Dr Jose Canton-Alvarez

Dr Jose Canton-Alvarez

LSE Fellow

Department of International History

Room No
Office Hours
Thursday, 4.15pm - 6.15pm
English, German, Italian, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish
Key Expertise
History of China, Global History, Chinese Medicine

About me

Dr Jose Canton-Alvarez is an LSE Fellow in Late Imperial Chinese History. He holds a PhD in Chinese History from the University of Granada. Since graduating, he has been an Assistant Professor of Chinese History at the Faculty of Philosophy and History, University of Lodz. He recently was awarded a Ho Peng-Yoke Fellowship at the Needham Research Institute, Cambridge, where he also was granted a Jing Brand Fellowship 2017. He also was a British Inter-University China Centre Fellow at Manchester Museum in 2015. 

Jose’s research interests concern the role of opium in traditional Chinese medicine from the Song to early Qing dynasty (960-1840), the opium trade in China and Asia in the 18-19th century, international trade between China and Southeast Asia in pre- and early modern period (1350-1840), the history of European colonialism in early modern Asia, as well as the Taiping Rebellion and the Self-Strengthening Movement. His research focuses on the changing perceptions of opiates in premodern China, from the late Tang period to the advent of the Opium Wars. He is also interested in the instrumentalization of opium as a commodity by European actors in early modern Asia. Additionally, Jose has conducted research on the history of British collectors of Chinese bronzes during the wake of the Opium Wars.

Expertise Details

Early modern Chinese History (Ming-Qing); History of Chinese Medicine; International Relations in Early Modern East Asia; Early Modern Colonial History in Asia; Global History; History of Smuggling.



Canton-Alvarez, J.A. ‘From Reluctance to Reliance: Opium Smuggling in 18th-Century Macao.’ The Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 67.1, 2024 (in press) 

Canton-Alvarez, J.A. ‘A gift from the Buddhist monastery: The role of Buddhist medical practices in the assimilation of the opium poppy in Chinese medicine during Song dynasty (960-1279)', Medical History, vol. 63.4, 2019 pp. 475-493 doi:10.1017/mdh.2019.45 

Canton-Alvarez, J.A. ‘Globalisation Interrupted? The Case of Opium in the Spread of Medical Knowledge in Ming Dynasty China’, The Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, vol. 60.4, 2017 pp. 524-548 doi: 10.1163/15685209-12341429 

Cantón Álvarez, J.A. 'Opio y colonialismo: reflexiones sobre el papel del opio en la penetración colonial europea en Asia y China' [Opium and Colonialism: Reflections on the Role of Opium in the Colonial Penetration in China and Asia], Estudios de Asia y África 160, vol. 51 (2), 2016, pp. 391-412 doi: 10.24201/eaa.v51i2.2175