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2009-2010 USCI Graduate Summer Fieldwork Grants

Three projects funded for summer 2009 will explore intellectual property rights, historical depictions of U.S.-China relations, and farmland preservation.
April 17, 2009

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.

Hong Pang, School of International Relations
"Why to Steal Certain Books is Not an Elegant Offense: The Political Economy of Selective Copyright Enforcement in China"

In the past more than two decades, China has been criticized heavily and persistently for its inadequate protection of intellectual property (IP) rights. But a closer examination of previous academic research shows that we know less about China's IP protection than we think and we fail to claim whether China ever improved its protection in these years besides legislation and why if any improvement. Reports by industry associations in the United States show that there has been more obvious improvement in copyright protection in software than in motion pictures and sound recordings in China in the past fifteen years. This project aims to examine this evolving disparity in copyright enforcement among these three industries in China since 1995 up to now. Ms. Pang hopes to provide a dynamic political economic analysis showing whether industrial associations and enterprises have developed strong incentives as well as reliable and effective channels and strong means to influence the establishment of IP regime and to protect their copyright in China, what they input in the policy and enforcement process, how the economic characteristics and development level of each industry influenced their incentives and capabilities, whether government development strategies and industrial policies as well as international pressures and cooperation provided opportunities and/or challenges to enterprises and their representatives in their IP protection efforts, how the pattern of interactions between government and business, between internal and external actors evolved overtime, and how these interactions influenced the IP protection results. Click here to view full report.

Luman Wang, Department of History
"Epistemological transformations of Sino-US relations in contemporary Chinese historical journals"

Luman Wang's project focuses on the epistemological transformations related to the US presence in China since 1840s and its interaction with Chinese government and society in a national history source journal called Wenshi Ziliao 文史资料 (The Journal of Historical Records and Accounts) from 1960 to present. The significance of her project lies in its effort to illuminate the process of how an internal circulating publication for reference (neibu cankao ziliao 内部参考资料) on modern Chinese history in the 1960s that served as a communist ideological tool within Party and intellectual circles, was re-appropriated as a medium to enhance the Sino-US international relations and promote the opening-up policies by Chinese government from the late 1980s to present. In addition, she will also examine a local history source journal published in Qingdao, Shandong province. The reason for choosing this particular city is because soon after 1945, US Navy sent a fleet to Qingdao to mediate the power transition from Japan to Nanjing nationalist government, and started to interact with the local society. Hence, the Qingdao historical source journal is a good supplement to investigate how Sino-US relations are textually represented at the local level.

Yiming Wang, School of Policy, Planning and Development
"Implementing Farmland Preservation in China's Urban Periphery: National Food Security and Local Livelihood Transition"

Protecting farmlands is a long term land use policy in China. The primary intention of this policy is to ensure that China can feed itself notwithstanding its huge population and rapid urbanization. Whether this policy can be successfully implemented clearly affects the global food market, wherein US is one of the largest food exporters.  However, the local implementation of farmland preservation is far from being satisfactory in China. One important reason of the difficult enforcement is the local interest in fast industrialization through aggressive farmland conversion. Built upon several cases, this project looks for communicative actions that aim at balancing the national interest in persevering farmland and the local demand for economic development. While national-local conflicts in farmland use are unlikely to fully evade, flexibly negotiating these conflicts on a case-by-case basis is likely to be a practical means of implementing farmland preservation in China' urban periphery. Facilitating such negotiation requires better understanding and guiding the local farmers' transition towards urban livelihoods, on top of the current policy focus on national food security.

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