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416 China Review International: Vol. 4, No. 2, Fall 1997 William J. Haas. China Voyager. Armonk, New York: M. E. Sharpe, 1996. xii, 345 pp. Hardcover $65.00, isbn 1-56324-674-0. Paperback $24.95, isbn 1-56324-675-9. In this well-researched monograph, William J. Haas retells for us the life of Nathaniel Gist Gee (hereafter Gist Gee, his preferred name; "Qi Tianxi" is the name that he is known by in China), who contributed to the foundation of scientific education and, to some degree, the educational system in China. Through his work, first as a science educator and, to a much lesser degree, as a missionary, Gee provided the flux necessary for the linkage of the Western scientific paradigm in the early twentieth century with Chinese culture. Although the central government and the scientific community in China (rightly) resisted the ethnocentrism ofWestern religious teachings, they initially embraced the Western scientific paradigm as the means for the betterment of the Chinese people. Because of the rapidity with which the Chinese were able to learn science and then teach it at their own institutions, they eventually came to challenge the foreign institutions that were the bearers of that knowledge. Although Haas discusses some of the conflicts between American and Chinese values and institutions, Peter Buck is more thorough in his discussion of the ultimate conflict that undermined the effective use of science as the "salvation" of the Chinese people.1 Not realizing the essential differences of cultural institutions in China, the ideals oflaboratory research , scientific method, and professional expertise that were envisioned by Americans and their Chinese colleagues did not provide adequate theoretical frameworks for social or scientific practice.2 Surprisingly, Haas has not included any reference to Buck's research even though both discuss many of the same topics and personalities. (And Buck never mentions Gist Gee.) In recounting Gist Gee's life, from the time his family established roots in Union, South Carolina, until the passing of "Dr." Gee in 1937 at the young age of sixty-one, Haas has filled a gap in the history of science in China from i860 to 1930. Gist Gee and Union, South Carolina, have been largely left out of this history . Both would have remained obscure except for Haas' efforts (and, more recently , due to the tragic deaths that have occurred in John D. Long Lake over the last few years).3 Haas argues that science in China followed the same pattern of development as science in the United States. The fields that developed earliest were related to© 1997 by University geography: the earth sciences and the classification of plants and animals. Even ofHawai t Pressthough Westerners had been studying natural history in China for decades, Gee wanted China to have its own collections of specimens and its own literature about them. In 1901, Gee left his native South Carolina to teach natural science at Reviews 417 Dongwu, the new university established by the Southern Methodists in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province. Although Gee was trained as a Methodist preacher, he found his home in science education, a direction determined by his Methodist education at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Some ofhis students, however, were ambivalent about a science education that might conflict with the study of the classics and religion. One student wrote that despite the inroads of scientific materialism, the universe must include God; his argument rested on the idea that ifyou have a universe that science makes intelligible, then it must have been created by a higher intelligence. Gee was born in Union, South Carolina—called "Union" because a coalition ofProtestant organizations shared a log cabin there as their house ofworship—to Reuben and Gertrude [Gist] Gee, who "humbly" settled in Union County in 1840. Gertrude was the daughter ofNathaniel Gist, Jr. The Gists were a prominent Southern family who were initially sympathetic to the preservation of the Cherokee nation, especially since the Cherokee people had helped the whites ofSouth Carolina during the French and Indian War. Sympathies led to romance, and Nathaniel Gist fathered a mixed-race child, Sequoyah, witii a woman named Wut-teh from a high-ranking Cherokee family. Sequoyah was perhaps better known...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 416-422
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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