Call for Papers: “Moving across borders in China: an interdisciplinary approach to the study of Cultural Diversity in marginal areas”

Deadline: 31st Mar 2014

(eds.) Tommaso Previato and Alessandra Cappelletti


1. Significance and purpose:

Chinese Studies are a dynamic and quickly developing research field, which evolves along with the increasingly complex Chinese society. Until the 1980s, studies on historical and contemporary China have been conducted through a few classical approaches: from philology to comparative literature and cultural studies, from economics to demographic and social statistics, from anthropology to ethnology and sociology. The ‘Chinese Universe’ has been studied from a wide array of perspectives and methods, that have been most of the times incapable to interact organically one with the other, and only occasionally have pushed the academia towards a deeper and broader understanding of social phenomena. Most of the research outcomes and findings were generally based upon and shaped by a few epistemological beliefs supporting this or that discipline, or weighing arguments for relevance of this or that branch of knowledge. The use of sources was also limited to the particular field of study the researches belonged to. As a consequence, interdisciplinary programs and scholarships proved to be ineffective, and failed to offer an epistemological structure suitable enough to foster dialogue between diciplines, and reframe the whole field of Chinese Studies.
During the last three decades, Chinese society, together with that broad spectrum of knowledge – usually grouped under the ambiguous name of “Chinese Studies” – with a specific reference on modern and contemporary China, have been interested by radical changes, which required new research approaches and methodologies, more attentive to the various aspects of the changing political and socio-economic environment. With the transformations manifested in this field of studies, the adoption of multiple research tools and the collaborative exchange among academic circles, as well as the possibilities of dialogue, have increased substantially. As a consequence, the claim for more coherent and empirical systematization within the discipline became a key issue, especially in the past few years. Socio-anthropological categories of ethnicity, class and benefit cluster, the formulation of quantitive models made of percentages and numerical variables, survey-based indicators employed by economists in their evaluations, archival research and textual analysis of historical records, local gazzettes, dynasty chronicles and informal accounts, the process of gathering information relying on storytelling, narratology and other classical ethnographic research methods, served all as important and valuable tools for decoding China’s social changes and cultural diversity. Up to now few efforts have been made to combine these different backgrounds into an integral whole, and it seems that we are still far from a fully systematized understanding of the complex ‘Chinese Universe’. Nevertheless, what today seems more interesting is the way researches on China are carried on moving freely across disciplines and boundaries: on one side, historians employ categories borrowed from social sciences, often viewing culture as the result of interplaying between variables; on the other, social scientists are getting more closer to philo-linguistic and textual analysis approaches, availing themselves of literary sources such as manuscripts and archival materials. These emerging research trends where borders between disciplines are increasingly criss-crossed allowing scholars to challenge the limits of their respective fields of research and networks, represent an opportunity both in terms of methodological optimization and research outcomes. At the same time, the emergence of such a renewed theoretical and methodological approach poses many questions: the necessity to establish a series of commonly-agreed standards across many curricular disciplines, as a precondition to nurture and implement interdisciplinary research; then how to match interdisciplinarity with systems of knowledge and intellectual frameworks that still address the study of Chinese social phenomena, remaining in their distinctive ‘watertight compartments’? These questions undoubtly represent a limitation for the development of a comprehensive study on Chinese society.
In order to better understand these transformations in the academia, together with the set of problems and opportunities they entail, this pubblication aims to explore the theme of ‘borders and marginality’ in historical and contemporary China, by combining both theoretical and practical approaches. It invites innovative interpretation of these two concepts, in particular with reference to the dynamics of closure and flow, interdependency and mobility in one or more of the following aspects: cultural inheritance and cross-cultural patterns; loyalties and identity negotiation; economic types and shifting lifestyles; social change and transition. In doing so, it attempts to turn the spotlight beyond the traditional understanding of area studies bounded within rigid academic fields, and to provide an interdisciplinary platform with ideal vantage points for the analysis of the above topical questions. The process of making and maintaning ethnic, ecological, urban, economic and other types of borders will be examined extensively. Another particular type of ‘border’ analysed is the one which institutionally shapes and demarcates subjects into different fields of scientific enquiry. At this regard, trying to expand the borders of epistemology and facilitate cross-border approaches towards conventional ‘protected’ areas of social investigation are the core of this collection of works. On the basis of these considerations, the publication may have far-reaching implications not only for understanding possible relationship between bordering processes and management of cultural diversity, but for other academic topics as well.


2. Applicant eligibility and submission requirements

The issue is being guest by the series “Asia Orientale 古今東亞” and edited by Dr. Tommaso Previato (Sapienza University of Rome) and Dr. Alessandra Cappelletti (Orientale University of Naples). We invite scholars from all fields of humanities and social sciences to submit first a brief description of the intended research and the experience gained (please do not exceed one page). Submissions might be relevant to the topic and visibly engaged with the conceptual frame herewith proposed. Discursive formulation of ideas and models suitable to overcome disciplinary compartmentalization and facilitate cross-disciplinary understanding are particularly encouraged.


3. Paper length, illustrations and other editorial content

For any questions regarding the editing, please see details in the guidelines below.


4. Submission date

Applications are due on March 31, 2014 and may be sent electronically to the editors at the following email addresses: and They include the following items: proposed research paper, abstract and a short (200-words maximum) biographical statement.

Editorial Guidelines

Text and Format Standards
– Submissions must be in word or compatible format, SINGLE-SPACED and approximately 8,000 words in length.
– Font size: 10,5 pt. Justified.
– Paragraphs: the first line of each paragraph or any paragraph that follow an illustration, a table or a chart should be indented.
– Font types: Times New Roman (for Western languages), SimSun o Sunti (for Chinese characters). You may need to send the font file for other used fonts.
– No underlined (and, usually, no bold type). Italics should only be used for foreign words (excluding proper names), titles of books and names of periodicals.
– Quotation marks: please make use of “a quote” and ‘a word’ where applicable.

Titles within the text
– 2 blank lines above titles in the text and 1 blank line under titles.

Bibliography section
– A final bibliography should be attached at the end of the article, following the examples in page 2.
– Keep Primary and Secondary Sources separated (where possible). Please clearly specify the original year of publication and the year of reprinting for Primary Sources (if available).
– Font size 9,5 pt.

Large quotations
    – Font size 9,5 pt, without inverted commas, all indented on the left.
– 1 blank line above and 1 blank line under the quotation.

Illustrations, Tables and Charts
– Must be sufficiently original and signed by the author (where possible), may be inserted in the text document or be included as separate files. Maps and any other self-explanatory pictures taken from websites are acceptable if the source is clearly specified and do not violate the copyright regulations.
– Captions: Font size 9 pt, centered. Denomination: Fig.1., Fig.2. etc.

– Font size 9 pt.
– Footnote reference number in the text has to be placed after punctuation mark.
– Bibliographical references in the footnotes should contain only the author’s surname (for Chinese authors the name is also mandatory), year of publication and pages referred to. Example: Goodrich and Fang 1976, pp. 1577-78. For primary sources only use the work title and page; for Chinese references the Juan/Hui (in capital letter) number has to be followed by a colon and the page number(s). Example: Mingshi, 69:1680.

Please note:

Authors are requested to include Chinese characters and any other words not written in the Latin alphabet in the text, using the UNICODE SYSTEM. The Romanization of Chinese characters should be in pinyin (no tone diacritics are required).

Articles may use the jiantizi (simplified) or fangtizi (traditional) forms for Chinese characters. We recommend to make use of jiantizi for Chinese sources published after 1949, especially for the latest and most recent ones, and fangtizi for sources edited in dynastic times and China’s republican period. If the author has any special requirement he/she is kindly asked to specify clearly in the paper.

Titles like Emperor, Governor-General or name of institutions, bureaus, provinices, counties and similar should be written with the initial letters capitalized. The same principle should be applied to words indicating historical periods (i.e. Yuan Dynasty, Qing Empire). But when used for generic meaning or as a general concept, they may be written in small letters (i.e. Chinese dynasties, north-east provinces).

The titles of Chinese works and sources translated into English should be written in Italics-cursive writings with the initial letters capitalized (i.e. 元史 Official History of the Yuan). If already exists a standard translation for the title of a given source please provide it; on the contrary, if the source has never been mentioned before and there is no reference to it neither in English nor in any other European language please provide a reliable translation and write it in square brackets, as follows: 秦邊紀略 [Records on the Borderland].

Non-English words and phrases, such as latin legal terms de facto, per se etc. or similar expressions taken from other European languages, should be written in Italics-cursive writings (i.e. literatus, en passant).

Citations and quotations from Chinese always need to be translated into English, pinyin is not mandatory but recommended in case of poems and verses.

Examples for the Bibliography

Primary sources

Qingchu Pubian Xiaocheng 清初莆变小乘 [late 1600s], by Chen Hong 陈鸿, repr. in Qingshi Ziliao 清史资料 Vol. 1, ed., Beijing: Zhongguo Shehui Kexueyuan Lishi Yanjiusuo Qingshi Yanjiushi, Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju, pp. 64-107.

Secondary sources
Crossley Pamela K. & Siu Helen F. (2006), Empire at the Margins: Culture, Ethnicity and Frontier in Early Modern China, Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Books in a collection of several volumes:
Ge Zhaoguang 葛兆光 (2000), Qi Shiji Zhi Shijiu Shiji Zhongguo de Zhishi, Sixiang yu Xinyang 七世纪至十九世纪中国的知识:思想与信仰, in Zhongguo Sixiangshi 中国思想史 Vol. 2, Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe 复旦大学出版社.

For works by the same author, please do not repeat the name but use an underscore line, as follows:
Millward James A. (1996), “New Perspective on the Qing Frontiers”, in Hershatter Gail et. all, ed., Remapping China: Fissures in Historical Terrain, Stanford: Stanford University Press.
______ (2007), Eurasian Crossroads: A history of Xinjiang, New York: Columbia University Press.

Articles in a book:
Elman Benjamin A. (2007), “Ming-Qing Border Defence, the Inward Turn of Chinese Cartography, and Qing Expansion in Central Asia in the Eighteenth Century”, in Lary Diana, ed., Chinese State at the Borders, Vancouver: University British Columbia Press.

Articles in a periodical:
Lee Su-Hoon (2000), “The Rise of East Asia and East Asian Social Science’s Quest for Self-Identity”, in Journal of World-Systems Research (vi), N° 3, fall/winter, pp. 768-783.


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