Travel Grant Series: Visit to China for Social Transformation Research

2011 Summer Travel Report
by Xiaofeng Kang
EWC Degree Fellow
PhD student in Geography

EWC Degree Fellow Xiaofeng Kang

(EWC Degree Fellow Xiaofen Kang (r) interviewing a villager in Xishuangbanna, China.)

Funded through the EWCA Alumni Summer Travel Grant, I was able to return China for the first time since I left three years ago. During the three-month summer, I got reunion with family and traveled several places in China for making connections for my research. By visiting each of the places and meeting people from different walks of life, I advanced my knowledge and understanding on the complexities of the interconnections between the land use change and social transformation in China. I investigated the track of local livelihood change of the farmers living in southern Yunnan and the implications of rubber plantation in their social economic transformation. The visiting of local villages and interviews with farmers enriched my knowledge on this topic, and the knowledge and findings from this trip will significantly contribute to my dissertation proposal formation. I appreciate the alumni summer travel grant, which enabled me to realize this meaningful travel and visiting.

The places I traveled in China include Beijing, Kunming, and Xishuangbanna. In Beijing I visited Minzu University of China and met the teachers and students in the College of Life and Environment Science. We discussed the potential collaboration on the research I intended to conduct next year. This institution would be one possible funding source for my dissertation research. After Beijing trip, I traveled back to Kunming, and visited my previous university, Yunnan University. I met several professors including my previous advisor in my master degree study. The briefed me with the development of local socio-economic transitions in recent years and their perspectives on my dissertation topic. In Kunming, I also met government officials, who helped me get access to the villages I planned to visit. Then, I left for the villages, which became the most impressive part of the travel in the summer. I visited three different villages in Xishuangbanna. In each village, I interviewed with the villagers about their livelihood transitions and their involvement in the rubber plantation. I also visited both rich and poor households in each village to investigate the social implication of the fast-changing landscape and economic transformation. The findings from the village visiting was beyond my expectation, and thus very helpful to orient my research and formulate interesting research questions for the dissertation.

Xiaofeng Kang in China

(Xiaofeng Kang (r) during his visit to one of the villages in Xishuangbanna, China.)

Overall, I had a very meaningful and substantial travel in different parts of China this summer. The traveling and visiting in each places were very helpful for my future dissertation, especially the household interviewing in the villages. These were all thanks to the alumni summer travel grant. I am so much honored and appreciate this valuable funding opportunity. Thank you!