Of Goldfish and Scientists: Experimental Biology in Modern China


Henry Luce Foundation/ ACLS Program in China Studies Postdoctoral Fellowships


Department of East Asian Studies


For developing genetics, embryology, and fishery in modern China, the goldfish played a uniquely important role both because of its potentials in generating experimental novelties and due to the country’s long history of goldfish breeding. This project traces the trajectory of using goldfish as an experimental organism for building biology and as a model for improving fishery in twentieth-century China. It depicts how these disciplinary and technological developments engaged local cultures, transnational sciences, and national politics. With concrete scientific practices, the project provides new perspectives on the changing role of Chinese intellectuals in transforming a literati and craft culture, building a modern nation, and developing a unique path to Chinese biological modernity.