Stranded: Chinese Migrant Scholars in American Universities, 1940-1970
Qing Liu

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



University of Wisconsin-Madison

Primary Discipline

My dissertation focuses on a group of more than one thousand Chinese scholars who came to study in the United States during the 1940s as short-term students but who, owing to unanticipated diplomatic shifts, found themselves "stranded" in American universities during the 1950s and 1960s. Particularly after the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, the U.S. government, for the first time in the history of Sino-American cultural ties, refused to permit American-educated Chinese to return home. Their situation was two-sided. On the one hand, many Chinese scholars in American universities faced discrimination and suspicion about their political loyalties?even in cases where their research had been funded by the federal government itself. On the other hand, as cold war universities were drawn into the national-security state, Chinese scholars' language skills, cultural knowledge, and scientific expertise prompted their recruitment into research and teaching positions. Long before the civil rights movement or the immigration reforms of the mid-1960s opened academic institutions to other racial and ethnic minorities, Chinese scholars became an integral part of the U.S. academy. My research examines how these scholars navigated the variably favorable and unfavorable views of their place in American higher education and negotiated the delicate interplay of nationalism and internationalism in the production of "expert" knowledge. While their experiences took place during an earlier period of Sino-American rivalry, their story parallels similar dynamics of academic (geo)politicization today.
About Qing Liu
Qing Liu is a doctoral candidate in Department of Education Policy Studies and Department of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, specializing in Asian American history, intellectual history and history of higher education. Originally from China, she was educated in Peking University in China, with a degree in the history of Sino-American relations. She has published a few articles in that field in peer-reviewed journals in China. She worked at Sun Yat-Sen University in China for a short time before coming to Madison. Combining her previously study experiences with her current training, Qing is now writing a dissertation focusing on Chinese migrant scholars in American universities during the 1950s and 1960s and examining how their knowledge production shaped, and was shaped by, cold war geopolitics.

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