Jiajun Zou

Kelsey Fritz


BA in History, SUNY Binghamton, 2017

Research Interests

Late imperial China
Maritime Asia
Overseas Chinese Identity
Cross-cultural exchange
Chinese martial culture

Dissertation Topic


Faculty Advisors

Tonio Andrade
Mark Ravina


I am Jiajun who was born in Fujian province in China and immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 13. I am an immigrant who consider myself both Chinese and American. I learned English and classical Chinese all by myself. I can speak Mandarin, Cantonese, and Fujianese. My next goal is to learn Japanese. In my free time, I enjoy practicing martial arts and reading the works of Ming generals and scholar-officials. Many of which are funny and exciting and are time-machines that can take us back to history. I am an enthusiast of martial culture in Chinese history; it coexisted with civil culture, and just like the Yin and Yang, together they constituted the an integral part of Chinese civilization.

My past works looked at how archaeological remains and court records about the Fujianese migrants in Southeast Asia showed the overseas Chinese struggled for an identity for themselves despite being orphaned by their home country and unwelcome by the host societies. Contrary to the earlier scholarships that argued for a story of assimilation, I showed that they were able to achieve cultural dissemination such as through the spread of Southern Chinese Kung Fu and indigenous gods. My undergraduate thesis was about Ming dynasty's Wokou crisis in the sixteenth century. I examined primary sources such as spy letters, diaries from the generals, court records of minor officials, paintings, and court memorials. I concluded that instead of seeing Chinese identity as a homogeneity, the political center alienated and disregarded the interest of maritime people in Fujian, Zhejiang, and Guangdong. I argued that the maritime Chinese shared more connection and common interest with the other cultures and peoples than with the political center, and their voices were largely overshadowed, and their legacies co-opted, by the continuing trend of nationalistic writings today. In the near future, I plan to use more Japanese language sources to establish a cross-cultural perspective on the maritime Chinese. I also like to use genealogy and local sources to understand the Chinese in Southeast Asia, Ryukyu, Japan, and Korea, so to see the ""Tang"" people, or the overseas Chinese, about who they were and how they lived.