Noa Nahmias


PhD Candidate, History

Vanier Scholar

My Research

My research examines the relationship between knowledge production, science and nation building through the lens of material culture. My research asks how notions of science and knowledge were negotiated and portrayed to the public in 19th and 20th century China. I focus on museums, since these sites can provide answers to these questions through material objects and display techniques. Studying the objects selected for the display, as well as the display techniques from the language used to the arrangement and order, reveals much about processes of knowledge production in general, and how these were carried out in China in particular.

My research contributes and complicates our understanding of what knowledge production is and how it relates to national and transnational currents. French Jesuits, British naturalists and Chinese entrepreneurs participated in museum building in the late 19th and early 20th century. This period also saw intense transnational encounters which changed how Chinese elites viewed knowledge. My research uses this historical backdrop to explore the concept of knowledge migration and knowledge production.

At York, I also work on a database for Chinese women's periodicals from the early 20th century. This database of the Heidelberg Research Architecture (HRA) is linked to a collaborative project funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the German Humboldt Foundation. Comprehensive in scope, it provides richly graphic scans of or links to digitized versions of the four journals that are the focus of our study, together with comprehensive metadata on the content of the journals—including discursive essays, photographs, advertisements, fiction, and poetry—and on their editors, journalists, and contributors. It can be accessed at Chinese Women’s Magazines in the Late Qing and Early Republican Period.