The Academic Enculturation of Chinese Archaeologists

A Study of Disciplinary Texts, Practices and Identities

by Meng Ge (Author)
©2022 Monographs XXII, 286 Pages


In the past few decades, sustained and overwhelming research attention has been given to EAL (English as an Additional Language) scholars’ English writing and publishing. While this line of research has shed important light on the scene of global knowledge production and dissemination, it tends to overlook the less Anglicized and more locally bound disciplines located at the academic periphery. This book aimed to fill the gap by examining the academic enculturation experiences of Chinese archaeologists through the lens of their disciplinary writing.
Consisting of a situated genre analysis and a multi-case study, the textographic study disclosed the immense complexity of archaeologists’ texts, practices and identities. Important implications were generated for writing researchers and teachers as well as archaeologists and other HSS (the humanities and social sciences) scholars. This book would make a valuable reading for researchers and students of disciplinary/academic writing, second language writing and literacy studies.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the Author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • List of Abbreviations
  • Acknowledgments
  • Preface
  • 1 Introduction
  • Background of the Study
  • Archaeology, Chinese Archaeology, Archaeological Writing and Practices
  • Orientation, General Design, and Significance of the Study
  • Layout of the Book
  • 2 Academic Enculturation Through the Lens of Genre
  • Academic Enculturation
  • Genre Theory
  • Academic Enculturation Through the Lens of Genre
  • 3 Aspects of the Enculturation of Academics
  • Disciplinarity and Academic/Disciplinary Genres
  • Academics and Research Writing
  • Academics and Non-Scholarly Writing
  • EAL Academics’ English Writing and Publishing
  • Research Gaps and Emergent Issues
  • 4 A Textographic Research Design
  • Research Design: A Textography
  • Research Site: Institute of Archaeology (IA)
  • Procedures and Methods of the Research
  • Trustworthiness and Ethical Issues
  • 5 Primary Genres and Disciplinarity of Chinese Archaeology
  • A Diachronic Analysis of the Genre Repertoire of Kaogu
  • A Synchronic Comparison of the PFR and RA Genres
  • Chapter Summary
  • 6 Writing Research Articles in Chinese Archaeology
  • Perceptions of the Writing of Research Articles
  • Essential Qualities of Good Research Articles
  • Difficulties and Constraints Experienced in Writing Good Research Articles
  • Chapter Summary
  • 7 Constructing Knowledge Across Public and Academic Spaces
  • The Case of XIAO: A Newspaper Article and a Research Article
  • The Case of LI: A Newspaper Article and a Research Article
  • The Case of AN: A Research Article and a Popular Book
  • Chapter Summary
  • 8 Transforming Knowledge Between Chinese and English
  • Motivations and Goals Behind the Transformation Efforts
  • Knowledge Transformation Between Chinese and English
  • Participants’ Perceptions of Their Experiences
  • Chapter Summary
  • 9 Re-Examining the Academic Enculturation of Chinese Archaeologists
  • Archaeologists’ Enculturation at the Level of Texts and Practices
  • Archaeologists’ Enculturation at the Level of Individual Academics
  • Archaeologists’ Enculturation at the Level of Professions and Disciplines
  • 10 Conclusion
  • Recapitulation of the Study
  • Contributions and Implications
  • Limitations and Caveats
  • Future Research
  • Appendices
  • Appendix A: Basic Information of Interview Participants (Preliminary Stage)
  • Appendix B: Key Interview Questions (Preliminary Stage)
  • Appendix C: PFRs and RAs Sampled for Situated Genre Analysis
  • Appendix D: Key Interview Questions Used in Multi-Case Study
  • Index

←x | xi→

List of Tables

Table 4.1 Basic Information of the Specialist Informants

Table 4.2 Basic Information of the Focal Participants

Table 4.3 SUN’s Major Publications (2001‒2015)

Table 4.4 Data Collected for SUN’s Case

Table 4.5 LI’s Major Publications (2001‒2015)

Table 4.6 Data Collected for LI’s Case

Table 4.7 AN’s Major Publications (1992‒2015)

Table 4.8 Data Collected for AN’s Case

Table 4.9 ZHU’s Major Publications (1999‒2015)

Table 4.10 Data Collected for ZHU’s Case

Table 4.11 XIAO’s Major Publications (1984‒2015)

Table 4.12 Data Collected for XIAO’s Case

Table 4.13 LAN’s Major Publications (2012‒2015)

Table 4.14 Data Collected for LAN’s Case

Table 4.15 The Chain of Texts Related to LI’s Representative RA

Table 4.16 Organizational Categories, Research Questions, and Data Classification

Table 5.1 The Changing Genre Repertoire of Kaogu (1955‒2014)

Table 5.2 Overall Organizations of Sampled Texts

←xi | xii→Table 5.3 Word Counts of Different Sections of Sampled Texts

Table 5.4 Organizational Structures of Sampled PFRs

Table 5.5 Organizational Structures of Sampled RAs

Table 5.6 Devices Used to Signal Authorial Presence in Sampled Texts

Table 5.7 Frequencies of Self-Mention in Sampled Texts

Table 5.8 Distributions of Self-Mention Devices in Sampled PFRs

Table 5.9 Distributions of Self-Mention Devices in Sampled RAs

Table 5.10 Different Roles Assumed by Archaeologists in Sampled Texts

Table 5.11 Numbers and Densities of Citation Use in Sampled Texts

Table 5.12 Types of Sources Cited in Sampled Texts

Table 5.13 Distributions of Citations in Sampled Texts

Table 5.14 Numbers and Types of Non-Textual Elements in Sampled Texts

Table 5.15 Distributions of Non-Textual Elements in Sampled Texts

Table 5.16 The Integrated Use of Textual and Non-Textual Elements for Data Presentation in Sampled PFRs (1)

Table 5.17 The Integrated Use of Textual and Non-Textual Elements for Data Presentation in Sampled PFRs (2)

Table 6.1 A Breakdown of the References Cited in LI’s Focal RA

Table 6.2 The Changing Interpretation of the Inscription in LAN’s Focal RA

Table 6.3 Research Actions Staged in SUN’s Focal RA

Table 7.1 Move Structures of the Introductions of XIAO’s Two Articles

Table 7.2 Organizational Structures of XIAO’s Two Articles

Table 7.3 Hedges Used in the Discussion Sections of XIAO’s Two Articles

Table 7.4 Concluding Remarks of XIAO’s Two Articles

Table 7.5 Titles and Introductions of LI’s Two Articles

Table 7.6 Organizational Structures of LI’s Two Articles

Table 7.7 Presentations of the Same Artifact [X]‌ in LI’s Two Articles

Table 7.8 Concluding Remarks in LI’s Two Articles

Table 7.9 The Section Shared by the Introductions of AN’s Two Texts

Table 7.10 Beginnings of the Main Body Sections of AN’s Two Texts

Table 7.11 Organizational Structures of AN’s Two Texts

Table 7.12 The Use of Explanatory Notes in AN’s Popular Book

Table 7.13 The Use of Re-Phrasing in AN’s Two Texts

Table 7.14 A Breakdown of the Sources Cited in AN’s Two Texts

←xii | xiii→Table 7.15 The Section Shared by the Concluding Remarks of AN’s Two Texts

Table 8.1 Organizational Structure of ZHU’s English RA

Table 8.2 Simplification of Specific Information Across ZHU’s Texts

Table 8.3 Email Communication Between ZHU and JIA (1)

Table 8.4 Email Communication Between ZHU and JIA (2)

Table 8.5 The Changing Manuscript of ZHU’s English RA (Example 8.2)

Table 8.6 The Changing Manuscript of ZHU’s English RA (Example 8.3)

Table 8.7 Reviewers’ Comments on XIAO and KING’s Initial Submission

Table 8.8 The Changing Organizational Structure of XIAO and KING’s English RA

Table 8.9 The Changing Explanatory Information in XIAO and KING’s English RA

Table 8.10 Numbers and Types of References Contributed by XIAO and KING to the English RA

Table 8.11 The Increasing Use of Non-Textual Elements in XIAO and KING’s English RA

Table 8.12 Deletions and Adjustments Made by AN When Translating the English RA

Table 8.13 Reviewer’s Comments on AN and CHANG’s Chinese Submission

Table 8.14 The Changing Manuscript of AN and CHANG’s Chinese RA

←0 | 1→


The author is grateful for permission to reprint the following copyright materials:

Line drawings and photos of stone axes in Chapter 5 used with permission from Liaoning Institute of Cultural Heritage and Archaeology

Drawing and photo of tomb in Chapter 5 used with permission from Anhui Institute of Cultural Heritage and Archaeology


I was brought up in a so-called intellectual family with both of my parents graduating from top universities in Mainland China in the 1960s and then spending their whole professional lives in the danwei (work unit) assigned by the state. I can now still vaguely recall my childhood experience where my father took me to his danwei to stay with him for day care, and how I was curious about the “significant enterprise” all the grown-ups around were busy with. It was not until much later that I came to realize that his workplace, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), is where some of the most prestigious intellectuals of their fields, nationally or internationally, had worked and have been working; and that CASS is one of the major forces that have shaped and are shaping Chinese academia. This experience has cultivated in me an interest in the lives and work of humanities and social sciences (HSS) scholars.

My family environment being such, anecdotes about academics from various HSS disciplines are always in the air, and those about archaeologists are particularly amusing and thought-provoking: A reputable archaeologist in his eighties was given the nickname “the tomb-robbing old chap” in the apartment building where he resided in, not without fondness and curiosity (and probably out of a general misunderstanding about the nature of the profession as well). A female archaeologist, who had spent the better part of her career life in the field, could ←xix | xx→not stand being away from it after retirement and went back to work at excavation sites whenever possible. Her writings can still be found in academic journals and popular newspapers and magazines every now and then.

These anecdotes are fun; but in the end, they also make me wonder: Behind all the stories, who are these academics? What are their lives and work like? How do they produce knowledge? How do they exert their influence and how have they and their research been influenced by others and other factors? … All these questions have no easy answers and can be approached from multiple perspectives; yet writing is undoubtedly one of the most interesting perspectives to take as, after all, academics spend so much of their time writing, thinking about writing, pondering and agonizing over writing.

A search in the literature for research on mainland Chinese HSS academics’ scholarly writing or disciplinary writing would yield a large number of bibliometric studies on their research outputs that are examined quantitatively, some discussion papers on the research policies and evaluation systems implemented in these disciplines, and a smaller number of studies focusing on the English writing and publishing of these scholars; but other than that, the type of research that is grounded in but goes beyond their texts to disclose their “lifeways” and “textways” (Swales, 1998) is largely absent. While traditionally, writing was naturally and habitually seen as linguistic artifacts or mental processes, the view seeing it as social practice that involves identity (re)construction and discipline (re)formation is still relatively new, and has seldom been applied in writing research in the context of Mainland China. When the same batch of questions abovementioned are asked in the context of global knowledge production and dissemination, it also becomes clear that academics from smaller HSS disciplines in non-Anglophone countries and regions, as represented by Chinese archaeologists, are severely under-represented in the research literature in terms of their literate lives and professional commitments, who would otherwise provide valuable data for international writing research. The study reported in this book was thus, at the outset, formulated to address these questions and to fill these research gaps.

As a monograph focusing on the disciplinary writing of professional academics, this book was written by a novice EAL writer who had groped her way through the long and winding journey commonly known as “academic writing”. Throughout the process of writing and revision, the issue of “voice” has been haunting me; that is, should I attune my voice in a way deemed to be authoritative enough for an academic book or keep it in line with my true “self as author” (Ivanič, 1998)? The solution is presented in this book—an authorial voice that ←xx | xxi→is being gradually developed in the ongoing process of “academic enculturation” (Prior & Bilbro, 2012).

This book was written with a number of audiences in mind. First, investigators in the areas of disciplinary writing, academic writing, and second language writing may find it enlightening and extending their understanding of global knowledge production at the academic periphery. Second, teacher-researchers could draw on this book and especially the pedagogical implications generated at the end in their teaching of disciplinary writing to students of archaeology and other HSS majors. Third, archaeologists as well as other HSS scholars working in periphery contexts, especially those in Mainland China, may find this book valuable in informing their writing practices. Last but not least, it is hoped that graduate students and novice EAL writers in the fields of writing research and literacy education could get some useful clues about research design and research writing from reading this book.


XXII, 286
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2022 (July)
The Academic Enculturation of Chinese Archaeologists: A Study of Disciplinary Texts, Practices and Identities Meng Ge academic enculturation the HSS disciplines Chinese archaeology Chinese archaeologists disciplinary writing New Rhetorical genre theory literate practices academic identities knowledge production textography EAL scholars’ writing and publishing academic periphery
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2022. XXII, 286 pp., 11 b/w ill., 65 tables.

Biographical notes

Meng Ge (Author)

Meng Ge received her PhD from the Faculty of Education, the University of Hong Kong, and is now working as a senior editor at Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, Beijing. Her research interests include disciplinary/academic writing, second language writing and literacy education.


Title: The Academic Enculturation of Chinese Archaeologists
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