Eloise Wright

PhD Candidate

East Asia — China


My research is focussed on the ways our understanding of the world around us changes as our places in it change, in particular how writers literally and metaphorically 'locate' themselves through their production of texts. My research to date analyses the social, textual, and institutional transformations in the production of spatial and historical knowledge on the southwestern periphery of what is now the People's Republic of China.

My dissertation, entitled "Re-Writing Dali: the Construction of an Imperial Locality in the Borderlands, 1253-1675" explores these questions in a specific historical situation. The city of Dali was a regional political and trading centre, which, after the pan-Eurasian disruptions caused by the Mongol conquests, found itself integrated for the first time with the empires to its north-east. Over the next five centuries, Dali received military and civilian migrants from all over the Yuan and Ming empires, while its political system and economic life was re-oriented towards imperial norms. As a result, Dali's local elite families began to enter the examination system and, in their writings, adapted the hegemonic genres and ideology of the 'locality' (地方) to better position themselves within a changing imperial context and at same time maintain their local status and regional primacy.

More broadly, I am interested in the socio-historical study of language and communication, especially written communication; trading histories of geographical knowledge as both institutionalised knowledge system and way of life; and the theoretical problems arising from the comparative study of colonial history across European and non-European empires.


Research Interests

  • Imperial China
  • Ming dynasty
  • Mongol empire
  • Borderlands history
  • Comparative colonialism
  • History of writing and textual practices

Awards & Fellowships

Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation Dissertation Completion Fellowship, 2018-19

Elvera Kwang Siam Lim Fellowship, UC Berkeley CCS, 2017-18

John L. Simpson Fellowship, UC Berkeley IIS, 2017-18

SSRC International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2015-16

ACLS-Luce Predissertation Summer Research Fellowship 2015

Berkeley-Mellon Graduate Fellowship