Phase 2: Finding Helpful Resources
This is Phase 2, where I will be collecting sources of information to find answers and maybe even some more questions. In Phase 1, I came up with ten big questions to focus my research on in Xizhou. To start browsing the Internet for online resources, I need to come up with a list of keywords or search terms, and some criteria for judging if a website is reliable or not.
Keywords or search terms for online resources:
- Chinese architecture destruction/demolition/defacing
- Chinese Cultural Revolution
- Yunnan architecture history
- Bai Minority architecture history
- Dali architecture history
- Architectural preservation
- China architecture preservation
- China cultural relics bureau
Criteria for determining a website's reliability:
- Keep your eyes peeled for URLs ending in 'edu', 'gov', or 'org'. They are generally by educational institutions, government organizations, or non-profits.
- Be careful about 'com' websites. They generally are registered to for-profit corporations.
- Be sure to keep the webpage's age in mind — unless for historical articles. Look out for 'Last updated' and the copyright years listed behind the symbol '©' at the bottom of the page.
Finding and contacting author(s) of content:
- Look for the authors of a website, especially in an 'About Us' section or, in the case of articles, at the top of the page under the title. Try to find out ways to reach them — generally an email would be listed or linked from the author's subpage or article.
There is a surprising amount of results pertaining to the search terms on Google Scholar, but many of them do not have any relevance to my inquiry topic. I was only able to find the email of one expert who may have some knowledge on the topic.
Dr. Charlie Xue (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dr. Xue is originally from Shanghai, China and currently works at the City University in Hong Kong. He has written books on my topic, including Building a Revolution: Chinese Architecture since 1980. An auto-reply states that he will be back from leave on Nov 28, so I am hopeful of a reply soon.
Sample of correspondence:
Dear (insert name of expert),
My name is Benjamin, currently in eighth grade of Shanghai American School in China. In the coming weeks, sixteen students (including myself) will stay in Xizhou, Yunnan to study our individual inquiry projects. I am studying some of the architectural destruction that occurred during the Cultural Revolution and the current state of preserving these buildings, so I was wondering if you can support my inquiry project by taking a look at ten of the "big questions" I have right now and possibly share some feedback and knowledge on the topic. I hope that you may recommend some other experts on the topics.
1. Why have certain buildings been destroyed/defaced/demolished?
2. Which buildings have been destroyed/defaced/demolished?
3. Who may have orchestrated/done the damage?
4. What do villagers remember about the damage done to the buildings?
5. What attitudes do villagers have about the damage?
6. Was the government possibly involved in any of this damage/destruction/defacing?
7. What sort of techniques do scientists or the government use to preserve the architecture of Xizhou?
8. What sort of laws protect such architecture? If so, are they effective in their role?
9. What difficulties does the government or do businesses, organizations, and individuals have with restoring and/or preserving architecture?
10. Why should the government, businesses, organizations, or individuals preserve or restore architecture?
If you would like to find out more, you can also see more on my inquiry project here:
Thank you for taking the time to read this email. I will look forward to your reply.
Replies so far: 0 (updated in real-time)
Upon arrival here in Xizhou, I interviewed three to five staff or chaperones for three to five minutes each to find out more about local contacts here that may have knowledge about my topic.
Annaliese – a staff member at YZR
Annaliese seems to have a lot of connections with local villagers and staff members and is very knowledgeable about historical events and information.
Most of what information I need is visible around me and is common knowledge in Xizhou.
Fay and Xiaotang may have visited some of the other "homes" around Xizhou (e.g. the mansion by the tie-dye shop, the Yan and Dong family homes)
Mr. Zhao, the guard, has led many people on tours around Xizhou to these places and is quite willing to take others around to see the destruction.
Mr. Linden may have a better idea about restoration and the procedures involving historical relics.
Fay – a staff member at YZR
Fay has a lot of friends and acquaintances at the Linden Centre and around town and has lived in Xizhou long enough to notice architectural details and learn about the stories behind them.
Mr. Zhao and Mr. He, the guards at YZR, have lived in old buildings like Yangzhuoran in Xizhou for their entire lives and may have witnessed some of the destruction happening. Mr. Zhao, in particular, owns another family home by Dong'anmen (东安门), but his family currently resides in a newly-built home.
Ms. Gao, a cleaning lady at YZR, has lived for all her life in Xizhou and may know a thing or two about my topic.
Mr. Yang (aka Abiao) was a contractor for the Linden Centre during the renovation. Because the Linden Centre is currently undergoing renovation, he may be quite busy for this week, and his Mandarin is heavily accented, but Fay or Annaliese could help translate.
Zoe, Andrew, and other staff members at the Linden Centre must know first-hand a lot of information regarding the destruction and reconstruction that took, and is, taking place.
Ms. Mai – a chaperone from SAS
Ms. Mai has spent a lot of time here in Xizhou and has many local contacts.
Mr. Linden has spent years restoring the Linden Centre and Yangzhuoran to their former glory and may recommend some other locals who have helped him in the process or witnessed the damage firsthand.
Mr. Yang, a former guard at YZR, lives just around the corner in the alley. He now shares his home with three or four other families. Some parts of the building have been badly burned during the Cultural Revolution. His home also has propaganda painted on doors and walls because if he didn't paint it, the home would be ransacked by pro-government protesters and the Red Guard.
Mr. Duan, a former government official, is friends with Mr. T. He once went to Vietnam to support the government there, and his home is past the tree by Ranyi Xiang. The old portion of his home has deteriorated badly, so it is used only as a kitchen as he has rebuilt his home around the courtyard.
Mrs. Yang is one of the youngest contacts, but she owns a guesthouse next to the LInden Centre. It was once a village compound, and she shares it with her parents. Her parents probably were alive during the Cultural Revolution.
Mr. Yang, the antique dealer, must know a lot about the Cultural Revolution, as he collects all sorts of antiques that may have been considered to be counter-revolutionary during the Cultural Revolution.
The cheesemaker by Dong'anmen lives in a rather old home, and some of the paint seems to be chipped and decorations look to be missing.
There is a small collection of books in Yangzhuoran, but I have heard that there is an even larger library in the Linden Centre that I can check out some time. Here are some topics that may be useful for collecting background information on my topic:
- Xizhou/Yunnan/Chinese history
- Cultural Revolution
- Architectural preservation
- Cultural relic protection
- Bai minority culture
As I have found various contacts and sources in this phase, I will start to interview local contacts and record the information in Phase 3.