The China Studies Program seeks to expand the study of the influence of the transnational circulation of people, technologies, commodities and ideas on contemporary culture in Chinese societies by sponsoring original commentary and analysis, developing curriculum materials and fostering networks of scholars. The mission of the program is to develop innovative approaches to the study of contemporary China through the use of advanced technologies and via new forms of both personal and institutional collaboration.
The program is currently focused on exploring how economic globalization is changing the ways in which the Chinese identify with and work with each other. As China and the Chinese societies of the diaspora integrate into the global economy, will the members of the emerging transnational Chinese middle class come to think of themselves primarily as grounded residents of the new global cities, as citizens of a great nation, or as the consumers of a mobile, transnational middle class? These changes in the ways the Chinese peoples identify with each other may affect their participation in solutions to local, national and international problems.
The program supports the creation of original Web-based resources for the study of changes in contemporary Chinese culture. With the support of the Henry Luce Foundation, we have worked with more than 50 Rice University students and contributing scholars from Asia to translate, transcribe and code images of more than 4,500 commercial and public service advertisements from public spaces in Beijing, Hong Kong, Kaohsiung, Shanghai, Singapore and Taipei from 1998 to 2003. This collection, the Rice Ephemera Archive, is housed in the Center for Digital Scholarship at Fondren Library. In the future, we will expand the archive to include tens of thousands of images from these and 20 more cities. In addition, we have transcribed and translated many academic talks, roundtables and discussions by world authorities on Chinese culture. The project also works with scholars from the Chao Center for Asian Studies at Rice University as well as national and local civic and education organizations to teach the American public more about the many ways Chinese societies are adapting to globalization.