Congratulations to the Anthropology Department's Zachary Howlett on being selected for a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies in the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.
Zach’s research examines the ideology of meritocracy in China and beyond. His current project focuses on China’s National College Entrance Exam (Gaokao). He analyzes the Gaokao as a cultural continuation of China’s imperial-era civil-service exams (~960–1905 CE), which influenced the European Enlightenment and European colonizers. His work compares the Gaokao to examination competition in other countries as well as to cross-culturally analogous “fateful trials of merit,” including elections, trials, warfare, high-stakes market transactions, and competitive forms of gift exchange such as kula and potlatch.
At the Harvard Academy, he intends to complete his first book, provisionally titled Meritocracy and Its Discontents: Rural Rebellion, Middle-Class Flight, and the National College Entrance Examination in Post-Mao China.