Past Programs

American Research in the Humanities in China Fellows

The Committee on Scholarly Communications with China (CSCC) Program awards grants to U.S. scholars for research in China for periods of 4-12 months. Funding for the program was provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The CSCC, jointly sponsored by the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Social Science Research Council, was established in 1966 to promote contacts between individual American scholars and private scholarly groups and their counterparts in China.

Please note: affiliations shown are as of time of award. Please click on fellows' names for current information.

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Watch "Emerging Themes and Methods of Research: A Discussion with ACLS Fellows," an annual meeting session featuring recent ACLS fellows. 

Shin-yi Chao
Shin-yi Chao  |  Abstract
This project studies the continuity and change in village communal religion in premodern and present-day China. Rural China has experienced a significant religious revival in the past three decades. To explore this revival, this project utilizes a case study that involves a historical cult of the Daoist (Taoist) saintly immortal, Lady Wei Huacun (251-334 AD), in a rural community in north China. The analysis first focuses on the multiplicity of religious symbolism. Various social groups, such as village-level activists, religious specialists, and state agents, contest with each other in appropriating Lady Wei cultural-religious symbols. Second, it explores the leadership of women in the rival of Lady Wei worship.

Associate Professor, Philosophy and Religion, Rutgers University-Camden  -  The Revival of Communal Religion in Rural Northern China

Wendy A. Larson
Wendy A. Larson  |  Abstract
Zhang Yimou started his career promoting ‘Chineseness’ to the world audience, but his recent perspective takes the position that the future belongs to nations that successfully engage in a brutal politics of power in which the most important struggle is for political strength, resources, and alliances that solidify their global position, by violence if necessary. Should a utopian global world ever emerge, those nations will be able to determine its shape and content, and to settle on its cultural foundation. Although it may seem that this perspective would obviate the need for a culture with Chinese characteristics, Zhang’s understanding is that national culture must be prepared for the time when globalization begins to eliminate even relatively powerful languages and cultures.

Professor, East Asian Languages and Literatures, University of Oregon  -  Chinese Culture on the Global Stage: Zhang Yimou and the Power of the Nation

Anthony E. Clark
Anthony E. Clark  |  Abstract
This project brings to light the personal lives of several European Franciscan women and Chinese women at Shanxi on the eve of the July 9, 1900, "Taiyuan Incident." Private letters, diocesan records, and the copious Processus and Positio compiled for ecclesial canonization provide a more nuanced view of the Taiyuan Incident of 1900 than the previously hagiographical accounts published immediately after the event. By consulting local Chinese gazetteers and recently opened archival materials in Shanxi, this project investigates the factors that contributed to Yuxian’s decision to suppress the Franciscan mission, and the Franciscan decision to remain in Taiyuan as Boxer activities grew more intense.

Associate Professor, History, Whitworth University  -  Friars, Fairies, and the War of Immortals: Rethinking Cultural Conflict in Late-Imperial China

Jie Li
Jie Li  |  Abstract
Taking up calls for a Cultural Revolution Museum as the Maoist era passes from experience into history and mythology, this study provides a survey of unofficial memorial sites in China today and examines private collections of Mao era dossiers, artifacts, and propaganda documentaries. In treating such traces and legacies as “utopian ruins,” it seeks to bring into productive dialogue nostalgic and traumatic public memories of the Mao era, between documentations of totalitarian crimes and erstwhile dreamscapes of bounty, equality, and community. Ultimately, this project fleshes out ways of coming to terms with manmade catastrophes that originated in revolutionary ideals and utopian longings.

Postdoctoral Fellow, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University  -  Utopian Ruins: A Memory Museum of the Maoist Era

Wenqing Kang
Wenqing Kang  |  Abstract
This project investigates the history of homosexuality in the People’s Republic of China from 1949 to the present, drawing on interviews and library and archival resources. It traces the changes of how homosexuality was experienced, discussed, and treated from the Mao era to the reform period and complicates the simple understanding of repression and liberation. This history contributes to our understanding of the Chinese socialism and the socialist modernity that the Communist government claimed to build, especially as instantiated in the regulation of bodies, pleasures, and sexual behavior.

Assistant Professor, History, Cleveland State University  -  Life in Silence: Homosexuality in the People's Republic of China

Aida Yuen Wong
Aida Yuen Wong  |  Abstract
My project explores Kang Youwei’s (1858-1927) aesthetic—its foundation, context, application, and impact. Besides being a major calligrapher and art collector, he wrote the most influential book on Chinese calligraphy in his day: Guang yizhou shuangji (Extended Paired Oars for the Boat of Art, first published in 1891 and reprinted 18 times by 1898). This project examines the fertile years after the Hundred Days Reform, when Kang diverted his activism to the cultural arena. His influence could be felt among painters, calligraphers, and art historians. While Kang's political career as a monarchist reformer has been the subject of numerous studies, this project takes a fresh look at his pivotal role in China’s modernization through the lens of art history.

Associate Professor, Fine Arts, Brandeis University  -  Kang Youwei's Aesthetic Theory, Practice, and Legacy

M B Kwan
M B Kwan  |  Abstract
This project studies the indigenization of chemical fertilizer in modern China. Contrary to the existing literature, which paints a smooth transition, the process seems to be fraught with controversies. How did foreign companies that controlled the technology and marketing of chemical fertilizer package this product of modern science to penetrate the China market? How did farmers and the Chinese government respond? As farmers “eschew the black (sullage), forget about the green (compost), will not touch the yellow (human and animal manure),” overuse of chemical fertilizers has led to environmental problems, with some agronomists calling for a return to organic and sustainable agriculture.

Associate Professor, History, University of Cincinnati  -  Improving the Earth: Chemical Fertilizer in Modern China