade relationship.