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. 

Elad Alyagon
Elad Alyagon  |  Abstract
This is a study of common soldiers in the armies of the Song dynasty. While previous scholarship has focused on the institutional, strategic, and political aspects of the history of the Song military, this study focuses on the army as a meeting place between lower class commoners and elites. It shows the military to be a space where the identity of a new lower class was molded and negotiated in a constant struggle between common soldiers and the agents of the state. My research tells the story of the rise of the Song’s penal-military complex, a vast organization for social control that gave birth to the tattooed soldiers of Song, a new criminalized lower class. The study explores the relationships between class, gender, state building, violence, crime, and the military.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of California, Davis  -  Inked: Song Soldiers, Military Tattoos, and the Remaking of the Chinese Lower Class, 960 to 1279

Xiao Liu
Xiao Liu  |  Abstract
This project examines scientific practices and popular imaginations surrounding information technologies, cybernetics and systems theory in post-Mao China (1978-1989), and asks how China’s information fantasies were intertwined with its postsocialist transformations in all arenas. While there is increasing scholarship on Chinese internet culture and politics, my research unearths a heretofore neglected history of China’s participation in the global production and circulation of information technologies and discourses even before the general implementation of digital media and the internet. This project therefore provides a much-needed historical perspective to understanding the sociopolitical environments and cultural ferments for the adoption of new information technologies in post-Mao China.

Assistant Professor, East Asian Studies, McGill University  -  Information Fantasies and Technological Imaginations in Post-Mao China, 1978-1989

Nellie Chu
Nellie Chu  |  Abstract
My project studies the growing numbers of pastor-entrepreneurs from the Congo, Liberia, Nigeria, the Ivory Coast, and South Korea who have settled in the historic port of Guangzhou. The combination of their ministries with their entrepreneurial endeavors in Guangzhou has challenged assumptions that industrialization and financial expansion in post-socialist China are entirely secular and state-driven projects. Their activities also highlight the racial and ethnic dynamics of transnational migration and global capitalism that shape China’s post-socialist transformations. My work shows how African and Korean pastors who have established churches in Guangzhou link transnational Christian and business ties with their aspirational pursuits for entrepreneurial and religious freedom.

Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Transregional Research Network, Georg August Universität Göttingen, Germany  -  Global Prayers in the Workshop of the World: African and South Korean Pastor-Entrepreneurs in Guangzhou, China

Rachel Silberstein
Rachel Silberstein  |  Abstract
The Luce/ACLS China Studies Postdoctoral Fellowship will be spent writing my book, Embroidered Figures: Commerce and Culture in Nineteenth-Century Chinese Women’s Fashions. The book is based on my DPhil dissertation (University of Oxford, 2014) but will be augmented through research in museums, archives, and libraries in Suzhou, Shanghai and Guangzhou. The book uses collections of Chinese women’s dress and accessories to tell a new story about women as consumers and producers in nineteenth-century China. It is a history of how the commercialisation of textile handicrafts and the flourishing of urban popular culture transformed Qing women’s engagement with fashionable dress.

Visiting Assistant Professor, History of Art and Visual Culture, Rhode Island School of Design  -  Embroidered Figures: Commerce and Culture in Nineteenth-Century Chinese Women’s Fashions

Anna Jane High
Anna Jane High  |  Abstract
The Chinese state has an official monopoly, established in law and policy, on the institutional care of orphans. In practice, a proliferation of private orphanages and foster homes have emerged in recent decades to address gaps in state welfare provision. This socio-legal project, based on my PhD dissertation, to be augmented with updated fieldwork, examines the regulation of quasi-legal foreign-run private orphanages and foster homes in China, and the informal 'one eye open, one eye closed' relationships between such homes and government that structure this social sphere. My research is framed by, and will contribute to, socio-legal theory on law in action and law as culture, and is relevant to studies of NGO law and policy more generally.

Postdoctoral Scholar, School of Law, Loyola University Chicago  -  ‘One Eye Open, One Eye Closed’: The Role and Regulation of China’s Foreign-Run Orphanages

Catherine Stuer
Catherine Stuer  |  Abstract
My project examines how early 20th-century Chinese and European archaeologists and art-historians used photography as a means to lay competitive claim to disciplinary narratives about China’s cultural remains. It counts among the first studies dedicated to investigating the role of photography in the formation of the discipline of Chinese art history, and will be the first comparative study of its kind. By tracing the creation, circulation and appropriation of these photographs by different scholars and publishers, I reconstruct the trajectories that lent some iconic status, while relegating others to oblivion. My project thus reads early art histories against the grain, and argues that competition for photographic vision was driven both by a desire for ownership of a disciplinary subject and narrative, and by competing regimes of spatial production. In so doing, this study connects photography’s role in the geographical imagination to its role in the formation of modern disciplinary subjects.

Assistant Professor, Art History and Visual Culture, Denison University  -  The Disciplinary Lens: Photographic Vision, Cultural Remains, and Early Chinese Art History and Archaeology

Andrew Liu
Andrew Liu  |  Abstract
My study analyzes the transformative competition between the tea-growing hinterlands of China and India in transnational and comparative terms. It offers a new interpretation of rural China, so often depicted as parochial and static, by situating it within global and dynamic patterns. Past macroeconomic studies have emphasized questions of growth, characterizing Asia in terms of its divergence from English development. By contrast, I argue that a different approach, one emphasizing global connections and focused on labor practices and economic thought, reveals that China and India were reshaped by the same social dynamics of industrial capitalism facing much of the world. In turn, this work expands the history of capitalism into the unlikely sites of the Chinese and Indian "tea countries."

Assistant Professor, History, Villanova University  -  Tea Countries: Labor and Political Economic Thought in China and India, 1834 to 1937

Ting Zhang
Ting Zhang  |  Abstract
This research focuses on the production and reception of legal knowledge, and the role of legal information in the formation of early modern Chinese legal culture. Combined the methodologies used in the fields of print culture and legal history, I argue that commercial publishers had greater power and influence in producing authoritative legal texts than official publishers. Commercial publishers and the book market, rather than the Qing state, played the leading role in the dissemination of accurate legal information. Qing people had access to accurate legal information through commercial legal imprints and community legal lectures, and many of them were quite familiar with the laws. The commercial printing revolution fundamentally transformed China’s judicial system and legal culture.

Assistant Professor, History, University of Maryland, College Park  -  Information and Power: Printing, Law, and the Making of Early Modern Chinese Legal Culture, 1644 to 1911