The Saga of Anthropology in China: From Malinowski to Moscow to Mao

By Gregory Eliyu Guldin | Go to book overview

Chapter 3

Foreign Visitors

Functionalism Comes to China

Meanwhile, back in Beijing, functionalism was coming to China. By the mid‐ 1930s, anthropology in the universities had come to mean sociocultural anthropology and courses in ethnology were offered at Beijing, Tongji, Jinling (Chin-ling), Zhongyang (Central), Qinghua (Tsinghua), and Yanjing (Yenching) universities. The functionalist approach had already established a firm beachhead at Yunnan and Qinghua universities, but it was at Yanjing University that the new school of thinking made its greatest mark (Li 1986:32).

Yanjing University was well positioned to receive foreign ideas. It was closely tied to Harvard University, and was American run and financed (the Rockefeller Foundation as well as Harvard and Princeton universities; Wong 1979:15). Half of the faculty were foreigners, and the founder of its Sociology Department in 1919 was John Stewart Burgess, an American from Princeton. Prominent in Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) activities in China, Burgess also conducted pioneer survey research in China, as did other foreigners, and he collaborated with Sydney Gamble to produce a comprehensive social survey of Beijing (Arkush 1981:28; Wong 1979:12-13). By the early 1930s, however, Chinese faculty were beginning to replace foreigners on the staffs of these early sociology departments (Wong 1979:20). This sinicization of personnel, however, did not mean that sociology as a field was sinicized. On the contrary, the Chinese faculty in these departments, many of whom had returned from studies abroad, faithfully replicated the thinking and approach of their

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