Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Research on Kang Youwei and the Baohuanghui in North America: Sources and Methods

Kang Youwei in Los Angeles, 1905
Private collection, Jane Leung Larson
In March 2018, Chinese scholars specializing in Kang Youwei convened in Kang’s birthplace, Nanhai, Guangdong, to commemorate the 160th anniversary of his birth and 120th anniversary of the 1898 Hundred Days of Reform. Those of us coming from North America focused on Kang’s experience in the New World from 1899 to 1909. In particular, we made use of the source materials from South Windsor, Connecticut and Los Angeles that have illuminated our knowledge of Kang’s activities in Canada, the United States and Mexico. 

Jane Leung Larson spoke on “Research on Kang Youwei and the Baohuanghui in North America: Sources and Methods.”  She contrasted the relatively open access to resources on Kang and the Baohuanghui in North American archives, libraries, and the internet with the much more restrictive research environment in which Chinese historians work.
She highlighted the importance of comparative analysis of a variety of primary sources, sharing information and collaborating in research with a wide range of people inside and outside academia, and using the power of the internet for research and collaboration.

Larson’s paper and PowerPoint presentation illustrate some of sources and methods used by the team writing a book based on Robert Worden’s 1972 Georgetown University dissertation, “A Chinese Reformer in Exile: The North American Phase of the Travels of Kang Youwei, 1899–1909.” 

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