By Abby Weingarten
This time last year, Xia Shi, Ph.D.—an associate professor of history and international and area studies at New College—secured a competitive National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Stipends Program grant to conduct book research in China. This spring, she received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award to carry out further research in Taiwan.
The current award—presented by the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board—will allow Shi to delve into archival research at the Institute of Modern History (IMH) of Academia Sinica in Taipei. From August 2021 to late January 2022, Shi will collect primary sources for her second book, Concubines in Public: Embodied Subjects and the Politics of the Private in Republican China.
“I’m very excited to be able to spend six months doing research in Taiwan. I have received many years of training as a historian of China, and my research requires me to regularly visit archives and libraries in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong to collect primary sources,” Shi said, adding that her NEH-funded trip to China was canceled due to the pandemic. “In particular, I specialize in the history of the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and Republican China (1912-1949). Taiwan is a crucial site for me due to both its research strength on my focused time periods and its possession of important collections of related primary sources.”
Shi believes her second book will appeal to readers interested in Chinese history, gender and sexuality studies, Chinese politics, international and diplomatic history, the history of the public sphere, and the history of mass media. As a Fulbright scholar, Shi will share her knowledge and foster meaningful connections across communities in both the United States and Taiwan.
“I discovered this book topic about six years ago, when I was on my last research leave. Since then, I have been collecting materials, piece by piece, mostly using my summer breaks,” Shi said. “I have also published one article on the topic (with one more currently under review), and presented some of my research at several domestic and international conferences. At this stage, I need a longer stretch of time to do some intensive archival work onsite at several archives and libraries in China and Taiwan.”
The Fulbright award will give Shi that freedom. Established in 1946, the Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. It is designed to “forge lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries, counter misunderstandings, and help people and nations work together toward common goals.”
Fulbright alumni include 60 Nobel Prize laureates, 86 Pulitzer Prize recipients, and 37 scholars who have served as heads of state or government. The program, which operates in 160 countries, has enabled more than 390,000 dedicated students, scholars, artists, teachers and professionals of all backgrounds to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas, and find solutions to shared international concerns.
“The Fulbright grant will enable me to carry out my research at the IMH in Taipei, gaining local access through institutional affiliation as a visiting scholar. Its diplomatic archives of the late Qing and Republican period have important materials for me to further investigate how the politics of gender functioned in Chinese diplomacy and international relations,” Shi said. “I also look forward to having stimulating intellectual exchanges through giving talks at the IMH, and having regular conversations with its research group on Chinese women’s and gender history.”
Shi also looks forward to the conversations she will have at New College when she returns.
“My archival research in Taiwan will bring new materials to my regularly offered course, ‘Women and Gender in China’ at New College,” Shi began, “and introduce fresh and much needed non-Western perspectives to our existing Gender Studies program.”
Abby Weingarten is the senior editor in the Office of Communications & Marketing.