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Davis, California

Monday, April 15, 2024

Anthropology professor awarded Guggenheim Fellowship

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation awarded $8.2 million in fellowships last week to 190 artists, scholars and scientists in the United States and Canada.

Out of more than 2,600 applicants, 18 of the selected few are University of California faculty, greater than any other system with just under a whopping 10 percent of the winners.

“[The UC system is] very pleased that 18 members of our faculty have been honored by this very prestigious award. The broad range of faculty recognized and their specialties highlights the tremendous strength of our faculty in a diverse set of fields,” said Chris Harrington, spokesperson for the UC system.

Among others, some of those fields are anthropology, classics, philosophy, rhetoric and film, studio arts and sculpture.

Across the UC system, there were six Guggenheim recipients at UC Berkeley, six at UCLA, three at UC Irvine, two at UC San Diego and one from UC Davis – Li Zhang, associate professor of anthropology, who plans to use her grant in researching the rise of psychotherapy in post-reform China.

Zhang was very pleased and somewhat surprised to have been awarded the grant.

“I thought I would give it a try, but I didn’t expect to win because it is a very difficult grant to get and has gone to some very well established people, but I’m very honored and extremely happy to have won,” she said.

Her award spans one year and pays for partial salary replacement so she can devote herself to research on this project.

The grant is about $43,000 – enough for Zhang to take off from her job and embark on a research sabbatical.

“I can either go to China and research in the field, or stay here and do library research and preliminary preparation to start the project, which I hope to work on over the next five years,” Zhang said.

Her project is very different from anything she has done before. Her first book, Strangers in the City, traced the profound transformation of space, power and social networks within China’s floating population in the context of socialism and globalization.

Zhang’s second book, and current project, examines the spatial, cultural and political consequences of privatizing and commercializing Chinese urban housing at a time of shifting from socialism to more modern ideals.

In her upcoming research under the Guggenheim grant, Zhang said she will examine the growth of psychological counseling in China.

“I’m going to look at the new movement in contemporary China that many urban middle class people are now seeking psychological counseling,” she said.

This is very new in China, and Zhang hopes to find out why this is occurring at this particular historical moment.

On her website, Zhang states that she is interested in the technoscientific formulation of the person through professional talk-therapy.

Explaining why this is the “inner revolution,” Zhang said, “I call it the inner revolution because I’ve worked in the past on the sociocultural political impact of China’s market reform, but this is entirely within the interior of people’s minds.”

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation was created in 1925 by U.S. Senator Simon Guggenheim and his wife as a memorial to a son who died Apr. 26, 1922. Since then, the New York-based foundation has granted more than $265 million in fellowships to almost 16,500 people.


MIKE DORSEY can be reached at campus@californiaaggie.comXXX


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