Jardine-Matheson & Company was founded in 1832 by the Scottish merchants William Jardine and James Matheson. Upon the dissolution of the British East India Company's monopoly over the China trade in 1834, Jardine-Matheson quickly became the most important firm in the opium trade between India and China. The company archive is currently held at the University of Cambridge library in the United Kingdom.
The structure of this path differs significantly from The Case Against Shi Hou. Where the first path is a relatively linear navigation through a single legal case about a collection of Chinese opium traders, this path recreates the global network that a British firm created and adapted in order to pursue profits in the opium business. The next page includes a map and menu that enable visitors to circumvent the linear path format and pursue their own unique journeys through the network.
Spatial History Questions for the Jardine-Matheson Global Network
What is the spatiality of profit for a company with this kind of a global network? How did the Jardine-Matheson company managers and opium ship captains make their money?
What discrete physical spaces (boats, bays, buildings, towns) were important to the operation and evolution of the Jardine-Matheson Company? What are the different ways one could evaluate the significance of spaces like the opium receiving ships, Shenhu Bay, and Macao?
How did environment and physical geography influence the company's operations and methods of seeking profit? How did Jardine-Matheson manipulate time and distance to their advantage, whether in terms of acquiring opium, selling opium, or selling insurance on opium?
This portion of the module is an ideal place to consider the concept of “space as process.” What different connections and transformations can we document as arising through the actions of the people involved in the Jardine-Matheson Global Network? How did William Jardine, James Matheson, John Rees and the other actors described in this path build and transform different geographies of profit?