Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Program in China Studies: Postdoctoral Fellowships

The Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Program in China Studies seeks to maintain the vitality of China Studies in the US and Canada through fellowships and grants designed primarily for scholars early in their careers.

Early Career Fellowships support scholars in preparing their PhD dissertation research for publication or in embarking on new research projects.

This program is made possible by a generous grant from The Henry Luce Foundation, with additional funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Read more about this fellowship program.

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. 

Daniel Asen
Daniel Asen  |  Abstract
The coroners who served in Beijing's local procuracy during the first decades of the twentieth century were unique witnesses to China’s transformation into a modern state and society. Many wondered whether coroners could serve the needs of the new order that arose in China after the collapse of the Qing in 1911. The techniques that they used to find cause of death had developed under the fallen empire, an ambivalent source of authority in a new intellectual climate that valorized Western science. This project traces the process through which Beijing’s new urban public debated and ultimately accepted coroners' indigenous field of expert knowledge as both a constituent element of Chinese modernity and an alternative to Western forensic science.

Visiting Assistant Professor, History, University of Pittsburgh  -  On the Case with the Coroners of Beijing: Law, Science, and City Life in Modern China

Paize Keulemans
Paize Keulemans  |  Abstract
In 17th-century China, amidst expanding print culture and political disintegration, printed forms of “idle chatter” proved remarkably productive. By simulating oral discourse, textual forms of gossip imbued growing but impersonal networks of print with a sense of intimacy. In an age of autocratic rule, printed “gossip” allowed political dialogue under the guise of disinterested chitchat. Moreover, if pre-modern China is often viewed as mired in the past, gossip reveals a rich discourse invested in the present. In comparison with modern western notions of news, China’s seventeenth-century gossip shows that the exchange of information about current events need not take the form of objective rational and public discourse for it to produce politically engaged and critically informed readers.

Assistant Professor, East Asian Studies, Princeton University  -  Idle Chatter: The Productive Uses of Gossip in Seventeenth-Century Chinese Literature

Liana Chen
Liana Chen  |  Abstract
Staging the Empire: A History of Qing Court Theatre, 1662-1924 explores and analyzes the role of theatre at the imperial court of the Qing (1644-1911) and during the early years of Republican China. It examines the dialectical relationships between theatre and the social and ritual systems that shaped the life of the Qing court society. Court-commissioned dramas joined other objet d’art to form a concerted campaign to promote imperial ideologies. The study is one of the first to provide a contextualized reading of the texts and performances of ceremonial dramas in both public and private court settings. The book uses newly discovered archival sources to explore the complex ways in which patrons, performers and spectators negotiated the court theatre’s dual functions as entertainment and ritual.

Assistant Professor, East Asian Languages and Literatures, The George Washington University  -  Staging the Empire: A History of Qing Court Theatre, 1662 to 1924

Judd Creighton Kinzley
Judd Creighton Kinzley  |  Abstract
Resources such as gold, oil, iron and tungsten played a central role in the twentieth century transformation of China’s imperial frontiers into national borders. Focusing on a series of campaigns to gain access to the rich natural resource wealth of China’s westernmost province of Xinjiang, my work seeks to recast the state and nation building process in China’s far west. Far from a top-down story of inexorable national integration, the case of Xinjiang reveals a decentralized, lurching process characterized as much by contingency, cross-border collaboration, and luck as much as it was by central state power.

Assistant Professor, History, University of Wisconsin-Madison  -  Staking Claims to China's Borderland: Oil, Ores, and State Building in Xinjiang, 1893 to 1964

Matthew Steven Erie
Matthew Steven Erie  |  Abstract
This proposal is for a dissertation-to-book project based on a decade of research with nineteen months of fieldwork between 2009 to 2012. Fieldwork was conducted in Linxia City, Gansu province, China, to study the contemporary practice of shari'a among Chinese Muslims (Hui) and the ways in which Hui reconcile their obligations under Islamic law with socialist state law. The project investigates the relationship between multiple sources of authority, patriarchy, and law in Linxia or "China's Little Mecca," including shari'a, custom, and state law during a time of both Islamic revival and increasing state control. The book describes shari'a in the fields of purity, devotion, and family law and differences in interpretation among "teaching schools."

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, Cornell University  -  The Prophet and the Party: Shari'a and Sectarianism in China's Little Mecca

Shellen Xiao Wu
Shellen Xiao Wu  |  Abstract
My project traces the historical roots of geopolitical discourse in China. Although the connection between politics and geography was by no means a new phenomenon either in the West or in China, two new factors came into play in the twentieth century. First, the wide-ranging influence of social Darwinism extended biological metaphors to territorial conceptualization. Second, decades of political crisis and domestic strife followed by foreign invasion radicalized Chinese intellectuals and scientists and gave credence to the idea of states engaged in a battle for survival and access to natural resources.

Assistant Professor, History Department, University of Tennessee, Knoxville  -  Geography and the Fate of Chinese Civilization: the Rise of Geopolitical Discourse in Twentieth Century China

Michael J. Hathaway
Michael J. Hathaway  |  Abstract
This project explores how rural people in China are negotiating two simultaneous trends: the implementation of increasingly strict environmental laws and growing participation in global markets. The resulting book examines one example, Southwest China's recent creation of a vast network of pickers, dealers, and exporters that trade in a valuable wild mushroom with Japan. The study traces the origins, transformations and unexpected social outcomes with this trade, using historical and ethnographic methods. It contributes to studies on China's environment, ethnic politics, and globalization. The fieldwork and archival study is mainly complete, and requires one last period of research to answer some remaining questions and fill in some gaps in the historical record.

Assistant Professor, Anthropology and Sociology, Simon Fraser University  -  Emerging Matsutake Worlds: Markets, Science and Nature in Southwest China