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Yijun Wang

Bio: 

Yijun Wang is a graduate student in history at Columbia University in the City of New York, United States. Her research interest includes material culture, artisan’s knowledge, history of science and technology, and gender in early modern China. Yijun is currently working on her dissertation on the circulation of pewter making technology and tin mining technology between China and Southeast Asia in the 18th and early 19th centuries. From a geographical perspective, Yijun explores on how tin mining and smelting technology circulated amongs Chinese diaspora and discusses how the movement of mining knowledge from China to Banka contributed to the formation of an intra-Asia trade. On the other hand, she studies the creation of new styles in pewter production and argues that the change of styles is a result of inter-media and inter-regional communication between artisans. Local artisans imitated the styles and designs from imperial workshops and Jiangnan area—the fashion and cultural center. They also appropriated the designs and making technology from “high-end” materials such as porcelain, zisha, and silver to the craft of pewter. Through imitation and appropriation, pewter artisans added “cultural value” to their products and increased commodity value to their products. Yijun tends to show how the circulation of mining technology and intra-Asia trade mutually contributed to each other, and how changes in styles and designs demonstrate the hierarchies and power dynamics inside craftsman’s community and artifact market.