In Memoriam

On Wednesday, October 29, 2008, Prof. Edgar Wickberg, a longtime member of the Department of History at UBC, passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer. Prof. Wickberg taught Modern Chinese History at UBC between 1969 and his retirement in 1992, and achieved an international reputation as a leading scholar of the global Chinese diaspora, but his lasting impact went well beyond his research on the Chinese in the Philippines and in Canada. He helped grow Chinese Canadian history as a subject of study, creating a lasting place within UBC and within Canadian higher education for students and scholars to examine the long complex history of the Chinese in Canada. He will be remembered fondly by many students and colleagues for his kindness and generousity, and his eagerness to discuss every subject from Cantonese opera to AAA baseball. Many Chinese Canadian students will remember his patience during office hours and the depth of his empathy for their personal struggles to understand their identities as Chinese in Canada.

Ed Wickberg's engagement with the many Chinese Canadian communities of Vancouver went well beyond that of scholarship. "From China to Canada," the collaborative book project that he helped co-author and edit, remains a foundational text for understanding Chinese Canadian history, and it revealed his deep commitment to working with a wide range of community members to construct a balanced and nuanced history that went beyond the standard histories of what "had been done" to Chinese in Canada. He believed in the importance of Chinese language sources for understanding the rich lives of Chinese Canadians, and pioneered the preservation and collection of such materials. After his retirement, Ed's commitment to partnerships between academia and community led to his vision for the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of British Columbia, a broad-based society committed to increasing awareness of the importance of the Chinese in B.C. and Canadian history, as well as the collecting and preservation of materials relating to that history. Drawing upon the credibility and trust that he had built up over decades of devotion to understanding Chinese Canadian history, Ed was able to draw together a wide array of scholars and community members who shared his passion to found what became a highly successful historical society.

In gratitude for his vision and his hard work as the Founding President, the CCHSBC created the Edgar Wickberg Scholarship in 2006 to honour his lifetime of passion for Chinese Canadian history by encouraging and supporting students in its study. Ed's expressed wish in the weeks before his passing was that donations be made to the "Chinese Canadian Historical Society of British Columbia" for the Dr. Edgar Wickberg Scholarship fund, as a way to honour his memory. Donations may be sent to:

Chinese Canadian Historical Society of British Columbia (CCHSBC)
Kerrisdale Postal Station
PO Box 18032
Vancouver, BC V6M 4L3

Ed Wickberg's Publications

Compiled by Prof. Wing-Chung Ng, University of Texas - San Antonio

“Spanish Records in the Philippine National Archives.” Hispanic American Historical Review 35 (1955), 77-89.

“The Chinese in the Philippine Economy and Society, 1850-1898.” Ph.D. dissertation, University of California at Berkeley, 1961.

“Early Chinese Economic Influence in the Philippines: 1850-1898.” Pacific Affairs 35.3 (1962), 275-85.

“The Chinese Mestizo in Philippine History.” Journal of Southeast Asian History 5.1 (1964), 62-100.

The Chinese in Philippine Life, 1850-1898. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965.

“Economic Nationalism and the Chinese in the Philippines.” In Charles O. Houston, ed., Proceedings of the First Colloquium on the Philippines, 29-36. Kalamazoo, MI: Western Michigan State University, 1969.

“Japanese Land Policies in Taiwan, 1895-1945.” Agricultural History 43.3 (1969), 369-78.

“The Chinese in Philippine History.” Asia 4.18 (1970), 1-15.

“The Taiwan Peasant Movement, 1923-1932: Chinese Rural Radicalism under Japanese Development Programs.” Pacific Affairs 48.4 (1975-76), 558-82.

“Land Reform in Mainland China and Taiwan.” Peasant Studies 7.4 (1978), 250-62.

“Spanish Frontiers in the Western Pacific, 1662-1700.” In William S. Coker, ed., Hispanic-American Essays in Honor of Max Leon Moorhead, 12-36. Pensacola, Fla.: Perdido Bay Pr., 1979.

“New Directions in Chinese Historiography, Reappraising the Taiping: Notes and Comment.” With Alex Volkoff, Pacific Affairs 52.3 (1979), 479-90.

“Some Problems in Chinese Organizational Development in Canada, 1923-1937.” Canadian Ethnic Studies 11.1 (1979), 88-98.

“Chinese and Canadian Influences on Chinese Politics in Vancouver, 1900-1947.” B.C. Studies 45 (1980), 37-55.

“Chinese Associations in Canada, 1923-1947.” In Victor Ujimoto and Gordon Hirabayashi, eds., Visible Minorities and Multiculturalism: Asians in Canada, 23-31. Toronto: Butterworths, 1980.

“Continuities in Land Tenure, 1900-1940.” In Emily Ahern and Hill Gates, eds., The Anthropology of Taiwanese Society, 212-38. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1981.

“Another Look at Land and Lineage in the New Territories, CA. 1900” Journal of the Hong Kong Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 21 (1981), 25-42.

“Chinese Organizations and the Canadian Political Process: Two Case Studies.” In Jorgen Dahlie and Tissa Fernando, eds., Ethnicity, Power and Politics in Canada, 172-76. Toronto: Methuen, 1981.

From China to Canada: A History of the Chinese Communities in Canada. With Harry Con et al. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Limited, 1982.

“Qing (Ch’ing) Land Tenure in South China, 1644-1912.” Chugoku kindaishi kenkyu 4 (1984), 111-20.

“Chinese Organizations and Ethnicity in Southeast Asia and North America since 1945: A Comparative Analysis.” In Jennifer Cushman and Wang Gungwu, eds., Changing Identities of the Southeast Asian Chinese since World War II, 303-18. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1988.

“Some Comparative Perspectives on Contemporary Chinese Ethnicity in the Philippines.” Asian Culture 14 (1990), 23-37.

“Notes on Some Contemporary Social Organizations in Manila Chinese Society.” In Aileen S.P. Baviere and Teresita Ang See, eds., China, Across the Seas: The Chinese as Filipinos, 43-66. Quezon City: Philippine Association for Chinese Studies, 1992.

“Overseas Chinese Adaptive Organizations, Past and Present.” In Ronald Skeldon ed., Reluctant Exiles? Migration from Hong Kong and the New Overseas Chinese, 69-84. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1994.

“Anti-Semitism and Chinese Identity Options in the Philippines.” In Daniel Chirot and Anthony Reid, eds., Essential outsiders: Chinese and Jews in the Modern Transformation of Southeast Asia and Central Europe, 153-83. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1997.

“Overseas Chinese Organizations” and “Relations with Non-Chinese.” In Lynn Pan, ed., The Encyclopedia of the Chinese Overseas, 83-91, 114-21. Singapore: Chinese Heritage Centre, 1998.

“Localism and the Organization of Overseas Migration in the Nineteenth Century.” In Gary Hamilton, ed., Cosmopolitan Capitalists: Hong Kong and the Chinese Diaspora at the End of the Twentieth Century, 35-55. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999.

“Overseas Chinese: The State of the Field.” Chinese America: History and Perspectives (2002), 1-8.

“The New Chinese Canadian Historical Society of British Columbia.” Chinese America:
History and Perspectives
(2007), 215-218.

“Global Chinese Migrants and Performing Chineseness.” Journal of Chinese Overseas, 3.2 (2007), 177-93.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Model Scholar and Mentor

I've known Edgar Wickberg since the late 1980s, first through his work and later on as a mentor and friend. Being a Filipino of ethnic Chinese background I've always been interested in the history of the Chinese in the Philippines, and Ed's work, along with those of Chinben See and Teresita Ang See, provided me initially with the tools and knowledge to understand this history. As everyone knows, Ed's The Chinese in Philippine Life ([1965]2000) remains the most influential book in the field, and its relevance encompasses and extends to not only the field of Chinese Diasporic Studies but also Philippine Studies in general. With so much insight and details into the Chinese community in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial period, his pioneering work laid (and continues to do so) the foundation for future works to study and understand contemporary ethnic relations between the Chinese and the Filipinos.

It was at the
Kaisa office, when it was still in Binondo, that I first met him. Teresita Ang See introduced us. I could not remember exactly what I said to him then, but I do recall standing before him feeling in awe, for there I stood face-to-face with the man whose work I admired so much. I was a "nobody" then, since I was just about to leave for the United States to begin my graduate work. However, despite his reputation as a well-known scholar, he did not exude any air of aloofness or snobbery. Instead, what I remembered was his kind face and friendly smile, and he encouraged me to get in touch with him when in the U.S. So throughout those years of my finishing my degree and writing my dissertation, publishing my first articles, landing my first job, and writing my first book, he and I kept in touch. All throughout these times, Ed had been a guiding light and inspiration. He never hesitated to provide me with feedback whenever I sent him my works to read, and even when we sometimes differed in our ideas and perspectives on certain historical questions or issues, Ed remained open and generous with his time, knowledge, and energy.

Welcoming of new ideas and paradigms, even if these may contradict or challenge one's own; supportive of younger scholars like me; a man with wide intellectual breadth and knowledge, exacting as a scholar but also generous in sharing his knowledge—these are the reasons why Ed is my role model. His works taught me so much about what I needed to know to be a historian, but his words and actions taught me how to be a true gentleman-scholar.

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