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Research Forum

EAS Call for Proposals for Small Research Grants

Friday, April 1, 2005.

The East Asian Studies Program Committee request proposals from graduate students for grants for research-related costs. Students can request between $500 and $1,000. Between three and six awards will be made.

Preferences will be given to students who conduct field research or other forms of data collection for their dissertation or qualifying paper and to carefully prepared high-qualify proposals.

The application should be a one- to two-page statement which would include the following information:
• The project title, your name and email address;
• The research question of the project;
• A brief statement of its theoretical significance;
• A brief statement of how far along you are in completing it;
• The way in which this grant will advance your progress;
• A budget and a brief justification. Legitimate research costs might include:
-- travel expenses to a research site;
-- tools of research: audio tapes, small equipment, hardware/software (that is not readily available on campus); and
-- acquisition of data and fees for data access and documents.

Submit your electronic applications to Carey Flaherty-Ryan ( The EAS Subcommittee will rank the applications and nominate the applicants to the program director. The applicants will be informed about the outcome in early May.


East Asian Studies has launched a new faculty/graduate students research forum. This forum is open to all graduate students and faculty interested in East Asian Studies. Please contact to be included on the mailing list.

Introduced by Professor Susan Mann, Chair and Professor, the Department of History

*The Suspended Woman and the Seven Star Chapel: Multiple Meanings of Widow Chastity on **Southwest China** Ethnic Boundaries*

This talk explores the cultural space in which the moral discourses of imperial China interacted with the kinship systems and social values of an indigenous people, the Nasu Yi, in the colonial world of Ming-Qing Yunnan. Lady Qu, the female native prefect of Wuding (in office 1531-ca. 1557), transformed a local Nasu Yi folktale about widow suicide into a monument to her own chaste widowhood. This act had different meanings to observers from different perspectives. The Qing official who recorded the matter in the gazetteer he edited made it into a triumphal monument to the ongoing success of the Confucian civilizing project. Lady Quâ's bilingually-educated subordinates among the indigenous local elite had a more ambivalent view to the value of widow chastity and were likely aware of the rather different meaning of the original folk tradition of the Suspended Woman. Lady Qu herself seems to have deployed chastity as a statecraft tactic: circumscribed by Ming regulations for the inheritance of native official positions, she used Yi ideas about lordly inheritance and counteracted Ming officials' stereotypes about the sexual behavior of Yi chieftains' widows to build her questionable political legitimacy with both provincial officials and the indigenous elite of Wuding. The "contact zone"where the Confucian civilizing project met Yi political traditions was a space in which the moral values of Ming colonial overlords could enter Yi culture, but the Yi elites who brokered such cultural change adjusted Confucian morality to fit the needs of a different political culture, social structure, and kinship system.

Speaker biography:
Jacob Whittaker is a Ph.D. candidate in Chinese history at the University of California, Davis. He is currently completing a dissertation entitled “Indigenous Elites and Cultural Brokerage in Late Imperial Yunnan: The Lu-ɦo Polity, the Feng Family Native Prefects, and Nasu Yi Civilization in Wuding, 1174-1745, under the direction of Prof. Susan Mann. Whittaker is a graduate of Cornell University, and completed a Master of Arts in Asian studies at the University of California, Berkeley in 1997 with a thesis exploring the cultural strategies used by a nineteenth-century Muslim rebel in Yunnan for mobilizing a multi-ethnic alliance against the Qing state. Whittaker's dissertation research has been funded by a University of California Office of the President, Pacific Rim Research Foundation grant to conduct archival and field research in China in 2000-2001, and the Reed-Smith Dissertation-Year Fellowship (2003-2004). Whittaker's research focuses on ethnicity in late imperial and modern China and on the ethnogenesis and cultural history of the Yi peoples of southwest China.


Welcome to the East Asian Studies Program

Undergraduate study of East Asia at UC Davis is not concentrated in a single department. The major draws faculty from many disciplines, including anthropology, history, sociology, economics, political science, religion, languages, and literature.

The UC Davis program recognizes that East Asian studies majors often come to the University with little or no background in Asian cultures, and that the career possibilities are exceptionally varied. To meet these two problems, the program offers a background core of basic courses in East Asian history, humanities, social sciences, and languages, plus a wide range of more advanced and specialized courses from which student and advisor tailor an individualized program of study.

Students majoring in other fields, such as literature, economics, history, international relations, even agricultural sciences may find courses in East Asian studies relevant to their particular career goals or academic interests. Also a number of students have undertaken double majors, combining East Asian studies with another area of study. The faculty are as eager to introduce some appreciation of East Asia to future textile engineers, doctors, and agronomists, as they are to train Asian specialists.