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EUI Department of History and Civilisation

Summer Talks Series

Time & Date: 16:00- (CEST)  Wednesday 9th June 2021




Andrew Liu (Villanova University)


Factories Behind the Storefront: The four Cantonese small tigers, Hong Kong Asia-Pacific, and histories of flexibility


Giorgio Riello (EUI) and Glenda Sluga (EUI)

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First lecture within the framework of the Summer talks series “Connected histories of capitalism”


This paper is an early, speculative intervention into the nascent study of the history of the neoliberal era. I seek to expand our focus on the internal crises of “the West” in the 1960s and 1970s by looking at parallel developments across the Asia-Pacific region in the post-war period through the 1980s. First, I examine early 1980s experiments with rural, labor-intensive industrialization in Guangdong Province, powering the rise of China’s eventual export-driven industry; second, I connect this local story to broader changes in Hong Kong and east Asia as a whole, simultaneously revisiting older literature on the “east Asia miracles” and the “four small tigers of Asia” in preceding periods. Finally, I argue that it is useful to pay greater attention to Asian history as the context for the global rise of “flexible accumulation” in processes of manufacture, labor, and corporate organization, a story so familiar now to social-scientific literature on late-century globalization.

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