Canadian Stories · Chinese Culture · Chinese Genealogy

Travels in China – introducing Dr. Henry Yu, UBC

A tour is only as good as the information being provided. I’ve been on bus tours where the driver recites his canned speech for the entirety of the ride. His knowledge is paper-thin – if you ask him a question, you might get the right answer, or he might make it up.

Not this tour.

I’d like to introduce you to Dr. Henry Yu. There was literally nothing we could ask him or Dr. Tan that they did not know, or couldn’t find for you immediately. If you missed it, here is my post on Selia Tan: Introducing Dr. Tan.

The only resemblance to the other kind of bus tour is that Dr. Yu and Dr. Tan did use the time on the bus as lecture time. It was both wonderful and distracting – here are the sights of China going by – and at the same time, you’re getting a world-class education about, oh, the concept of social capital and how it plays out in social, economic, and interpersonal relations in Chinese society today. Do you look out the window or take notes? I’m afraid I spent my first few days of lectures listening while looking out the window – that is, until I got my geek on and pulled out my notebook.

Dr. Henry Yu, University of British Columbia, Canada

Dr. Henry Yu, Cangdong Village, Guangdong. Oct 2019. © Past Presence. All rights reserved.

Let’s start with the basics: Dr. Henry Yu is an associate professor of history at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, BC. His specialities are trans-Pacific migration, Asian Canadian history, and a lot more besides. He’s been researching and lecturing on the Chinese Canadian diaspora since, well, forever. If you Google him, you’ll get a gadjillion hits on a wide range of topics, so let me find some links for you.

For this post, I’m going to provide videos, in English, where Henry talks about Chinese Canadian history. Thanks to the tour, I’m absorbing a lot more from more scholarly articles, but my guess is you’re not looking for something so heavy with your morning coffee.

Because if you can’t do the tour, you can at least benefit from the talks.

Here is Dr. Yu talking about the effects of split families, using his own family’s story.

Here is Dr. Yu discussing the head tax (2 parts):

And here is Dr. Yu talking about clan associations (2 videos):

All videos from the YouTube Channel SFU2C

The photo

Henry stands in what was once the living room of a village home and discusses how a village comes to this state and what happens to the people and possessions that were once here.

Version 2
Dr. Henry Yu, Abandoned Village, Guangdong, China. Oct 2019. © 2019. Past Presence. All rights reserved.

Next time

Now that I’ve introduced you to Drs. Selia Tan and Henry Yu, who, along with their teams made this tour such an unparalleled experience, I’ll share some genealogical resources. Here is the link.

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