Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Program in China Studies: Predissertation-Summer Travel Grants

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.  Studies on and in China have developed over the last 30 years in North America into a robust field, but current conditions pose daunting problems, especially for scholars just before and just after the dissertation.

Predissertation travel grants provide funding for graduate students to explore venues and make preliminary research arrangements, and to gain advice from potential collaborators regarding subsequent research in China.

This program is made possible by a generous grant from The Henry Luce Foundation.

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. 

Kyle Ellison David
Kyle Ellison David  |  Abstract
My dissertation examines how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) mobilized children between 1921 to 1949. Focusing on rural north China, I demonstrate that the CCP began structuring the daily lives of children in the early 1920s. This regimentation became increasingly militant during the second Sino-Japanese war (1937-45), when the CCP began recruiting children aged seven to fifteen into a paramilitary organization, the Communist Children's League (CCL). In the early 1940s, the CCL boasted a membership of approximately 200,000 children, many of whom aided front-line soldiers and even participated in combat. My project reveals not only the lived experience of children during this tumultuous historical period, but also how the CCP envisioned children and and their role in nation-building.

, History, University of California, Irvine  -  Conceiving the Communist Child: Growing Up in War and Revolution, 1921 to 1949

Xiaojing Miao
Xiaojing Miao  |  Abstract
Tang fu, which constitutes a significant part of the literary landscape of the Tang yet has been largely neglected in scholarship, is the subject of this proposed dissertation. In this dissertation, I intend to study how the literati, officials, and occasionally emperors during the first century and a half of the Tang understood fu; what role the fu played, especially in relation to politics; and most importantly, what the characteristics of fu were at the time, including its relationship with previous fu traditions and its particular developments through the mid-eighth century. Of course I expect that my ideas, as well as the precise organization of the dissertation, will necessarily develop and perhaps change in the course of my research.

, Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Colorado, Boulder  -  The Fu (Rhapsody) of Early and High Tang (618 to 756)

Jia Feng
Jia Feng  |  Abstract
Usually considered as the summit of despotic rule in Chinese history, the Qing, however, displayed tremendous complexities in its institutional arrangements such that seemingly “despotic” arrangements were often countermanded by institutional checks generated in them. This project proposes to understand a fundamental paradox of Qing history, by examining an unusual yet understudied fiscal arrangements that separated the privy purse from state treasury. By providing a historical account of the imperial fiscal separation during the Qing, this project will not only address a major gap in our knowledge concerning institutions and the Qing emperorship, but suggest new ways to understand the classic “minority rule” question.

, History, University of California, Los Angeles  -  The Emperor’s Coffer: the Qing Imperial Fiscal Separation Between Privy Purse and State Treasury, 1644 to 1912

Lillian Prueher
Lillian Prueher  |  Abstract
This project examines how “Western” eldercare models are entering and transforming within the Chinese medical landscape. Specifically, it considers how demographic shifts, a weakened “post-Socialist” welfare system, and rapid economic development and internationalization collectively shape eldercare approaches. Through two years of ethnographic fieldwork – interviews and participant observation at three sites in Chengdu – this research considers how the perspectives of elderly patients, families and professional caregivers influence one another, care practices and institutional norms. This work relates to (1)the relationship between individuals, society and the state, (2)cross-cultural institutional adaptation, and (3)social transformations of value systems and concepts of personhood.

, Anthropology, University of Washington  -  Shifting Care Landscapes: Non-Familial Elder Care in Chengdu, China

Rui Hua
Rui Hua  |  Abstract
The dissertation examines the politics of Sino-Russo-Japanese collaboration and the nature of the Manchurian borderland intellectual space before and during the early years of Manchukuo (1932-1945). It explores how Sinophone intellectuals mobilized legacies of the Qing empire and the transnational Manchurian borderland to resist global imperialism, both Japanese and Western, in a transient window of political uncertainty in southern Manchuria shortly before and after the Mukden incident. From the local self-governance movements to the drafting of the Manchukuo constitution, these intellectuals experimented with various anti-imperialist projects to challenge received notions of nation and modernity from their margins. Although doomed by militarism, these defiant utopias still find resonance today.

, History, Harvard University  -  The Defiant Manchukuo: Sino-Russo-Japanese Collaboration and the Making of Borderland Intellectual Spaces in Modern China, 1900 to 1957

John B. Thompson
John B. Thompson  |  Abstract
My project examines bomb shelters and civil defenses built during the bombing of Chongqing (1938-1943) as sites for a new mode of Chinese governance combining emergency government and technical expertise. I analyze the ways in which China borrowed from international discourses on emergency government to institute order and apply instrumental reason to social and economic problems in the 1930s before the extended emergency of wartime. Yet, because of the relative novelty of mass civilian bombing, the state could not face the crisis in Chongqing with expert certainty. My research explains how the state consolidated technological expertise as a result of techno-political relations with Chinese citizens and participation in international discourses on civil defense design.

, East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University  -  The Mass and the Majesty: Technology, Politics, and the Bombing of Chongqing

Ling-wei Kung
Ling-wei Kung  |  Abstract
The present study discusses the relations between the Sixth Dalai Lama and the Chinese colonization in Central Eurasia including modern Tibet and Xinjiang. Many people in the West know about the Dalai Lama and the independent movement of Tibet; however, most people do not realize why and how Tibet lost its independence. Some people may notice the terrorist activities organized by Turkish Muslims in Chinese Xinjinag, but people seldom know the fate of Turkish Muslims was tightly bound with Tibetan Buddhists in the 18th century. My work will discuss the relations among China, Tibet and East Turkestan in the 18th century, and explain the global influence of the Chinese colonization in Central Eurasia.

, East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University  -  The Great Game: The Dalai Lama, Manchu Emperor and Mongolian Khan in the Making of China and Inner Asia, 1634 to 1758

John Christopher Upton
John Christopher Upton  |  Abstract
In recent decades, Taiwan's indigenous communities have come into a new visibility and, with this visibility, a proliferation of domestic laws directed at protecting indigenous practices, land, and tradition has followed. Rather than viewing Taiwan’s indigenous rights legal framework as yet another iteration of colonial oppression, I argue that it constitutes a special, productive space of state and indigenous imagination. This project attempts to read along, rather than against, the grain of Taiwan’s indigenous rights framework to show how it is a site where the state and indigenous groups come to imagine and discover new ways of understanding themselves and their relationship.

, Anthropology, Indiana University Bloomington  -  “We Do Not Want to Revolt”: Tensions and Intentions Shaping the Social Imaginary of Taiwan’s Indigenous Rights Framework

Rachel N. Lee
Rachel N. Lee  |  Abstract
Institutions of higher education have proliferated in China since the 1978 economic reforms. In a moment of nationally unprecedented post-secondary enrollment rates and as part of ongoing urbanization and globalization processes across China, the first U.S.-China joint venture university opened in 2013: New York University Shanghai. Signaling a transformation in the landscape of Sino-American institutional and educational ties, NYUS is both a novelty in China and part of a growing global trend in international university collaborations. How are students educated to become global subjects through transnational spaces in Chinese education? This work explores how Chinese youth experience upward social mobility through their embodiment and perception of higher education.

, Anthropology, University of Washington  -  Cosmopolitanism for Credit: Global Belonging and Chinese Urban Social Mobility

Matthew Timothy Wills
Matthew Timothy Wills  |  Abstract
Did Maoist China’s anti-Confucius campaign make the greatest contribution to popular understanding of classical Chinese history and culture? My project explores the process through which the state spread revolutionary critiques of China’s cultural and intellectual heritage in the second half of the 1970s, especially during the Criticize Lin, Criticize Confucius campaign. The primary vehicles for the dissemination of these ideas were print, material, and visual culture. I examine both the creation and production of this material, and how it was received. My hypothesis is that calls to “use the past to criticize the present” were turned on their head: the war on Confucianism enabled ordinary people to consider the past in ways devoid of prescribed political meaning.

, History, University of California, San Diego  -  Counter-Productive Criticism: Attacking Confucius in Socialist China, 1974 to 1980

Jue Liang
Jue Liang  |  Abstract
Yeshe Tsogyel is the preeminent female saint in Tibet. Hagiographical accounts depicting her life story and literary efforts making her the exemplary female practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism began in the 12th century and culminated in a long hagiography in the 17th century. This dissertation examines some earlier strata of this hagiographical corpus that have just come to light. It makes use of both standalone hagiographies of Yeshe Tsogyel and hagiographical accounts from different literary genres. It will fill the narrative gap between her actual life and the time she was promoted as the woman saint of Tibet. This project also sheds light on how the hagiographical tradition changed course in Tibetan history by investigating the way in which she was remembered and recreated.

, Religious Studies, University of Virginia  -  Conceiving the Mother of Tibet: A Study on the Early Hagiographical Accounts of Yeshe Tsogyel

Jin Yan
Jin Yan  |  Abstract
This dissertation investigates the origination and the development of financial news agencies that grow in tandem with China’s transition into state-capitalism. It seeks to demonstrate that financial news constitutes a form of information knowledge which is instrumental in the construction of a rapidly expanding market. It will also re-evaluate the classic tension between the increasingly commercialized media and states under political and economic transformation.

, Sociology, University of Chicago  -  Alchemy of Information: The Rise of Financial News in Reform China

Lei Lin
Lei Lin  |  Abstract
Abstract: My project examines the Sino-Nepalese War (1788–1792), fought between the Qing Empire and the Gurkha Kingdom, and its legacy. I argue that the War marks the last stage of the era of the Qing expansion and thus is crucial in understanding Qing imperialism, embodied by the Qianlong court’s strategic calculation, decision-making, and military operations in an expansionist context and a frontier setting. The project also explores the subsequent ideological meaning-making and intellectual construction of the image of the War as a spectacular success of the empire in defending Tibet against the intruding Gurkhas and an emblem of legitimacy of the Qing rule over Tibet. By examining sources in five languages (Chinese, Manchu, Tibetan, Nepalese, and English), the project bridges the disparate historiographies of East Asia and South Asia and provides a trans-Himalayan paradigm of studying the network of polities and peoples in early modern Asia.

, Inner Asian and Altaic Studies, Harvard University  -  The Limits of Empire: The Sino-Nepalese War and Qing Imperialism, 1788 to 1850

Yan Zhang
Yan Zhang  |  Abstract
Dementia was viewed as a normal part of aging in China, yet it was medicalized as a mental disorder attached with severe stigma not only for victims but also for families. Rapid modernization in China also transforms eldercare patterns for family caregiving. Currently, there were 9.19 million elders with dementia in China. Yet, little is known about how Chinese families cope with dementia care and how relations and identities change during the process of caregiving and illness. By engaging with medicalization of aging, anthropology of care, as well as population aging and eldercare in China, this project will examine the meanings and social practices of family caregiving for elders with dementia in Shanghai, China.

, Anthropology, Case Western Reserve University  -  Elders for Eldercare: Moral Experiences of Family Caregiving for Elders with Dementia in Shanghai, China

Elizabeth Marie Linn-Gadimov
Elizabeth Marie Linn-Gadimov  |  Abstract
This project explores historical and cultural legacies of religious text and representation in China.

, Political Science, Northwestern University  -  Political Orthodoxy in Contemporary China: Sovereign Authority, Catholic Clergy and Contention

Tianxiao Zhu
Tianxiao Zhu  |  Abstract
This project explores the history of Chinese socialism through the construction and management of the petrochemical industry and its two key products - chemical fertilizers and synthetic fibers - in the Maoist era. The study explores the reasons Maoist China decided to leverage its oil reserves to develop manufacturing rather than to export oil directly for foreign currency. In particular, it examines the meaning of the petrochemical industry in the planned economy system and state-guided development. The building of petrochemical plants also configured the lives of workers and the state’s policy to intellectuals (engineers and managers). The chemical products represented the state's commitment to long-term growth and plain living in a socialist lifestyle.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities  -  Petrochemical Socialism: Chemical Fertilizer and Synthetic Fiber Industry in China (1960 to 1980)