Training Program on “New Materials and New Approaches to the Study of Chinese Rural Society”

Call For Applications

We are pleased to announce a call for applications for a June 2024 Training Program in Fujian, China

Xiamen University Center for Research on Local Historical Documents & Harvard-Yenching Institute Training Program

New Materials and New Approaches to the Study of Chinese Rural Society

A series of discoveries over the last few years has thoroughly overturned the notion that few historical materials survive in rural China.  Besides religious scriptures and genealogies, these more recent discoveries include many more quotidian documents such as land deeds, contracts, household account books, tax documents, records of loans and loan repayment and other materials. Besides the well-known case of Huizhou, other important sites include Shicang in Zhejiang, Qingshui River in Guizhou, Taihang Mountain in Handan, Hebei, and recently Yongtai in Fujian. Unlike the Huizhou documents, many of the newly discovered documents such as the Yongtai documents are still preserved in situ, held privately by the descendants of the people who wrote and used these documents centuries ago. These documents constitute an enormous and constantly expanding source of historical data outside of the scope of traditional historical materials.  They are reshaping our understanding of the social, cultural and economic history of late imperial and modern China. They are also potentially of great value to other disciplines besides history.   However, reading and using these materials still poses challenges and requires specialized skills. To this end, the “New Materials and New Approaches to the Study of Chinese Rural Studies” training program, co-sponsored by the Center for Research on Local Historical Documents of Xiamen University and the Harvard-Yenching Institute, will be held in Yongtai County, Fujian Province, China from June 15 to 22, 2024. The workshop will be led by well-known scholars in related fields from China and elsewhere, using a combination of specialized lecture courses and fieldwork.  It will use the materials discovered in Yongtai to train a new generation of young scholars from China and other places in Asia in basic interpretation methods and how to use these new materials for research, in order to promote innovation and development in Chinese social history research.

Date: June 15-22, 2024

Location: Yongtai County, Fuzhou, Fujian

Format: The program will consist of a combination of intensive classroom teaching and reading documents in the field. The main language of instruction is Mandarin; participants must also have competence in reading modern and classical Chinese.

Teaching staff:

  • Zheng Zhenman (Xiamen University)
  • Michael Szonyi (Harvard University)
  • Angela Leung (Hong Kong University)
  • Cheng Meibo (City University of Hong Kong)
  • Xiang Jie (National Taiwan University)
  • Liu Yonghua (Peking University)
  • Zhang Kan (Xiamen University)
  • Huang Xiangchun (Xiamen University)

Participant Details:

Twenty participants will be selected for the workshop (ten from mainland China, ten from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao and other Asian countries).

Applicants should be junior scholars (including doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty) who are engaged in China studies in colleges and universities and related academic institutions in China and other Asian countries or regions.

No tuition fees will be charged. The organizer will cover participants travel expenses and expenses during the workshop, including round-trip travel expenses (economy class for domestic and intra-Asia airfare; second-class seats on high-speed rail), food and accommodation, etc.

Download Application Form [Word]

Application deadline: April 15, 2024

Contact information:

Xiamen University Center for Research on Local Historical Documents (

Address: Center for Research on Local Historical Documents, No. 422, Siming South Road, Siming District, Xiamen City, Fujian Province, Nanguang No. 1, Xiamen University (311)

Contact: Ms. Hong, QQ:632954496, Xiamen University Center for Research on Local Historical Documents