Graduate student receives a grant and fellowship to study in China and Japan

August 08, 2014

Xiaofei Gao

Xiaofei (Faye) Gao has been awarded the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Program in China Studies, Pre-Dissertation Grant by the Henry Luce Foundation. This grant will allow Xiaofei to begin conducting research for her dissertation project. She also received a Japanese Language Program Fellowship from the Japan Foundation, which will allow her to acquire Japanese language skills necessary for research activities such as the collection of materials and meeting with specialists in Japan after her trip to China.

Xiaofei, who will be a fourth-year Ph.D. student this fall, received her B.A. and a Master's degree in History from Nankai University, China. She came to UC Santa Cruz in 2011. Her research interests include modern China, East Asian history, colonialism and modernity, environmental history, as well as gender and sexuality.

Her dissertation project undertakes a historical examination of maritime Manchuria, in order to explore role of seaborne interactions in shaping historical processes of social, commercial, and cultural exchange that transcend the boundaries of nation-states across the long twentieth century. The project probes the ways that seaborne activities intensified processes of integration in East Asia, while introducing differentiation within coastal communities and promoting degradation of the marine environment and violence. The underlying argument of her work is that much nation building, region making, as well as marine environmental transformation, was dependent on the seas and those who made their living from them along the Manchurian coast and what I am calling the "Bohai/Yellow Sea Rim."

Professor Gail Hershatter, Xiaofei's dissertation advisor, commented on her project saying, “Xiaofei research on maritime Manchuria crosses national boundaries. She combines the questions of environmental, political, and cultural history to investigate the changing lives of people in coastal communities along the Bohai/Yellow Sea under conditions of colonialism, foreign occupation, war, socialist construction, and economic reform. It's an ambitious and enterprising project.”

Xiaofei will travel to the county, city, and province-level archives in Northeast China, and research institutes in Osaka and Tokyo to conduct research for her project.