Research Projects

Thinking Beyond South China

Principal Investigators
  • David Faure, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • Liu Zhiwei, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou
  • Helen F. Siu, Yale University
Project Description

Largely made up of historians and anthropologists, the South China team has spent more than fifteen years conducting fieldwork together in Guangdong and Fujian. The team has pursued four broad research topics:

  • The Meizhou-Chaozhou axis. An understanding of the trade on this axis helps explain the growth of the major towns in the Hakka-Chaozhou ethnic homelands and dates the emergence of ethnic identities.
  • Urban administration in Shantou and Beihai. Rich local archives of the Republican period provide insights into intercity competition.
  • A comparison of the elite of Xiangtan and Changsha in Hunan province. The project explores elite domination in Changsha, based not on land ownership but on control of new government enterprises.
  • Regional identity and popular culture in Guangdong. The project centers on the emerging urban elite in Guangzhou in the 19th century.
Thinking Beyond South China

The activities have nurtured a critical mass of young teachers and advanced graduate students who are ready to enrich existing paradigms with independent work outside of South China. Their “northern expedition” includes sites in Jiangxi, Hunan, Hubei, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, Shandong, Hebei, Henan and Guizhou. They coordinate with the Institute’s advanced summer workshops to share their interdisciplinary agenda with colleagues in Beijing and Shanghai. They have also joined forces with colleagues in Taiwan to conduct site visits in the Hakka regions of Meizhou, Chaozhou and Dabu. In the summer of 2005, a workshop, called the “China-Hong Kong-Taiwan Postgraduate Symposium on Ethnic Groups and Cultural Changes,” was organized on the new Sun Yat-sen University campus in Zhuhai, during which graduate students from Hong Kong, China and Taiwan debated many issues.