Carl Kubler is a global historian of modern China and peoples of Chinese descent. His scholarship and teaching sit at the intersection of Chinese history, Asian American history, and diaspora studies and center on how the forces of trade, migration, and cross-cultural encounter shape everyday life, with particular emphasis on the history of contact between China and the West. Kubler’s research has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, Social Science Research Council, Mellon Foundation, Fulbright Program, Henry Luce Foundation, and Association for Asian Studies, among others.
His current book project, titled Beyond Conflict: Global Trade and Everyday Relations between China and the West, 1780-1860, examines the dynamics of socioeconomic opportunity seeking and conflict resolution between merchants, sailors, sex workers, interpreters, coolies, cooks, pirates, and other liminal actors whose global circulations helped shape the course of Sino-Western relations in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Combining a granular focus on the microeconomies of China's Pearl River Delta with a broad scope that spans six continents and draws on sources across eight languages, Kubler pushes back against conflict-centered narratives of Chinese-foreigner interaction and shows that mutually incentivized problem solving, rather than conflict, better characterized transnational relations on the ground level. His doctoral dissertation, on which this book is based, won the 2022-2023 World History Association Dissertation Prize for the best dissertation in world, global, or transnational history.
Kubler’s second book project addresses the history of Asian migration and labor in the Americas. Drawing upon the diasporic experiences of Chinese and Indian sailors and other migrant workers who circulated along American, British, Portuguese, and Spanish trade routes throughout the Atlantic World, this project traces the evolving relationship between free migration and bonded labor over the long nineteenth century, with particular emphasis on the development of the “coolie trade” or trafficking of Asian indentured laborers to Latin America and the Caribbean.
Kubler received his Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago in 2022. Prior to his doctoral training, he earned a Graduate Certificate in Chinese and American Studies from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center and worked in the bio-tech industry for several years. He holds a B.A. from Yale University.
Ph.D.: University of Chicago, 2022