My current primary research interest is the determinants of the career trajectories of Qing (1644-1911) officials. For this research, I am collaborating with Yuxue Ren (Shanghai Jiaotong University), James Lee, Liang Chen (Nanjing University), HKUST PhD student Bijia Chen, and many others to construct a database from editions of the jinshenlu (缙绅录) that survive in the Tsinghua University library and which have been collected and published by a team of researchers there. The jinshenlu was a list of officials published every three months that included their names, place of origin, ethnicity, current post, and other details. The officials included ranged from high officials in the 六部 and other central government units down to low-level officials serving in counties. Our very able team of coders is transcribing these records, and nominative linkage of the records of the same official in different editions is straightforward. We are also planning to link these data to other sources such as 题名录, 朱卷, and other sources. Fortunately, many relevant materials have already been made available by the China Biographical Database Project. Thus far, this work has been supported by a grant from the General Research Fund of the Hong Kong Research Grants Council. To our knowledge, this will be one of the first longitudinal studies of a national bureaucracy, contemporary or modern, in its entirety. Our research group web page provides a more detailed introduction to this project.
I am also participating in other Lee-Campbell research group projects. One is a collaboration with the Shanxi University Research Center for Chinese Social History (RCCSH) on a study of rural society in Shanxi from the 1940s to the 1960s, using unique village micro-data collected by researchers at the RCCSH and held in their archives. Another is a study of the social origins of university students and educated elites in China in the first half of the 20th century, using student registration data held in archives.
I have an ongoing interest in the relationships between kinship, inequality, and demographic behavior. This line of work originated in our studies of family, population, and stratification in eighteenth and nineteenth century northeast China, including the book Fate and Fortune in Rural China with James Lee. More recently we have published on a wide variety of other topics, including economic, family and social influences on marriage, fertility limitation, influence of family context in childhood on mortality in middle age and old age, ethnic identity as reflected in naming behavior, and inter-generational social mobility.
For our research on demographic behavior, Lee and I constructed databases from eighteenth and nineteenth century population registers, the China Multigenerational Panel Datasets. We have released these publicly at the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) with support from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) with funds from R01 HD057175-01A1 (Lee PI) and NICHD 1R01HD070985-01 (Campbell PI).
As an outgrowth on this earlier demographic research, I have also participated in the Eurasia Project, an international collaboration that compares relationships between economic conditions, household organization, and demographic behavior for a variety of historical European and Asian communities. I am a co-author of the first volume from this effort, Life Under Pressure, published in 2004 by MIT Press, that examines how household responses to economic stress were reflected in mortality patterns. I also participated in the second volume, Prudence and Pressure, which was published in 2010, and in the third volume, Similarity in Difference, which was published in 2014.
I collaborate with Lee and other members of the Lee-Campbell research group on research on a variety of other projects, including demographic behavior and stratification in the Qing Imperial Lineage; family organization, demographic behavior, and inequality in a frontier population, Shuangcheng, Heilongjiang; access to elite education in China during the Republican era; and the new study of official careers in the Qing bureaucracy mentioned earlier.