This is Zhiqiang Shi. I am writing to report my activities at the Princeton University in August 2018. First of all, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Global History Collaborative consortium and Professor Haneda to give me this precious opportunity. I am also grateful for Ms. Araki and Ms. Konno’s help.
“Explore,” “Continue” and “Adapt”- these three keywords are appropriate to describe my life in August at Princeton. I focused on exploring academic resources around Princeton, continuing my research and doing my best to adapt to American life.
Firstly, since the fall semester has not begun yet, my Princeton life started with exploring and discovering abundant academic resources such as libraries. Once finished the check-in procedure, I started my adventure in Princeton libraries. The collections of the Firestone Library and East Asian Library are most related to my historical research. I was surprised by the numerous collections in the Firestone Library ranging from rare books to microfilms. Equally essential resources are two interlibrary book circulating systems called Interlibrary Loan (ILL) and Borrow Direct. The later one is a more rapid interlibrary borrowing and lending service offered by 13 partner prestigious university libraries including Harvard, Yale, etc. With these collections and services, almost all the materials I need are easy to come by.
I spent most of my time this month at the East Asian library where collections are quite comprehensive in works on Chinese literature and history. The East Asian library consisting of all the research resources related to East Asia studies is well-organized and convenient to find the items you need. It usually reminds my experience in the libraries of the University of Tokyo. The collections and research resources on East Asia at the University of Tokyo are scattered in several institutes such as Institute of Advanced Studies on Asia, Faculty of Law or Faculty of Letter. These institutes usually subscribe or purchase the same book or periodicals separately. Sometimes, it is difficult to find a book when the book was in the other library among several libraries. Therefore, I think the University of Tokyo would benefit if we construct the similar facility like East Asian Library to preserve all the research resources in one place for convenience and lowering cost.
Another fascinating experience is attending the summer course in New York from Aug. 6 to Aug. 11 on Marx’s Capital lectured by Prof. David Harvey, a prominent scholar and theorist on Marx and one of the founders of urban geography. His online course Reading Marx’s Capital had gained immense popularity which stimulated me to begin a book club on Capital in Todai two years ago. It was so exciting to have a chance to meet and talk with such an academic figure whom I have adored for a long time. Prof. Harvey’s seminar covered various themes ranging from fundamental conception in Capital such as Alienation to the destiny of the modern capitalist world. Some reading materials had been pre-circulated before the seminar. At the workshop, Prof. Harvey gave a one-hour lecture and answered the audience’s questions. Since I have read and discussed the Capital in the book club
Another important work for me in Princeton is to develop my doctoral project by taking advantage of voluminous materials here. I plan to finish two chapters of my dissertation in this six months. My research at Todai focuses on judicial practice in the northeast of Qing China. My dissertation, provisionally titled “Legal Pluralism and the Qing Empire: a study of the northeast region of China” examines the legal system and judicial practice in the northeast of Qing China based on the documents written by Chinese and Manchu. Two months ago, I presented a proposal for this project at the summer school of GHC in Paris and then participated the annual conference of Association for Borderlands Studies in Vienna and Budapest to report one chapter of my project.
The paper I presented in Vienna intended to analyze criminal case materials from Hunchun Vice-general Government Archives(HVGA) involved foreigners to sketch and detail how the disputes were dealt with in accordance with the general rule of treaties, to explore the dynamics of judicial mechanism in terms of jurisdiction, sovereignty, and international interactions. According to my recent study, Russia’s extraterritoriality in Qing only existed in port cities while reciprocal personal jurisdictions remained in the frontier areas. I have scanned around 100 volumes of the HVGA in August, I collected more cases and finished about 50% of the Japanese draft.
Moreover, I began to collect materials for the second chapter of my dissertation on the “Bannerland”, namely land granted to Qing rulers with preferential tax and labor obligation. The main material I will rely on is Hei Tu Dang(HTD) published last years including numerous civil and criminal cases. There was still no one copy of this set of archives collected in any Japanese libraries probably due to the high price while Princeton library has one. So I borrowed 10 volumes of HDT at first to grasp a brief overview of this set of archives.
Before the fall semester starts, I made some efforts to adapt the new life in America and prepare for the incoming semester. Firstly, I skimmed through the catalog of lessons and find several attractive classes such as Ethnography of Law, Nomadic Empires: From the Scythian Confederation to the Mongol Conquest as well as Professor Adelman’s course A History of the World. I will make decisions on the courses after consulting with my supervisor.
Secondly, I have searched for information to improve my English. I have registered for a book club hosted by Historical Society of Princeton. The book club holds a monthly meeting to discuss a historical fiction. At the meeting, a scholar related with the theme also participate in the discussion. The book we will discuss next month is Last days of the night by Graham Moore, which is based on actual events—about the battle to electrify America between Tomas Edison and another inventor. In the same time, I have applied for English conversation group in Princeton to practice my speaking which will start in September.
Finally, the life in America relies on the vehicle. So I took the driver license’s test and got a car from my sister-in-law who has worked in America for four years in the mid-August. Now it became much more comfortable to go to the libraries and supermarket.