Institute of Asia and Pacific Studies

PhD student Freddie Stephenson reports on fieldwork in Asia

PhD student Freddie Stephenson reports on his fieldwork In Hong Kong and China, partly funded by the Institute of Asia and Pacific Studies.


From March to July 2017, I conducted fieldwork in Hong Kong and Shanghai. My time was spent consulting archival materials, unavailable elsewhere, relating to my doctoral research into public health under British imperialism. The extant data and sources were gathered primarily from visits to the Hong Kong Public Records Office, the Special Collections at the University of Hong Kong Library, the Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences, the Shanghai Municipal Archives, the Shanghai Library, and the Xujiahui Library. These materials will constitute the body of my thesis, providing a different perspective to documents held in UK archives, which tend to deal only with the highest levels of government and administration, rather than the quotidian society of Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Alongside allowing me to situate my research in its geographic and cultural setting, I also gained a sense of the modern legacy of the history I am writing from the built environment and popular memory today. Likewise, the fieldwork gave me valuable opportunities to network and share my research. I presented on the title, “Epidemic Responses at the Edges of Empire: Bubonic Plague in Hong Kong and Shanghai”, at the University of Hong Kong’s History Graduate Research Seminar series before leading scholars on Hong Kong’s history and of health in the Asia-Pacific region. Likewise, I attended the HKU History Department’s Annual Spring Symposium, a conference drawing together postgraduate researchers globally, during which I participated in various panels examining colonial Hong Kong.

Posted on Thursday 24th August 2017

Institute of Asia and Pacific Studies

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