Matyas Mervay

PhD Candidate, Department of History, GSAS

Synopsis of Research in Shanghai (September 2 - November 21):

Combining Chinese, Hungarian, German, Dutch, English and Russian sources, Mervay’s project focuses on Central Europeans from the former territories of the Habsburg Empire who lived in China between 1915 and 1931. Careful examination of the ever-changing relationship between former refugee Central Europeans and the Chinese authorities will provide a better understanding of Chinese sovereignty in a period when central power was constantly contested both by internal and external forces. The application of the Beijing government’s initial policy to admit and intern the Austro-Hungarian refugee prisoners of war also sheds light on the rise of a new form of Chinese humanitarianism that sustained cooperation between Beijing and the Northeastern provinces. Thirdly, by focusing on municipal archives (e.g. police records), he will gain a better sense of how these refugees were perceived from the ground up. By examining this hitherto overlooked group, he intends to develop a new lens for exploring Chinese state and society in the Republican era. Three research questions aim to keep Mervay’s project on track as of the current stage of his dissertation proposal draft. First: What happens to stateless people in a semi-colonial context? Second, what happens when a state leaves behind its citizens in a foreign country? Finally: How do we connect this historic experience with the present? Does this instance represent an important precedent in the Sino-foreign encounter?

Last Name
Fellows Type
GRI Fellowship
GRI Fellows semester
Fall 2019