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. 

Jeremy Brown
Jeremy Brown  |  Abstract
Accidents are a unique window on the social history of China since 1949. During the Mao period, such accidents as crashes and explosions were rarely reported because they tarnished the image of socialist construction. Today, archival documents, internal-circulation periodicals, and declassified dossiers tell a different story: accidents occurred frequently and were a regular site of conflict and negotiation between the party-state and people at the grassroots. My project draws on sources from 8 municipal and provincial archives to investigate how accidents and their aftermath (including battles over blame, compensation, cover-ups, and punishment) reveal alternative narratives and patterns during Mao years--and established a legacy that persists through the current day.

Assistant Professor, History, Simon Fraser University  -  A Social History of Accidents and their Aftermath in the People's Republic of China, 1949 to the Present

Xiaoqiao Ling
Xiaoqiao Ling  |  Abstract
This project focuses on remembrance of the Manchu conquest of China in memoirs and popular literary forms that reenact the traumatic events. While memoirs reflect regional differences in attitudes, fiction and drama managed to move beyond the regional borders to create a “national” narrative. And the 17th-century printing boom inspired these writers to engage the book page as a public space in which literati communities were able to transport self-identities across the traumatic divide by drawing upon a collectively remembered past. Most distinctive in the Chinese experience of trauma, as this research shows, is the degree to which remembrance is formed textually and transmitted as an instrument to construct new social communities and confirm self-identity during and after the conquest.

Assistant Professor, School of International Letters and Cultures, Arizona State University  -  (Re)Living the Manchu Conquest: Text, Community, and Identity in Seventeenth-Century China

Paul Copp
Paul Copp  |  Abstract
This project studies the worlds of anonymous 9th and 10th century Chinese Buddhist (or perhaps “Buddho-Taoist”) ritualists evidenced by manuscript handbooks from Dunhuang, a key medieval Chinese site on the eastern Silk Road. The study’s paleographic and material-historical approach identifies styles of Buddhist practice, and ways of taking texts, very different from those typically attributed to medieval Chinese. The manuscript ritual compendia studied in this project appear to have grown out of particular ritual repertoires, and to have been personal (or lineage) handbooks embedded in particular practices. They reveal hidden textual histories and a culture of ritual improvisation from a time when manuscript culture and ritual culture were closely intertwined.

Associate Professor, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago  -  Seal and Scroll: Vernacular Buddhism and Manuscript Culture at Dunhuang

Jeffrey Moser
Jeffrey Moser  |  Abstract
Excavating China’s First Archaeologist is a comprehensive examination of a recently discovered cemetery in China that contains the eleventh century remains of the important antiquarian scholar Lü Dalin and nearly thirty other members of his clan. By comparing the ritual remains preserved in the cemetery to Lü’s philosophical writings about ritual and the ceremonial standards promulgated by the imperial court, the project traces the processes by which individual ideas and state institutions influenced and integrated local cultural practices during the Song dynasty (A.D. 960-1279). In so doing, it uses microhistory to reconfigure assumptions about the social, economic, and intellectual transformations typically associated with this epochal turning point in Chinese history.

Assistant Professor, East Asian Studies / Art History and Communication Studies, McGill University  -  Excavating China's First Archaeologist

Jade D'Alpoim Guedes
Jade D'Alpoim Guedes  |  Abstract
Climate change has played a crucial role in defining trajectories of human history. However, methodological boundaries have hindered archaeologists from answering how changes in ancient climate promoted innovations in ancient subsistence practices. I will examine adaptive responses to climate change through archaeological investigation of the development of agriculture and pastoralism in one of the most ecologically marginal environments on the globe: the Eastern foothills of the Himalayas, China. By incorporating advances in the fields of ecological niche modeling and earth systems science, this project creates models that bring increased precision to evaluating the potential effects of ancient climate change on past agricultural/pastoral systems and their effect on social development.

Assistant Professor, Anthropology, Washington State University  -  High and Dry: Understanding the Movement of Agriculture and Development of Pastoralism in the Eastern Himalayas

John Osburg
John Osburg  |  Abstract
This project is an ethnographic study of a group of wealthy Han Chinese who have become followers of Tibetan Buddhism. It examines the integration of Tibetan Buddhist principles into their moral beliefs and ethical practices. The rapid spread of Tibetan Buddhism among Han Chinese has emerged in the context of a perceived “spiritual crisis” in contemporary Chinese society. This study examines how in the wake of CCP campaigns against “traditional” culture and deepening marketization and globalization, individuals attempt to reconstruct a coherent moral order by appropriating a religious tradition understood by them to be “non-modern.” These direct linkages being formed between affluent Han Chinese and Tibetan monks have the potential to dramatically reshape Sino-Tibetan relations.

Assistant Professor, Anthropology, University of Rochester  -  Tibetan Buddhism and Moral Personhood in Contemporary China

Xing Hang
Xing Hang  |  Abstract
From the late seventeenth to mid-nineteenth centuries, Chinese pioneers forged self-governing organizations on sparsely populated frontiers across Southeast Asia, from southern Vietnam to Borneo. These institutions cultivated sentiments akin to nationalism and democracy separately of contemporary European and American influences. The most successful among them morphed into independent republics lasting for over a century, led by presidents who made decisions in consultation with popularly elected assemblies. Ultimately, the settler colonies did not acquire support from the mother country of China or formulate their own symbols of legitimacy despite opportunities to do so on many occasions. Their state-building efforts faltered in the face of native kingdoms and the Europeans.

Assistant Professor, History, Brandeis University  -  Understanding the Post-Ming Diaspora from Chinese Sources

Shaohua Zhan
Shaohua Zhan  |  Abstract
This project examines the economic rise of China and concurrent social problems from a historical comparative perspective. It hypothesizes that China’s rural economic expansion in the early reform period constituted an “industrious revolution” analogous to that in the 18th century and that social leveling was a necessary precondition. An industrious revolution is defined as a development path alternative to Braudelian capitalism and different from the Industrial Revolution. The project intends to explore how the concept of industrious revolution can shed new light on long-term historical change in China and provide implications for solving contemporary development problems such as underemployment and livelihood insecurity.

Visiting Assistant Professor, Sociology, Binghamton University, State University of New York  -  A Second Industrious Revolution: Contemporary Rural Development in China through the Lens of the Eighteenth Century

Michelle T. King
Michelle T. King  |  Abstract
This research project centers on the figure of Fu Pei-mei (1931-2004), cookbook author and television personality in postwar Taiwan. Fu authored more than thirty cookbooks, many of which were bilingual Chinese-English, and was the host of Taiwan television’s first instructional program on Chinese cooking, which ran for almost four decades, beginning in 1962. Fu Pei-mei's life and career as the doyenne of Chinese cooking shed light on a number of key issues in postwar society in Taiwan, including the development of foodways as a critical national political project, shifting gender roles, and transnational constructions of Chinese/Taiwanese identity through successive generations. This project examines each of these arenas through a combination of archival, oral and digital historical methods.

Assistant Professor, History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  -  The Pei Mei Project: History, Gender and Memory Through the Pages of a Chinese Cookbook