Shuman LIU

B.A. in Sociology, Wuhan University, 2014
Home town: Wuhan, China
Email: shuman.liu.cn ‘at’ gmail.com

I finished my fieldwork in summer, and now are in the stage of thesis writing. My research is basically about a phenomenon in mainland China; that every year roughly since 2010, thousands of people–from all over China, at all ages, with all kinds of socioeconomic standing, travel to Chengdu to start a grand cycling journey to Lhasa. The route is about 2160 kilometers long, and in average cyclists spend a month to finish the journey. Such a phenomenon arouses my curiosity; what kind of person would undertake the journey? Why do they do this time-consuming, physically-demanding and potentially dangerous deed? And what does this phenomenon tell us about contemporary China? I will not offer any answer here as I’m still analyzing my data, but people are more than welcome to discuss their thoughts on the topic with me.

To quote from a great anthropologist, “all humans are born with the potential to live thousands of lives, yet we end up having lived only one.” This sentence is of tremendous wisdom, it points out the diversity of human lives, but also acknowledges the fact that people are tend to be restricted in only one mode of living. I think studying anthropology gives us the precise chance to break away with a single life–by reading and studying other cultures and peoples, we are able to realize the relativity of our own lives and a further understanding of humanity is reached only after this reflection.

The concrete effect of studying anthropology is that it makes me become a braver person, I guess it’s also related with my specific research topic. But I believe all anthropologists are fearless in a way, after all to do research they have to start a new life in an often completely unfamiliar environment.

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