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2007-2008 USCI Graduate Summer Fieldwork Grants

Ten USC graduate students from six disciplines receive funding from the USC U.S. - China Institute to carry out field research on a topic addressing an aspect of the multidimensional U.S. – China relationship for summer 2007.

August 25, 2011

Graduate Summer Fieldwork Abstracts

Michael Block, Department of History
"New England Merchants, the China Trade, and the Origins of California"

This project investigates how American involvement in the China trade influenced the 1846 United States invasion and subsequent conquest of California. Looking ahead from 1783, when the Treaty of Paris ended the American Revolution, one might guess that the new United States would trade with China, but few could have assumed that within a few decades the young nation would invade the former Spanish possession of Alta California. The work analyzes the interplay of events, institutions, and individuals which created, far earlier than we might have expected, an "American Pacific" anchored in antebellum California and rooted in trade with China. Forced to find new trading partners after the Revolution, American merchants almost immediately looked to China. By the early nineteenth century, only the British had more trading vessels visiting Canton, and American merchants scoured the globe in search of trade goods to send to China. This work will remind American historians of the important and early role China has played in the history of the United States. In addition to support from the USC US-China Institute, Mr. Block has received short-term research fellowships from the American Philosophical Society, the Massachusetts Historical Society, and the Program in Early American Economy and Society. Click here to view full report.

The USC students listed below are receiving grants ranging from $2,500 to $4,000 to carry out fieldwork in China. Competition for these awards was quite keen. Click here to see the program guidelines. These grants are possible thanks to Robert and Christina Yung, alumni and donors to the USC Fund for China.

Eric Blanchard (School of International Relations, College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences)
"Sino-American Relations and the Politics of Threat Construction"

This project examines 20th century Sino-American relations in the context of Western-led processes of globalization.  Eric Blanchard will study four Sino-American encounters: 1) the social construction of Chinese UN Security Council representation (1943), 2) the “loss” of China (1947), 3) the Los Alamos spy case (1999), and 4) cooperation in the war on terror (2001).  In addressing the broader question of how states become threatening to each other,  he draws upon social constructivist International Relations theory to detail the process of threat construction and show how threats, far from being given solely by material factors, actually take much interpretive work on the part of decision-makers, security elites and media. He argues that American and Chinese discourses of national identity figure heavily in these processes, articulating inclusion, exclusion, and thus the universe of possible threats to the national “self.” 

Man Guo (School of Social Work)
"Exploring Disability Among Chinese Elderly Population: Prevalence, Use of Social Service and Gender Difference"

Supporting older persons with disability is a major challenge for social care providers in both China and United States. Research on elderly disabled people is scarce, particularly in China. Man Guo will conduct summer research fieldwork at Peking University to explore the issue of disability among the Chinese elderly population. She will use China’s Second National Sample Survey on Disability. The study explores the prevalence of different types of disability among Chinese older adults, examines the use of social services among the elderly disabled Chinese, and examines the gender difference in terms of disability prevalence and the use of social services. Click here to view full report.

Jing Li (Rossier School of Education)
"A Study of Student Affairs Administration Preparation in Chinese Higher Education"


A recent report on college student health in Beijing found that more than 60% of those surveyed were experiencing mental health illnesses. Suicide remains the leading cause of death among Chinese between 15 and 24 years of age. Jing Li examines the purposes and focus of newly created Master Programs in Student Affairs Administration for Chinese universities. Five prestigious Chinese universities in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenyang will be visited. Fifty interviews will be conducted with university leaders and faculty members regarding their opinions on student development and higher education administration.  Li will also meet with ten to twelve undergraduate and graduate focus groups. Students’ suggestions for improvement of the quality of college life will be solicited. The purpose of this study is to develop recommendations on how to draw upon the most effective student affairs administration programs in improving Chinese student life and development.


Mingji Lou (School of Policy, Planning, and Development)
"Statistics Data Recovery in Hybrid Network: A Case Study of Copyright Infringement in China"

In the absence of plausible statistics, it is extraordinarily difficult for U.S. analysts to gauge economic, military and social trends in China with any degree of accuracy. It affects the controllability and predictability of the U.S.-China relationship. In this project, Mingji Lou studies how to effectively apply coarse geometry and estimations theory to generate reliable data for policy analysis. Copyright infringement in China, a sensitive issue for U.S., will be the benchmark case study. Statistics on piracy propagation in Chinese social network is unavailable; however the piracy propagation via the internet can be monitored from U.S.  The different topology structure, the so called small-world social network and scale-free Internet, can be combined as a hybrid network. The overall statistics data can be evaluated from mathematics point of view.

Mehdi Majbouri (Economics, College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences)
"Comparative Study of Entrepreneurship in China: The Wenzhou Model"

That entrepreneurship the sole engine of economic and social progress is clearly shown in the “Wenzhou Model” in China. Having only few natural resources, virtually no significant State-Owned Enterprises, and suffering from extreme poverty, thousands of private firms emerged in less than two decades in Wenzhou. Today, these firms provide a backbone for industrial growth in China and a large share of China’s exports to North American markets. Understanding the specific characteristics of “Wenzhou model” relative to other entrepreneurship practices in China is critical to my dissertation on entrepreneurship. This project will examine how government policies helped and hampered entrepreneurs in Wenzhou. Despite extensive discussion of Wenzhou in the literature, this work is unique as it involves parametric modeling of Wenzhou and other practices of entrepreneurship and comparing them. This fieldwork will include a comprehensive survey with the help of Zhejiang University scholars.

Peter Marolt (Geography, College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences)
"Blogging in China:  Thriving Cultural Production, Critical Intellectuals, and Emerging Virtual and Physical Public Spaces in Shanghai (and Beijing)"
中国网络日志—— 透析北京及上海繁荣的文化创造, 批判知识分子,以及新兴的虚拟及实体公共空间

Peter Marolt's research goal is to understand how and to what extent critical Chinese intellectuals utilize China’s ‘blogosphere,’ filled with voices that differ from the official view, in order to create spaces of resistance that have the potential of becoming conduits for dynamic dissent.  He asks if individual amplifiers of change transcend normalizing trajectories (e.g., toward entertainment-based consumerism) and create meaningful resistance from within?

Qiaobing Wu (School of Social Work)
"Examining the Role of Social Capital in the Psychosocial Adjustment of Chinese Migrant Children: A Pilot Study in Shanghai"

This project studies on the role of social capital in the psychosocial adjustment of Chinese migrant children. It has two specific aims: 1) to review policies implemented in China related to the adaptation and integration of migrant children; and 2) to conduct a survey of 100 migrant children in Shanghai for the sake of refining survey instruments and conducting preliminary analyses. Findings of this pilot study will help Wu refine her dissertation design. This research should help policymakers and practitioners generate sounder social policies and to develop more effective intervention and prevention programs to promote the psychosocial adjustment of migrant children.

Qiaobing Wu earns National Science Foundation grant

Bo Zhou (Economics, College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences)
"Changing Agricultural Policies"


Low rates of return on their time, work, and investment are causing many Chinese farmers to skip planting crops. In order to maintain output levels and to address the growing income gap between urban and rural residents, the Chinese government has significantly revised its agricultural policies over the past few years. Subsidies and loans to farmers have been increased and agricultural taxes have been lowered. The government has expanded investment in rural infrastructure so that it now totals one-third of all national investment. Private investment is also being encouraged. In addition, the Chinese government has sought to maintain the amount of land in production at 3 billion acres (1.2 billion hectares) by restricting its use for other purposes. This project will probe the effect of these policies on agriculturaloutput and the composition of that output. It will explore how impact of these changes varies with agricultural sector and geographic region as well as how this affects the migration of labor force from rural areas to urban areas. 

Bobby Zhou (Economics, College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences)
"US-China Agricultural Trade"

The United States has an overall trade deficit with China, but agricultural exports are a bright spot in the U.S. - China trade picture. The U.S. is the largest exporter of agricultural products to China. The U.S. has consistently increased its export of many major agricultural products and the agricultural trade balance is very much in America's favor. Some Chinese officials are alarmed by this and have argued that China should not rely too much on imported food. These officials have called for policies and actions to increase China's domestic agricultural output. They argue that the security and stability of national food supply is of paramount importance. Through more nuanced data collection and deep analysis as well as interviews with Chinese agricultural policy makers, this research project will illuminate bilateral agricultural trade between US and China and China’s policies towards it. This project will further analyze how the scope and scale of this trade has changed since China entered the World Trade Organization (WTO) six years ago. In addition, quantitative analysis will be used to project the size and pattern of future bilateral agricultural trade.

Yi Zhu (Economics, College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences)
"Transition of Privately Owned Firms in China: A Case Study in Zhejiang Province"

After more than two decades of sustained reform, privately-owned firms are becoming the most important component of the Chinese economy. While it is widely recognized that the vitality of small private firms has been the prime mover of the China’s sustained and remarkable economic growth, few solid empirical inquiries have been attempted to examine the rise of small and medium scale enterprises. This project addresses that gap. Using data from Wenzhou (Zhejiang Province) firms, this project explores these questions: what is the major transition for Private Firms in China, what are the driving forces for those transitions, and can we find reasonable explanation from Chinese economic reform, culture background and social transition?

View reports of USCI Graduate Summer Fieldwork Grant receipients from other years.
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