China has become a major contributor to world science today, with the highest number of scientific publications in the world, a centralized government willing to sponsor the development of science, and pioneering scientists in all disciplines. Where did this scientific power emerge from historically and how did this history connect with the rest of the world? My research on the China Foundation for the Promotion of Culture and Education suggests that understanding the Sino-American intellectual exchange network since the early twentieth century is essential for us to grasp the development of science in modern China.
Building on my extensive archival research of the China Foundation in the US, Taiwan and China, the project Digitalizing the China Foundation Network merges digital humanities and data analysis approaches with cutting-edge transnational intellectual history research. It focuses on knowledge exchange networks between China and the United States and the key nexus of this intellectual exchange: the China Foundation. More specifically, it utilizes digital humanities and data analysis methods to trace the interpersonal networks, trajectories, and intellectual contexts forged by participants of the China Foundation in transnational history.
By establishing a database encompassing the China Foundation network and affiliated individuals, archival information is transcribed into structured data. In-depth text analysis is then conducted to transform textual data into informative knowledge networks, elucidating intellectual exchanges, collaborations, and debates. This forms the basis for further textual interpretation and research analysis. In so doing, this project unveils the intricate transpacific network established by China Foundation participants. Methodological innovations of this project include building social network graphs, employing network analysis and visualization tools, and applying text analysis to interpret and track changes in focus areas of China Foundation funding allocations, from 1924 to 1949.