American Archaeological and Art Historical Enterprises in China before the 1930s(3/3)

  • Wu, Fang-Cheng (PI)

Project Details


This project aims to investigate American archaeological and art historical enterprises in China between 1900 and 1930s.In the first half of the twentieth century, it is generally acknowledged that anthropology and archaeology remodeled significantly the notion of “China” in terms of discourse on nation, history, and culture. Although in the first decades of the century, all important archaeological works in China were done mostly by Westerners, fueled by an ever more powerful nationalism in the 1930s, Chinese took enthusiastically the step. The same nationalism also impeded all Western archaeological and art historical enterprises in China.Among Western nations, the United States was a latecomer in the competition of collecting of Chinese art objects, yet this belatedness contrasts with the preponderant influence of the U.S. on China in many other domains. This project focuses on art history related archaeology. Four sets of Americanarchaeological organizations before the 1930s were selected as object of research: 1. China Monuments Society in Beijing and Asiatic Institute in New York in the 1910s; 2. Project of establishing an American School of Archaeology in Peking in 1913-1914; 3. Joint expedition by the Freer Gallery of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, from 1923 to 1927, and FGA sponsored expedition conducted from 1929 to 1934; 4. Fogg Museum expeditions in China, 1923-25, and the Harvard-Yenching Institute.Many of the above mentioned organizations were not totally without good intention and good will toward China. However, they left few imprints in the development of Chinese national archaeology. This project will study these American archaeological and art historical enterprises, either as continuation of an ideal or as failures under specific situations.
Effective start/end date1/08/1831/12/19

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals


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