Foreign Ink: Student Mobility, Overseas Training and Chinese Geography, 1912–1952

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

5 Citations (Scopus)


During China’s Republican period Chinese students, supported by public and private scholarships, gathered at the University of Liverpool and Clark University for geographical training. Upon their return these students revolutionized traditional Chinese geography with the introduction of regional geography and fieldwork. The returning students and ‘native geographers’ – who had very limited professional overseas training – split into factions that competed for control of the Geographic Society of China and other resources. However, the Chinese Communist regime’s programme of thought reform changed the trajectory of these returning geographers, resulting in the decline of human geography and the rise of historical geography. The story of these returning Chinese students is valuable for understanding the modernization of geography as a discipline in China and academic mobility as both an intellectual venture and a lived experience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-54
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Historical Geography
Early online date28 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

The author would like to acknowledge a Faculty Research Grant from Lingnan University (2018/2019, Reference: 101874) for financial support. He is also grateful to Geraldine Forbes, Miles Ogborn, Benjamin Choo and the three anonymous referees of this journal for their insightful and meticulous comments.


  • Academic geography
  • Academic mobility
  • History of geography
  • Modern China


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