Objects in Northern Irish collections associated with the Chinese Maritime Customs

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The Chinese Maritime Customs allowed Britain to exercise enormous influence and control over the governance and international trade of China in the nineteenth century. The Maritime Customs was also a kind of imperium in imperio, with a substantial degree of autonomy from both the Chinese and British governments. This fiefdom was, at least in part, a Hart family enterprise, with the Hart clan as what Hans van de Ven has called a ‘Northern Irish Customs Service aristocracy’. For two-thirds of the Maritime Customs’ history, a member of the Hart family was in charge of it.

This paper surveys some of the objects and material heritage associated with the Maritime Customs which are now held in collections and Northern Ireland, and locates these objects within debates about the afterlives of empire in UK/Ireland heritage collections and within wider debates about museum decolonisation.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 09 Apr 2022
EventIreland, Museums, Empire, Colonialism Conerence 2022 - Ulster Museum and Queen's University, Belfast, United Kingdom
Duration: 08 Apr 202209 Apr 2022


ConferenceIreland, Museums, Empire, Colonialism Conerence 2022
Abbreviated titleIMEC 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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