My first book project, which is based on my doctoral dissertation “Publishing at the Grassroots: Print Culture and Rural Society in Early Modern China” (Washington University in St. Louis, 2022), traces the history of Chinese genealogies between 1450 and 1644. Genealogies were large compilations of family-related texts and images. They started to be popular around 1500 and became possibly the most widespread type of books in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I found that the proliferation of genealogies was both a product of and a catalyst for the development of lineage organizations (large-scale patrilineal organizations that performed multiple functions) in southern China. It was also a process in which book and print culture started to penetrate rural society, reaching both the literate and illiterate populations at the bottom of Chinese society.
I am also working on projects on a variety of topics, such as movable-type printing technology, the social practices and cultural meanings of adoption (jisi 继嗣) in late imperial China, and what I call “outcasts of the family system”—family traitors, remarried wives, and bond-servants, who were ostracized from their families but had to live in the same community with stigma. At the center of all these projects is an interest in the relationship between everyday practice and knowledge production. For more information, see my personal website xinyuhistory.com.
Xin Yu, “Local Politics and Book Production: The Popularization of Genealogies in Southern China, 1750s–1920s.” Late Imperial China, forthcoming.