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Cultural anthropologist, taught 24 years in the Department of Anthropology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Now Research Associate, Dept. of Anthropology, Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, USA.
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PhD, Columbia University in the City of New York, Dept. of Anthropology, 1989

M.Phil. Columbia University, Department of Anthropology, 1984.

M.A. Columbia University, Department of Anthropology, 1982.

B.S. in Biology, with Concentration in Anthropology, University of Notre Dame, 1980.

Awards & Fellowships
Awards & Fellowships
Hong Kong Research Grants Council GRF Grant, "Pesticides and Pollution: Sustainable Agricultural and the Risks of Development in Taiwan." 2014-2016.

This research, based on over eight months of fieldwork in Pingtung, Taiwan, focuses on the risk of pesticides from villagers’ point of view (both farmers and non-farming consumers), as well as from the point of view of government officials and of scientists. What factors shape farmers’, consumers’, officials’, and scientists’ views of what the dangers are and what the problem is today? What are the different types of farmers (“traditional” pesticide-using and new organic farmers) doing to mitigate the risks from pesticides? A goal of this research is to better understand why some farmers apparently do not follow the public standards for pesticide use. Scientists have developed standards for how and when pesticides should be spread to create negligible risk to humans. But many consumers doubt that pesticides are being used properly, and many doubt that pesticides are safe even at very low concentrations. The goal is to understand how culturally shaped ideas of risk affect pesticide use, misuse, and avoidance (through organic farming).

2013 Exemplary Teaching Award in General Education, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong Research Grants Council GRF Grant, "Selling Soap to China: Global Consumerism and the Sources of Desire, 2001-04.

2017. "The View from Hong Kong Anthropology." Asian Anthropology 16(1)


2016. “The Sacred in Urban Political Protests in Hong Kong.” International Sociology 31(4) 375-395. (Selected as one of six “Outstanding Papers in Hong Kong Studies for 2015/16” by the Academy of Hong Kong Studies, Hong Kong Education University, January 2017.)


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 Economic 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, Inoue, Huang Yun, Konino, 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 the Outstanding Author Contribution Award Winner at the Literati Network Awards for Excellence 2010).


2009 “SEAA 人类学词汇维基词典的简介 (Introduction to the SEAA Online Dictionary of Keywords in Anthropology).” 西北民族研究 Northwest Journal of Ethnology No. 63, pp. 102-105.

2007 “Young People's Ghost Stories in Hong Kong.” The Journal of Popular Culture 40(5):785-807.

[pdf] [bibtex] 

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.

2003 “The Supernatural in Hong Kong Young People's Ghost Stories. “ Anthropological Forum 13(2):141-149. 


2003 “天后宮之重建與活力—台灣與香港比較研究 (The rebuilding and vitality of Tianhou Temples: A Taiwan and Hong Kong Comparison).” In 媽祖信仰的發展與變遷 (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 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.


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.”  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 “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.


Which Joseph Bosco is this?
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 peoplescould 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.)  Articles in 2010 included 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. You can find his webpage here.

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 ;) to avoid confusion!

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