Self-introduction: Scott Relyea 李皓同

Hi everyone at 井底之蛙,

First of all, I’d like to thank Konrad for the invitation to join the Frog in a Well community. I’m happy to become part of what I think is quite an exciting web project and look forward to adding comments and posts to what’s already a collection of quite interesting and enlightening discussions.

So, the introduction, I’m a Ph.D. candidate in Chinese History at Chicago and am currently based in Chengdu for most of this year conducting research on ‘Sichuan Khams’, the western part of Sichuan Province on the 青藏高原, made famous in song throughout the southwest. My route to history began at much lower altitude, with a degree in Journalism at Northwestern before moving on to a Master’s degree in International Affairs from GW, followed by another MA at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. While at GW my research in IR focused particularly on contemporary sovereignty issues and trans-boundary interactions among neighbouring sub-state political, economic, or social entities, an interest which remains at the near-periphery of my current dissertation project. In between the various degrees, I was a research assistant at the U.S. Institute for Peace in D.C. and did stints in web administration and design in various cities. (I guess that’s a bit of an academic meander!)

My interest in East Asia and the regions of historical or contemporary China originally began during my years at GW, spurring me to spend the requisite summer at Middlebury. But my shift into the field of history, and particularly the late Qing period came while at SOAS. Since 2001 I’ve been at Chicago with research or language trips to Taipei, Darjeeling, Dharamshala, London, and various points between. For a little non-academic diversion, a link to some photos from some of these trips can be found on my admittedly quite dull website (, long overdue for an update…

Currently titled Pacifying Khams: Qing Imperialism and the Bureaucratisation of Colonial Space, the dissertation project essentially encompasses the 15-year period from 1904, the arrival of Younghusband in Lhasa, to 1919, when the last significant negotiations on the international status of Tibet took place between Great Britain and the ROC government in Beijing. While this may seem that the British efforts in Tibet are central to the thesis, indeed they’re not, although most histories, in Chinese as well, would tend to place them at the centre as at least catalyst of certain events. This period encompasses the two major military campaigns sent from Chengdu to Khams, that of 趙爾豐 Zhao Erfeng from 1907-1911, and 尹昌衡 Yin Changheng from 1912-1913, as well as the Simla Conference and lesser-known negotiations carried out directly between the military government of Sichuan Province and representatives of the Dalai Lama during 1912. The central focus of the dissertation is on the political and economic importance of Sichuan Khams to both the central and provincial governments during the years 1904 to 1919 and its consequent effect on the state-building and province-building policies of each respectively.

As I’ve been spending much of the last few months in libraries and archives in Sichuan going through memorials and especially 報刊 produced both by organs of the provincial government and by local literati, I expect at least my initial posts will come from or relate to some of what I’ve been finding.

I suppose that’s a rambling enough intro, so I’ll leave it at that and post something more substantive soon. BTW, that’s not me on the right, just one of my fellow researchers these days at the 四川省圖書館


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