Dr. Becker is Associate Professor in Modern European History. He joined the Department in 2002 as Visiting Assistant Professor under the auspices of the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service). He also taught in the European Studies Programme from 2002 to 2007. In 2011 he was Senior Fellow at the Alfried Krupp Kolleg in Greifswald, Germany.
Before joining the Department, he was a member of academic staff at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and a teaching fellow in Modern European and Asian History at the Free University of Berlin, the University of Rostock, and the European University Viadrina at Frankfurt-on-the-Oder.
Dr. Becker's research interests include the maritime and business histories of Europe, Hong Kong, and China (19th/20th centuries), and modern Prussian-German History. He is currently working on the biography of the shipowner and merchant, Jacob Jebsen (1870-1941), who co-founded Jebsen & Co. in Hong Kong in 1895.
Current Research Projects
Dr. Becker's main project explores transnational and global connections and exchanges between Europe and East Asia in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It employs methods of maritime-business, economic, political, and cultural history to delve into the pasts of Europe and East Asia, and of private companies and individuals.
In the centre of his research is the company Jebsen & Co., founded in 1895, one of the oldest and extant European trading houses in Hong Kong and which has branch offices in China and Taiwan. Jebsen & Co. began life as the shipping agency for the M. Jebsen Shipping Company, from Apenrade, Germany. Diversifying its business, the Hong Kong-based firm later expanded its activities to China and other parts of Asia. In 1920, northern Schleswig-Holstein was ceded to Denmark and the shipping company in Apenrade became Danish, but Jebsen & Co. continued to operate from its base in Hong Kong, with a partnership firm in Hamburg. In 2012, Dr. Becker published his biography of Michael Jebsen, the founder of the shipping company; it is the first book in a series dealing with the history of the Jebsen companies and the lives of its most important owners.
The project fits neatly into the China-West Strategic Research Theme of the Faculty of Arts of HKU, establishing important links between the arts and the business community. It is also supported by a grant from the Michael Jebsen Memorial Foundation in Hong Kong.
Dr. Becker is making the results of his research available (in English, German and some translations in Danish) in biographies, book chapters, and articles published in internationally-recognised history journals. Often utilising rarely-used primary sources from the private Jebsen & Jessen Historical Archives and over forty archives in Europe and East Asia, his work offers new insights into the history of Hong Kong and its people in a local as well as a transnational-global context.
Other research interests include the history of the French leased territory of Kwang-chow-wan (1898-1945), now Zhanjiang, and the Prussian province of Pomerania in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Dr. Becker's research has been awarded with the Faculty Research Output Prize (2008) and the Prize of the Association of Schleswig-Holstein History (2014). (See German news report and its English translation here)
Teaching and Courses Taught
Research Postgraduate Supervisions
Dr. Becker has supervised Research Postgraduates in the following areas: