Graduate Student Excellence-in-Research Awards 2018
Dan Du, a recent doctoral candidate in history, combines analytical methods drawn from economics, cultural studies, and material culture in an extraordinarily innovative way. Her dissertation examined the impacts of the Sino-American tea trade from 1784 through the early 20th century. During this era, global commodity markets became more integrated, European powers established colonies or foreign concessions in Chinese coastal cities, and Western consumers increasingly used exotic Asian foodstuffs. Her pathbreaking work traces the commodity chain through a huge cast of characters from peasant producers who grew the tea, men who transported it, workers who processed the leaves, Canton tea merchants (and American and British buyers), to American retailers and consumers. Unlike previous work in this field, her dissertation is culturally sensitive to Chinese, Americans and Europeans alike. Outside foundations, understanding the significance of her research, have repeatedly granted her predoctoral fellowships. She now holds a one-year visiting position at Wake Forest University.