This project explores the expansion of the American religious and scientific empire into China through the activities of Harry R. Caldwell (1876–1970), an American Methodist who was famous not only for his proselytizing efforts but also for his animal hunts and specimen collections. Caldwell was able to unite his hunter and missionary roles in the physical and spiritual frontiers of Fujian Province through his ability to protect villages from tigers and his pursuit of the mythical “Blue Tiger,” which had never been captured, either physically or on film. By selling animal specimens and rare tiger skins to the AMNH and piquing its curators’ interest in the fauna of Fujian, Caldwell introduced an economy of hunting and natural expeditions to the coastal province. By desacralizing the invincible and semi-divine tiger, Caldwell and AMNH curators enabled their Chinese partners to reconceptualize their relationship with nature and extract resources from the forests and mountains, thereby integrating southeastern China into the American informal empire.
A Singaporean, I hold a PhD in East Asian Studies from Princeton University and received my BA and MA in Chinese Studies from the National University of Singapore. I currently serve as the editorial assistant of NAN NÜ: Men, Women, and Gender in China (Brill). My articles on Qing and Republican China have appeared in journals such as International Journal of Asian Studies, Journal of Chinese History, Modern Asian Studies, Monumenta Serica, and Twentieth-Century China. My research has been funded by ENITAS (The Institute of Thai Studies, Chulalongkorn University), Center for Chinese Studies Research Grant for Foreign Scholars in Chinese Studies (ROC), Taiwan Fellowship, National University of Singapore Overseas Graduate Scholarship, and National University of Singapore Overseas Postdoctoral Fellowship. I would welcome collaborations in the broad fields of late imperial and modern Chinese histories.