Xing, Chengji (Sally)

Field: United States; Advisor: Ngai; Year: 2016

Sally Xing is a second-year Americanist at the History Department interested in “US in the world”, intellectual history and transnational history.

Before joining the Columbia community, she has been interested in delving into themes of US history outside the US. She finished her bachelor thesis “The Readership, Reception and Transnational Impact of Alexis de Tocqueville’s 1835 edition of Democracy in America”, which earned a UA International Award. She also wrote about Thomas Paine’s transatlantic experiences in Britain, France and the United States, and that research lately led her to Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies as a resident fellow in the summer of 2017.

Her current project explores twentieth century US history, particularly between the 1910s and 1940s, from a trans-Pacific approach. During her first year she has been writing about Chinese collective sentiments towards the US as shaped to transnational exchanges of people and ideas circa 1919, regarding the pro-Wilsonian ideas of Hu Shi (a Columbia graduate in 1917, advisee of John Dewey), John Dewey’s visit to China between 1919 and 1921, and the Chinese national aspiration for Wilsonian promise of self-determination during the May Fourth Movement, along with the subsequent disillusionment that sparked a tide of nationalism. Her recent archival work in Shanghai led her to pay more attention to the experiences of divergent groups of Americans in China, along with the rise and fall of anti-Americanism in East Asia. Delving into transnationalism on an individual basis, she aspires to challenge nation-centric historical narratives by showing how the trans-Pacific exchange of people, ideas and commodity revealed neglected facets of twentieth century US history, and dig into Pacific aspects in the making of “the American century”(to quote the China-born American magazine magnate Henry Luce).



Sally has been working closely with History in Action at Columbia and was a HAPA recipient for her project “Sino-American Scholarly Online Exchange Project”, introducing Americanists in the US to audience in China through oral interview. Along with that, she has also translated Akira Iriye’s Global and International History (2013, Palgrave MacMillan, to be published early in 2018) and Sean Wilentz’s The Rise of American Democracy (Norton, 2008, abridged edition) into Chinese, under the name 邢承吉. Her interest in “US in the world” and transnational history has something to do with her sustained transnationalism over the years, when she cooperated with Chinese scholars and published a series of review essays and oral interviews on topics of US history outside the US. In this coming academic year, she co-convenes the Cultural and Intellectual Workshop, co-coordinates as the Student of Color Association (SoCA)liaison at the department, and coordinates the History in Action program on social media. She has worked as research assistant for Professor Frank Guridy's "Columbia 1968" project and Professor Mae Ngai's "Chinese Overseas" project.