Careering and academic mobility: George B. Cressey's China, 1923–1963

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


George B. Cressey attempted to write a new geography of China, and served the United States and China as a missionary, geographer, and sinologist from the 1920s–1960s. Drawing on the archival materials of Cressey housed in the United States and China, this article examines academic mobility as a form of careering to focus on the international endeavors of a rarely recognized American geographer. I argue that the rejection of Cressey began with the Chinese Nationalist and the U.S. governments in the 1940s, and culminated in Communist China in the 1950s, entangled in political turmoil and debates over environmental determinism. This article diversifies the writing of the history of geography by breaking the dualism of centre and periphery following Cressey's career trajectory. The work also demonstrates the complexity of transnational academic mobility and its entanglements with politics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-22
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Historical Geography
Early online date17 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author would like to acknowledge the Lam Woo Research Fund (2020–2022) and the Faculty Research Grant (2020–2021) from Lingnan University for financial support. He is also grateful to Norman Kutcher, Peng Gao, Geraldine Forbes, Stephen Legg and the four anonymous referees of this journal for their stimulating comments.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Ltd


  • Academic mobility
  • Environmental determinism
  • George B. Cressey
  • History of geography
  • Modern China


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