Jacob Fordham



jacob fordham profile




Jacob Fordham

DPhil candidate, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies



I am a DPhil candidate in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies under the supervision of Professor Henrietta Harrison. Before coming to Oxford, I completed a BA in Chinese Studies and an MA in Translation Studies at the University of Sheffield and spent two years as an exchange student at Nanjing University and Nanjing Normal University. My research interests lie in the history of China, Britain and Portugal in the Pearl River Delta and maritime Asia, as well as translation history. I am supported by the Clarendon Fund, an AHRC OOC-DTP Studentship and a University College Senior Scholarship.

DPhil topic

My DPhil thesis, based on Chinese, Portuguese and English archives, is a microhistory of the linguists (通事 or jurubaças) of the seventeenth-century Pearl River Delta and their role in the early English Canton trade. These linguists, as negotiators, brokers and mediators, were at the centre of English interaction with Chinese and Portuguese merchants and officials of Canton and Macau; in shifting the historical lens to focus on these understudied figures, I hope to shed new light on the early history of Sino-British relations.