Kaori Abe’s website

I’m a historian working on the history of modern China, the British Empire, Hong Kong, and modern East Asian history. My main research interests lie in the intersection of the cultural, social, and business histories in port cities in East and Southeast Asia.

During my PhD years, I investigated the history of Chinese economic middlemen operating in the port cities in East and Southeast Asia during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In particular, my doctoral dissertation surveyed the rise of Chinese intermediaries, called ‘compradors (買辦 maiban)’ in nineteenth century Hong Kong. A monograph, Chinese Middlemen in Hong Kong’s Colonial Economy, 1830-1890, based on my PhD dissertation, was published by Routledge in September 2017.

My postdoctoral project at Nanyang Technological University explored the Chinese responses to contagious diseases in modern South China and South East Asia. In particular, the project focused on how epidemics transformed popular beliefs and spiritual practices of the Chinese people in the South China Sea region from the late nineteenth to the early twentieth century.

From 2019 to 2022, I worked for the research project: Global Cultures of Risk: Insurance in Non-Western Contexts (1870–1980), being responsible for the subproject: the history of insurance in modern China. I taught the course on the history of European empires in Asian port cities, at the University of Basel as a guest lecturer from September to December 2021.