This course is an intensive summer fieldwork experience in Sichuan Province that explores the history of modern China from the village perspective. Students will learn in and about the countryside surrounding Ya’an Municipality, along the border with the Tibetan Plateau. The course instructor has carried out research in this region over the last twenty years, and his publications will be the core text of the course. In addition, students will have the opportunity to participate in the research process through collecting digital survey data related to the cultural landscape, and then analyzing, synthesizing, editing, and uploading that data into an online database. The course will explore local histories as counter-narratives to the History of the nation-state; environmental history and the changing cultural landscape of rural China; place formation and local identity along the ethnic and ecological frontier; and issues of economic development and sustainability in contemporary China.
Within the History Department, this course exposes students to new approaches to the study of history and provides hands-on experience in fieldwork and cultural survey methods. The course also fulfills two complementary goals of the Chinese Studies Program: first, to provide more challenging and innovative courses that can complement Chinese language study; second, to provide opportunities to students who are not taking Chinese language to benefit from the Chinese Studies Program. More broadly, the course advances the Global Programs goal of giving students opportunities to deeply and intensively experience another culture. In addition, the course takes advantage of the instructor’s publication of the online monograph, Moral Landscape in a Sichuan Mountain Village: a digital ethnography of place, which is the main text for the course.
Grassroots China 2011 site