Students, faculty receive research funding from Canada-China Initiatives Fund

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Research projects at York University focusing on gender, urbanization and identity in the Greater China Region and in the diaspora in Canada received funding earlier this year from the Canada-China Initiative Fund at the York Centre for Asian Research.

Founded in 2019, the Canada-China Initiatives Fund (CCIF) was created to support scholarly exchanges and research on modern (i.e. post 1911) and contemporary People’s Republic of China (PRC), Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, their global reach, their linkages with Canada, or the experiences of the diaspora communities. It was created thanks to the generous support of the Asian Business and Management Program at York University.

The second group of recipients to receive this funding include:

Xin Liu (Cinema and Media Arts)

Every year, schools of salmon find their way back to the banks of the rivers where they were born so that they can relaunch their life cycles. In the end, the salmon that survive mate and then perish. While the end result is a sure death, the salmon are driven by an insurmountable instinct to return home against the strongest of currents.

Through the symbolic parallelism of the salmon run, Upstream is Xin Liu’s 20-minute docufiction film that will explore the identity struggle of Chinese permanent residents in Canada and their immutable yearnings to return home. This film is a component of Liu’s master’s of film production program.

In juxtaposition to the cyclic and inevitable journey of the salmon sun, Liu plans to follow a Chinese permanent resident of Canada who sets out on a journey to relocate back to his hometown in the PRC’s industrial northeast.

Professor Cary Wu (Sociology)

Cary Wu

Not only has the PRC experienced the world’s most rapid urbanization over the last several decades, its large-scale urban transformation is also shaping the forms and fabrics of urbanization in other parts of the world. In this research project, Professor Cary Wu is investigating how Canadian cities are being shaped and transformed by the large-scale of Chinese immigrants and by China’s growing economic power and political influences.

Theoretically, this research will adopt a scenic approach that will focus on the variability of the process and analyze the dimensions, patterns, forms and meanings of how a street or a nation or the world is urbanized. Different cities present different scenes that incorporate and join elements of time, place, characteristics of people, activities like concerts, the built environment and values. Seeing places as scenes provides a way to analyze diverse cities with a common unit of analysis – scenes. This approach generates a scenic urbanization, updating past efforts to capture the core meanings of urbanity.

Empirically, his team will collect demographic and amenities data (e.g., restaurants, grocery stores, shopping malls, parks, and activities) to generate common scenes that are deeply rooted in China’s influences across major Canadian cities including Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary and Montreal. They will then map out these common scenes and explore how they have and continue to shape social life in Canada.

This research project also offers an opportunity to build long-term collaborative relationships by bringing together urban scholars from York, the Chinese Academy of Social Science, and elsewhere in the PRC, for a workshop on comparative perspectives on substantiable urbanization in China and Canada tentatively scheduled for November 2020.

Professor Linda Peake (Social Science, City Institute)

Linda Peake

Professor Linda Peake, the principal investigator of the SSHRC Partnership grant project Urbanization, Gender, and the Global South: A Transformative Knowledge Network (GenUrb) has received funding towards a two-day workshop on Women and Urbanization in China at York.

The invited speakers from the PRC and North America will engage in discussions on rapid urbanization in contemporary China, the impact of the Sustainable Development Goals on women and cities, and the ways in which working women in Chinese cities are negotiating everyday life within and across new urban geographies of inequality. She anticipates that this workshop will lead to a theme issue of an international peer reviewed journal and the creation of a new urban network.

Christopher Vogel (History)

Christopher Vogel, a doctoral candidate in history, received funds in support of York hosting the third biannual conference of the China Academic Network. Building on previous biannual conferences – 2017 at SOAS and 2019 at l’Université libre de Bruxelles – the theme of 2021 conference will be ‘Making Gender in China.’ It will bring together graduate students, early career researchers and established scholars working on gender in the modern greater China region of the PRC and Taiwan.

The conference will focus on materiality studies by exploring both how gender is being enacted, and how it is negotiated in the process of making things (a poem, a cookbook, a translation, a sword, a piece of furniture, noodles, an online protest, a piece of legislation)… and ultimately, of China (broadly construed) itself. This theme draws on the latest trends in scholarship on Chinese gender studies. Through its focus on materiality, this conference will promote an inter-disciplinary approach to the problems of gender and materiality, and will operate at the forefront of research on gender in China.

The CCIF is open to all faculty and students at York University. The next deadline for applications is Wednesday, July 22.

For more information about the CCIF, visit