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Educational qualification Ph.D. with distinction, Columbia University, Department of Anthropology.
M.Phil. Columbia University, Department of Anthropology.
M.A. Columbia University, Department of Anthropology. Member of the Joint Program in Applied Anthropology with Teachers College.
B.S. with honors. University of Notre Dame. Major: Biology, and Concentration in Anthropology.


Prof. Joseph Bosco majored in Biology and Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame and received his postgraduate degrees (MA, MPhil and PhD) at Columbia University in the City of New York. His first fieldwork was a summer MA project on deforestation in Panama. His PhD research examined cultural aspects of Taiwan’s rapid industrialization, focusing on the role of family businesses in rural development. He has also done research on Chinese popular religion, particularly on temples of the goddess Tianhou (also known as Mazu and Tin Hau). He has done research on rugby in Hong Kong, and studied the rise of consumerism in South China by focusing on the rapid adoption of the use of shampoo. He is currently researching the use, misuse, and fear of pesticides in Taiwan, focusing on how farmers and consumers deal with the uncertainty of science, the risk of poisoning, and the difficulties with organic farming. He has also led work on an online Wiki English-Chinese dictionary of Anthropology. Prof. Bosco teaches a popular course entitled “Magic, Myth and the Supernatural” that examines the cultural creation of reality in phenomena such as ghosts, witchcraft, and UFOs.

Research interests

Political economy, economic culture, peasant societies, political anthropology, economic development, consumerism and the environment, religious movements

Geographical areas of research

Taiwan, Mainland China, Latin America, Mediterranean Europe

Current research

Pesticides and Pollution: Sustainable Agriculture and the Risks of Development in Taiwan (GRF Grant 2014-2016)

“Selling Shampoo to China: Global Consumerism and the Sources of Desire.” (book ms)

The 2012 Child-abduction Rumors in Hong Kong (article)

Magic, Myth and the Supernatural (book ms)

The Hong Kong Rugby Sevens: Sport, Business and Globalization (article)

New Asia College Graduation Photo Day video and wiki ethnography (click here for higher resolution version video).

SEAA English-Chinese-English Dictionary of Keywords in Anthropology


SCGE Exemplary Teaching Award in General Education 2013–2014

Other positions held

Editorial board memberships

Member, Editorial Board, American Anthropologist, 2012 to present.

Member, Editorial Board, Revista Nuevas Tendencias en Antropología

Member, Editorial Board, Asian Anthropology, 2002 to present.

Member, Series Editorial Board, “Asian Anthropologies” Series, Berghahn Books, Oct. 2005 to present.

Member, Board of Directors, AFS Intercultural Exchanges Hong Kong, Oct. 2006 to present, and Vice-Chair, April 2012 to present.

Member, Board of Directors, Rehabaid Society (HK) Jan. 2007 to present.


Co-Chair, AFS Hong Kong (Intercultural Exchanges) (2015–2016)

Selected Publications
2004 Making Anthropology in East and Southeast Asia Shinji Yamashita, Joseph Bosco, and Jerry Eades, eds. Oxford: Berghan Books.
1999 屏東縣萬丹鄉萬惠宮 (The Wanhui Temple of Wandan Township, Pingdong County [Taiwan]).  Pingdong: Pingdong Cultural Center.  (Bilingual)
1999 Temples of the Empress of Heaven (with Puay Peng Ho). Images of Asia Series.  Hong Kong: Oxford University Press.
Book chapters and journal articles
2016 The Sacred in Urban Political Protests in Hong Kong.” International Sociology doi:10.1177/0268580916645767.
2015 “Urban Processions: Colonial Decline and Revival as Heritage in Postcolonial Hong Kong.” In Peter van der Veer, ed.,Handbook of Religion and the Asian City: Aspiration and Urbanization in the Twenty-first Century, pp. 110-130. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
2015 Chinese Popular Religion and Hong Kong Identity“. Asian Anthropology 14(1): 8-20.
2014 The Problem of Greed in Anthropology: Sumptuary Laws and New Consumerism in China.” Economic Anthropology 1: 167-185.
2013 The Hong Kong Ocean Park Kidnapping Rumor.” Ethnology 50(2):135-151.
2012 The Formula as a Managerial Tool: Audit Culture in Hong Kong“. Journal of Workplace Rights 16(3-4) 383-403.
2010 “The Problem with Relativism in the Comparative Study of Religion.” In Aspects of Transformation through Cultural Interaction, (bilingual publication in English and Japanese), edited by Shinohara Hirokata, Inoue Mituyuki, Huang Yun, Hino Yoshihiro, and Sun Qing, pp. 3-49. Osaka, Japan: Institute for Cultural Interaction Studies, Kansai University.
2009 Underground Lotteries in China: The Occult Economy and Capitalist Culture” (with Lucia Huwy-Min Liu and Matthew West). In Research in Economic Anthropology: Economic Development, Integration, and Morality in Asia and the Americas, No. 29, Donald C. Wood, ed. Emerald Publishing. (Winner of Outstanding Author Contribution Award Winner at the Emerals Literati Network Awards for Excellence 2010).
2009 SEAA 人类学词汇维基辞典的简介”.  西北民族研究 第63期:102-105.
2007 Young People’s Ghost Stories in Hong Kong”.  In The Journal of Popular Culture 40(5):785-807.
2004 “Asian Anthropologies: Foreign, Native and Indigenous” (with Shinji Yamashita and J.S. Eades).  In Making Anthropology in East and Southeast Asia Shinji Yamashita, Joseph Bosco, and Jerry Eades, eds. Oxford: Berghan Books, p. 1-34.
2004 “Local Theories and Sinicization in the Anthropology of Taiwan.” In Making Anthropology in East and Southeast Asia Shinji Yamashita, Joseph Bosco, and Jerry Eades, eds. Oxford: Berghan Books, pp. 208-252.
2004 “Anthropological Fieldwork in the 1980s: The Final Years of Martial Law.”  Issues & Studies 40(3-4): 428-439.
2004 “Hong Kong.”  In Encyclopedia of Diasporas: Immigrant and Refugee Cultures Around the World, Melvin Ember, Carol R. Ember, and Ian Skoggard, eds.  NY: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, pp. 506-514.
2004 “Longer Contemplation.” In New Reflections on Anthropological Studies of (greater) China, ed. Xin Liu. Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, pp. 71-77.
2003 “The Supernatural in Hong Kong Young People’s Ghost Stories.” Anthropological Forum 13(2):141-149.
2003 “Tianhou gong zhi chongjian yu huoli: Taiwan yu Xianggang bijiao yanjiu (The rebuilding and vitality of Tianhou Temples: A Taiwan and Hong Kong Comparison).”  In Mazu xinyang de fazhan yu bianqian (Mazu Belief and Modern Society). Lin Meirong, Chang Hsun and Tsai Hsiang-hui, eds.  Taipei: Taiwan Association for Religious Studies and Beigang Chaotian Gong.pp. 95-116.
2001 “The McDonald’s Snoopy Craze in Hong Kong” in Gordon Mathews and Lui Tai-lok, eds. Consuming Hong Kong, pp. 263-285. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.
2001 “Hong Kong.”  In Ember, Melvin and Carol R. Ember, eds. Countries and Their Cultures Volume 2, pp. 991-1000. New York: Macmillan Reference USA.
2001 The Tianhou Temple Ritual and Architecture (CD-ROM) (with Puay Peng Ho).  Published by the Depts. of Architecture and Anthropology, Chinese University, and distributed by The Chinese University Press.
1999 “An Anthropological View of the Hong Kong McDonald’s Snoopy Craze.”  Hong Kong Anthropologist, No. 12: 23-30.
1998 “Anthropology among the natives: the indigenization of Chinese anthropology.”  In Sidney C.H. Cheung, ed. On the South China Track: Perspectives on Anthropological Research and Teaching.  Hong Kong: Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, pp. 23-44.
1997– 2000 Co-Editor (with Grant Evans) Hong Kong Anthropologist (no. 10, 11, 12, 13).
1996 “Pagers and Culture in Hong Kong.”  The Hong Kong Anthropologist No. 9, pp. 16-23.
1996 “Taiwan jiating qiye de wenhua quanshi [On Cultural Explanations for the Development of Family Factories in Taiwan].”  (In Chinese) Zhongguo shehui kexue jikan (Chinese Social Sciences Quarterly) vol. 14 (April).
1995 Editor, Taiwan Studies: A Journal of Translation, issue on “Land Issues in Taiwan History” edited by Joseph Bosco and Chiu-kun Chen (vol. 1 no. 1), published by M.E. Sharpe, Armonk NY.
1995 co-editor (with Mau-kuei Michael Chang) of vol. 1 no. 2 of  Taiwan Studies: A Journal of Translation, issue on “Ethnic Relations and National Identities.”
1995 “Better the Head of a Chicken than the Tail of an Ox: On Cultural Explanations for the Development of Family Factories in Taiwan.”  Taiwan Studies Workshop, Fairbank Center Working Paper No. 12, Harvard University.
1994 “Taiwan Businessmen Across the Straits: Socio-Cultural Dimensions of the Cross-straits Relationship.”  Working Paper No. 1, Department of Anthropology, Chinese University of Hong Kong.
1994 “Faction versus Ideology: Mobilization Strategies in Taiwan’s Elections.”  China Quarterly 137: 28-62.
1994 “Yiguan Dao: ‘Heterodoxy’ and Popular Religion in Taiwan.”  In Murray A. Rubinstein, ed., The Other Taiwan, 1945 to the Present.  Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, Inc., pp. 423-444.
1992 “The Emergence of a Taiwanese Popular Culture.”  In American Journal of Chinese Studies 1(1):51-64.  Reprinted in Murray A. Rubinstein, ed., 1994, The Other Taiwan, 1945 to the Present.  Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, Inc.. pp. 392-403.
1992 “The Effects of Land Reform on the Political Economy of Wandan Township.”  Land Issues in Taiwan History.  Chiu K. Chen and Hsueh-chi Hsu, eds.  Taiwan History Field Research Office, Academia Sinica, Taiwan.
1992 “Research Note: The Role of Culture in Taiwanese Family Enterprises.”  Chinese Business History 3(1):1-4.
1992 “Taiwan Factions: Guanxi, Patronage, and the State in Local Politics.”  Ethnology 31(2):157-183.  Reprinted in Murray A. Rubinstein, ed., 1994, The Other Taiwan, 1945 to the Present.  Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, Inc.. pp. 114-144.
1992 Approaches to Teaching About Taiwan (background booklet for social science teachers).  Published by the East Asian Curriculum Project, Columbia University.  Also wrote sections on “Family,” “Social Relations,” and “Taiwan” for China: A Teaching Workbook.
Which Joseph Bosco is this?

To my utter shock, after I had been studying anthropology and Chinese and moved to Hong Kong to teach, two other Joseph Boscos emerged who also, as improbable as it seems, were interested in Taiwan and China. (There are still other Joe Boscos, but let’s not go there…) One is a lawyer who worked for former Massachusetts Governor John Volpe, then went to Washington as Volpe’s special assistant when he was named Secretary of Transportation by President Nixon. That Joe Bosco has also been a professor at Georgetown and is a national security consultant. His full name is Joseph A. Bosco (I don’t have a middle name or initial). He wrote a few opinion pieces that led some friends to wonder what had happened to “me”; here is a Washington Post Op-Ed from 2001, and a Taipei Times column that argued against China’s legal claims to be able to use force to unite Taiwan with the mainland. He argued for the containment of China, and for pressing China on issues of US interest, thus taking a politically conservative or hawkish point of view. Here is a more recent opinion piece in the LA Times that argues the US should end the policy of ‘strategic ambiguity’ and make clear that it would protect Taiwan from attack, and in return Taiwan should agree to “forgo formal independence for now.” He also makes a point that I tend to agree with, which is that “Two democratic peoples could peacefully manage the question of unification, independence or association.” (Still, much work would need to be done to convince Beijing that this policy is not designed to stealthily promote Taiwan independence.) More recent (2010) articles include one in the Washington Times on the need to contain China’s growing threat and a call in the Christian Science Monitor for Obama to call a summit of Nobel Peace Prize winners to protest China’s jailing of Liu Xiabo.

The other Joseph Bosco (who like the Georgetown lawyer also had the middle initial “A”, but did not use it) was a journalist and the author of a book on the OJ Simpson trial. I only had occasion to meet him once in November 2006 before he died at a relatively young 61 years of age in July 2010 (see his LA Times obituary here). He had his fans, but seemed to have some enemies (see this blog and this LA Times Boyarsky column). He was very nice in person when we met, but seemed sometimes pugnacious in his blogs, other times regretful about unspecified choices in his life. In 2002, he took a job teaching English in Fujian, and the next year moved to Beijing where he was Visiting Professor of Journalism at the Beijing Foreign Studies University. During his time in Fujian, the journalist Joseph Bosco developed strong opinions on the Taiwan issue, though unfortunately (for posterity, but fortunately in other ways), his blog entries are no longer on the web.  The journalist Joseph Bosco viewed himself as a liberal, but since he had never been in Taiwan, he viewed the issue exclusively through PRC eyes.  He dismissed and disparaged Taiwanese claims for independence, noting that the PRC will never accept an independent Taiwan. He wrote so glowingly of the PRC that he attracted the attention of the right wing press (see this Newsmax article for a right-wing attack on JB).  The glowing piece on China was actually an attack on the other Joseph Bosco, so I felt caught in battle of Joseph Boscos!

Needless to say, I am not them. The Library of Congress knows me as Bosco, Joseph, 1957- since I don’t have a middle name. I considered taking a middle name or initial, but a librarian told me that would be even more confusing. So there we are. Bosco is not a common surname in Italy; this site will show you, however, that the name is not rare and is spread throughout Italy (for the record, my Bosco ancestors are from Vasto, in the Abruzzi, and 3 generations before that arrived in Vasto from the Marche according to family tradition, but from Puglia further south according to government records).  Joseph, or Giuseppe, is probably the most common male given name in Italy; San Giuseppe, on 19 March, was once a national holiday. So that is why there are 3 of us. But it is still quite some coincidence that there are 3 Joseph Boscos (Boschi?) who have written about Taiwan and China.I am also known by my Chinese name LIN Zhou (林舟). Lin is a common surname and means forest (which is what Bosco means in Italian).  Zhou sounds like “Joe.”  I hope any other Joseph Boscos take different Chinese names (at least a different character, like周or 州or even 粥 J) to avoid confusion!

Personal interests

AFS Hong Kong (Intercultural Exchanges)

Rehabaid Society

Blog: Anthropological Fragments

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