Remembering Pochan Chen 陳伯楨

Photo by Harvard-Yenching Institute

Pochan Chen 陳伯楨

October 29, 1973 – June 28, 2015





Tributes to Pochan Chen from:

 the Harvard-Yenching Institute

the Society for East Asian Archaeology

 National Taiwan University



An Epitaph for Pochan
Lothar von Falkenhausen
July 18, 2015


No. No! No. It cannot be. Not Pochan. Pochan, in the midst of everything. So full of Lebensfreude. Did I not just have dinner with him and Kuei-chen in LA, back in April? He seemed--no, he was--completely normal. No inkling of any problem at all. He and Kuei-chen were so happy as a couple, obviously headed for marriage. And now--Pochan gone? Pochan, of all people, dead of heart failure? At 42? 41, to be exact? It cannot be. It must be a mistake. A cruel joke! I cannot accept it. I cannot imagine it.

Weeks after receiving the shocking news, I am still incredulous. Increasingly so, in fact, the more I try to wrap my mind around it. As I am facing the pragmatic need to “endure the unendurable, suffer the unsufferable” (taegataki wo tae, shinobigataki wo shinobi たえがたきをたえ、しのびがたきをしのび), immeasurable sadness is setting in. A kind of numbness, in which doing anything at all becomes an enormous effort. And yet, during this time his friends from all over the world have been posting memorial messages. I must add one of my own, especially since I won’t be able to attend Pochan’s funeral.

But what can I possibly write? Pochan’s death is an affront against the natural order of things. A student is not supposed to die before his teacher. My job as his ex-advisor is to write letters of recommendation for him--as many as needed, anytime. But not his obituary.

In any case, what follows would have no place in a l.o.r. Not that I long to vent my personal feelings--it is, rather, a matter of trying to put into words some of the reasons why, objectively, Pochan’s passing is such a momentous tragedy. Those who knew himknow this intuitively, of course. Moreover, as with any attempt to characterize a human being, no verbalization could ever be adequate. I myself am unused to expressing such things, and I feel considerable embarrassment trying. Still, some approximation must be found. Here I go:

POCHAN WAS PURE, UNADULTERATED GOODNESS. It may be a tired cliché, but it applies here: Pochan had a heart of gold. His mere presence would light up a room. He radiated good cheer. His gentle sense of humor, his well-developed gift as a storyteller, and his propensity for (harmless) pranks, made him an excellent companion. (Flashback: I still hear his laughter over the phone, back in 2000, after he, Rowan, and Zhang Zhongyun, in the field at Zhongba, had successfully pulled off the best April Fool’s Day joke ever: they had emailed me images of “the first-ever inscribed Eastern Zhou divination bone,” fresh out of the ground. In reality, of course, the very convincing-looking “inscription” had been concocted by Zhang Zhongyun! I happened to be with Professor Qiu Xigui 裘錫圭, who immediately proceeded to decipher it…)

POCHAN HAD SOME OF THE BEST “PEOPLE SKILLS” OF ANYONE I HAVE EVER KNOWN. Without in any way ceasing to be himself, he was able to relate to everyone. With children, he became a child; with youngsters, he was authentically one of them; with his peers, he was a supportive friend and a serious colleague; toward his elders he was respectful but never unctuous. He was an excellent team worker, unfailingly considerate of everybody’s needs. Selfless, yet never one to advertise his virtuousness. Modest sometimes to a fault, never seeking the limelight, but happy to sit back and to let others take the credit. (This may sometimes have hurt him professionally.)

POCHAN HAD TREMENDOUS PEDAGOGICAL GIFTS. To his students, he managed to be both a teacher and a friend--a feat that is rarely achieved, and often not even encouraged. But Pochan had no trouble to make sure that he was not only beloved and trusted, but respected and, when necessary, obeyed. With his contagious enthusiasm, he provided endless encouragement and motivation, making even the menial routines of archaeology appear to be fun. Yet whenever it mattered, he was deeply serious, fully concentrated and focused. He truly was what Mainland Chinese students are always exhorted to be: “earnest and lively” (yansu huopo 嚴肅活潑), and he was able to instill these qualities in those around him.

POCHAN WAS YOUNG AT HEART. Though focused on the ancient past in his work as an archaeologist, and in spite of being profoundly knowledgeable about traditional cultures, he was very much a participant in the life of our time. He was intensely clued in with popular culture and possessed an almost unrivaled expertise in such matters as Disney characters, Japanese cartoons, grunge fashion, underground rock music in all parts of Asia--even, I believe, cosplay. This engagement enhanced his imagination and intellectual creativity. It provided him with a set of metaphors that were useful in his teaching and in his work as a scholar.

BUT POCHAN WAS NO CHILD. He was, in fact, a profoundly wise person--a person of great maturity and with a well-developed internal “moral compass.” His training as an anthropologist helped him develop a sophisticated perspective on the world at large. He cared deeply about Taiwan and its politics, and thanks to his extensive network of friends in Mainland China, he became quite savvy about navigating the complexities of the “system” there. He was capable of strong emotions, and he would not withhold criticism when he felt it necessary. (Flashback: Quite early on in his time as a graduate student at UCLA, when--fortunately, in the midst of the summer vacation--a friend had dared me to dye my hair, Pochan let me know in no uncertain terms, quite angrily in fact, that he thought the result unbecoming. He was right, of course, and the experiment was never repeated.)

IN SHORT, POCHAN WAS ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO MADE THOSE WHO KNEW HIM GLAD TO BE ALIVE. More than most, he succeeded in living up to the ideal, which used to be (and may still be) inscribed on the walls of educational institutions in Taiwan, of growing up to be “the most lovable people in the world” (shijieshang zui ke’ai de ren 世界上最可愛的人). This is no exaggeration. Kuei-chen knows this best. She was going to be very happy with Pochan as her husband, and their children would have been very lucky to have them as their parents.


A proper obituary will no doubt be written by others more fully informed about the details of Pochan’s life and career. I merely wish to recall my own acquaintance with him. Given the nature of our relationship, this account inevitably will touch in part on professional matters.

I first learned of Pochan’s existence by reading his application to UCLA’s graduate program. The recommendation by my friend and senior fellow student Tsang Cheng-hwa 臧振華, for whom he had worked as an assistant, counted for a lot. But beyond this, the application, though by no means perfect, intimated a spark of genius--a certain je ne sais quoi--that convinced the Admissions Committee to admit him. I am now a little vague about when exactly we first met, but it must have been in the late summer or early fall of 1996, when he came to my UCLA office to introduce himself. I remember him being very nervous, struggling with English. He still had an English name then, which he quickly dropped; though he kept the non-standard spelling of his Chinese name, potentially amusing to pinyin aficionados, but easier to handle for non-Chinese speakers than the various possible philologically correct spellings.

Even though Pochan’s training in NTU’s Anthropology Department had been thorough and solid, many facets of how archaeology was practiced at UCLA were new to him, and it understandably took him some time to adjust. Also unfamiliar were American-style classroom dynamics, but Pochan, though understated at times, was by no means shy, and he soon held his own in seminar discussion. As with most students from abroad,the greatest challenge was to express himself fluently in written academic English. Over the years, we had a few tense moments about lingering insufficiencies on that account, but in the end, everything worked out well, and his dissertation exhibited no obvious flaws.

When Pochan came to UCLA, our Interdepartmental PhD Program in Archaeology was still able to accept foreign graduate students at the MA level. This was a boon to Pochan, for it allowed him an additional chunk of time to develop his scholarship before embarking on his work toward the PhD. As the topic for his Master’s thesis, Pochan chose the long-debated question of the dispersal of the ancient Austronesians, a topic in which he had developed an interest back in Taiwan. He took the opportunity to read and synthesize all the relevant literature, and he critically examined the methodological problems that arise when one combines archaeological and linguistic evidence. As a result, he was able to propose some alternatives to the scenarios for Austronesian language dispersal advanced in the earlier scholarship. Even though he never published it, the thesis stands as a solid contribution to the study of an important topic.

But Pochan was not intent on specializing in Taiwanese or Southeast Asian/Oceanic archaeology; nor would UCLA at that time have been an apporpriate place for this. It seems to me that in choosing his MA thesis topic, he wanted to put some sort of closure to the largely Taiwan-centered trajectory he had embarked on at NTU. Once he had got this “out of his system,” he felt free to explore new things. For the rest of his career, Mainland China became his principal area of interest.

It so happened that in 1999, just when Pochan was done with his coursework, UCLA launched its first collaborative archaeological project in Mainland China: “Landscape Archaeology and Ancient Salt Production in the Upper Yangzi River Basin.” Pochan became a core participant in that project, and he was one of two UCLA graduate students to write his PhD dissertation on its materials. After an initial month-long research trip in the spring of 1999, during which we investigated various ancient salt-producing locales in Sichuan and Chongqing, our team concentrated on fieldwork at the sprawling multi-period salt-producing site of Zhongba 中壩, located in the Ganjing River Valley, some 250 km downstream from Chongqing. For the next four years, Pochan would spend several months each year at Zhongba. Two seasons of excavations were followed by two long seasons of data processing and analysis. Data analysis continued at the laboratories of our collaborating institution, Peking University. Pochan spent the 2002-2003 academic year in China as a Peking University affiliate.

It is no exaggeration to say that the resounding success of our project was very largely due to Pochan’s diligence and dedication, as well as to his sensitive handling of relationships with our Mainland Chinese counterparts. Partly because of having brought along from Taiwan an old computer that needed frequent repairs, Pochan had become an expert in all things digital. This enabled him not only to set up complex databases for managing our finds, but also to play an important role in familiarizing our Mainland Chinese co-workers with the use of computers in archaeological fieldwork. The possibility of doing so was still a new idea at the time, but it quickly sank in. Even though Pochan was universally liked and appreciated by our Mainland counterparts, he had to put up with many inconveniences. At one point, for instance, he was unable to leave the Peking University campus for several months during the 2003 SARS scare. And although he never told me so directly, I gather that his long stints in the field took a toll on relationships in his personal life.

For his dissertation, Pochan early on determined to concentrate on ancient salt production and trade. Both on a factual and on a methodological level, the dissertation broke significant new ground. Salt production in China had been virtually unstudied by archaeologists until the Zhongba discoveries. Combining the study of brine-boiling ceramics with that of environmental and survey data, as well as incorporating relevant textual records, Pochan placed the millennial tradition of large-scale salt production at Zhongba within the larger socioeconomic and political context of Late Bronze Age China. He constructed a new model for the origins and development of this specialized industry in its local context. Of particular interest is his discussion of trade. The evidence from Zhongba suggested that both salt and salt-derived products were traded during pre-Imperial times--for the most part, presumably, to the salt-poor Chu region further downstream. Pochan constructed several alternative models for how this economic relationship might have worked, arguing--persuasively, I believe--that there was a “trade diaspora” of Chu salt merchants resident at an entrepôt at the mouth of the Ganjing valley. I have always greatly admired Pochan’s resourcefulness in applying diverse methods of analysis to our vast but somewhat recalcitrant body of field data from Zhongba.

During his years in graduate school, Pochan was lucky to have steadfast support from two sides. One was his family. UCLA was unable to offer him a full financial package, but his parents stepped in and generously covered the shortfall until Pochan was able to obtain intra- and extramural fellowship support for his dissertation research. At UCLA, his major source of support--both moral and intellectual--was his tongban tongxue 同班同學, Rowan. Theirs was a constellation that no one could have planned. Thrown together in the same small cohort, here were two unconventional individuals, both fundamentally decent, fun-loving, fair-minded, reliable, hard-working, intellectually ambitious, serious about bridging cultural boundaries, and capable of forging strong friendships. They became like brothers to each other; aptly, the Classicists at the Cotsen Institute nicknamed them hoi diaskouroi. Rowan and Pochan complemented each other’s strengths--English vs. Chinese, excavation technique vs. anthropological theory. Both at UCLA and in the field, they taught each other. As their advisor, all I needed to do was to sit back and smile, correct an occasional mistake (there were very few), and write the obligatory sheaves of ll.o.r.

They were essentially on their own at Zhongba, loosely supervised by our Chinese partners, sometimes with a Peking University graduate student working alongside.Every year I would join them for a month or less over the Christmas break, but I soon discovered that my presence was hardly necessary. From the depths of memory, recollections arise of many happy moments in the field: days spent in the excavation pit discussing the fine points of site stratigraphy; Old Mrs. Xiong’s 熊婆婆 lunches of freshly picked vegetables, spiced up with the local bean paste; taxi rides with Ms. Liu Furong 劉芙蓉, a. k. a. Fengzi 瘋子 (Madwoman); boozy dinners with local archaeologists (the booziest one, after which both Pochan and Rowan had had to be rushed to the local hospital, took place in my absence, and I officially do know that it ever happened); visits to our colleagues’ field sites up and down the Yangzi; convivial discussions with the American and European salt-archaeology specialists whom we had invited to Zhongba; site inspections by Professor Yu Weichao 俞偉超 and other famous Chinese archaeologists; forays into Chongqing to get equipment; Christmas parties at our hotel in Zhong Xian, which from year to year became ever more elaborate… It was an exhilarating time. It was also a time of very hard work, especially for Pochan.

Both Rowan and Pochan were fortunate in being able to find good academic positions immediately after finishing their PhDs--Rowan at Harvard, Pochan at NTU. They continued to go into the field together: first, jointly with their former UCLA fellow student Gwen Bennett, for an ambitious project of regional settlement survey at Pi Xian 郫縣 in the Chengdu Plain (Sichuan), and more recently in the Tao River 淘河 valley in southeastern Gansu. In 2010-11 Pochan spent a year at Harvard on a Harvard-Yenching Institute fellowship. During that time, he and Rowan put the finishing touches on their jointly authored monograph in English, Ancient Central China: Centers and Peripheries Along the Yangzi River, which was published by Cambridge University Press in 2013. Aside from that book, Pochan published several dozen articles in Chinese, mostly on topics related to his fieldwork, ranging from ancient salt production and trade to regional survey, world-systems theory, and the archaeology of Southwest China. He also got involved in public-archaeology projects, helping, for instance, to translate a Taiwanese children’s book about archaeology into English. I understand that his contribution to the report on the Pi Xian survey project is finished and in process of publication. I leave it to the official obituarists to compile a complete bibliography of Pochan’s works.

Pochan thrived at NTU, although he was worked very hard. Uncomplainingly, he shouldered a crushing course load, which I understand was considerably in excess of what was normal in his department. In addition to teaching the subjects he knew well--surveys of Mainland Chinese archaeology and courses on archaeological method and theory--he was asked to develop new courses on subjects far removed from his expertise, such as physical anthropology and conservation. Year after year, his vacations were cut short by his having to take charge of his Department’s training excavations. He was also entrusted with heavy administrative tasks in the University. It is a miracle that he managed to publish as much as he did. Yet, rather than being rewarded for his extraordinary service, he was in fact held back, and it was not until 2014 that he finally obtained his promotion to Associate Professor.

Over the course of the last decade or so, I was fortunate to see Pochan regularly. He came to stay at my house in LA a couple of times, and he visited me in Hong Kong when I was a visiting professor there in 2007. We also met frequently at conferences, in places as diverse as Daejeon, Weihai, Tübingen, Taipei, Beijing, Atlanta, Sacramento, and Fukuoka. Even better, we traveled together on a number of occasions. In 2004, for instance, we did some serious archaeological site-visiting in Korea and China. During that trip, having accompanied the Friends of the Cotsen Institute on a boat trip down the Yangzi River, we paid our final visit to Zhongba, which was by then was almost completely submerged under the new reservoir of the Yangzi River. The following year we traveled together in China again, hitting Sichuan, Beijing, Shandong, Shaanxi, and Gansu. In 2006, Zhongba was the focus of an international conference on salt archaeology in Tübingen; before and after that meeting we visited sites of early salt production in Germany, France, and Austria. In 2008, when I had traveled to Taiwan on other business, Pochan took me and a group of his graduate students on an unforgettable three-day road trip to the east coast of Taiwan, taking in archaeological sites and museums as well as all sorts of local culinary delights. In 2011, we visited each other’s field projects--in Sichuan and Shaanxi, respectively--and traveled together to Henan. Traveling in his company was fun and brought opportunities to talk about a whole range of things. In the process, our former teacher-student relationship developed into a close friendship.

When we did not see each other, since we were both busy, we were only in intermittent contact. But I felt secure in the knowledge that Pochan would always be there to answer any questions I might have for him. I think he felt the same about me. His last visit to LA took place shortly after my wedding, and I am grateful that he and Kuei-chen were able to meet my spouse. Now we both miss him very much. Nothing will fill the void created by his sudden passing.


An earnest word to conclude. As I think about Pochan’s tragic and premature death, I keep wondering: was it just fate, or could it have been avoided? I cannot help raising this question because it was obvious for a long time that Pochan was working too hard. Back in 2007, a concerned former student approached me, worried about the excessive work load Pochan was taking on; as his ex-advisor, she thought, I should persuade him to take it easy. At our next encounter I did have a serious conversation about this matter with Pochan, who laughed it off. Later, as well, the answer was always the same. Even though he sometimes admitted having way too much to do, and he intimated that at least some of his work allocations might have been unfairly onerous, he himself no doubt was to some extent complicit in his predicament. A true leader, he felt responsible for the well-being of his institution and its members, and he did not mind doing more than others. But in the end it may have been too much.

Not being a physician, I am in no position to determine whether, medically, Pochan’s was a case of “death from overwork” (karoshi 過勞死). Nor do I wish to point fingers at anyone. Still, his death should probably be taken as a wake-up call: as an occasion for his colleagues at NTU--especially his senior colleagues--to rethink how they treat junior faculty, how they distribute the work load in the Department, and how they define expectations for tenure. Of course, if they do this now, this will not bring Pochan back to life, but we may at least hope that a similar tragedy will not be repeated in the future.

Now Pochan has gone to see K. C. Chang. I trust they are having a good time together, wherever they may be, smiling at us who are struggling here below. May we treasure our enduring love for Pochan, and let that love energize us as we go on as best we can.


An Epitaph for Pochan
Rowan K. Flad 

July 17, 2015

There are no words to express sorrow that I feel at the passing of my friend, my brother, Pochan Chen. I have known Pochan for 19 years, and much of that time we were together all of the time, living and working together. From the day I met him, I have been learning from him. He is the first person with whom I have had such a close relationship who has passed away in such an untimely and unexpected fashion, and now, unfortunately, it is from him that I am also learning how to grieve.

I met Pochan in 1996 when we started our graduate program together at UCLA in the Interdisciplinary PhD program in Archaeology, which is now housed within the Cotsen Instittue of Archaeology. We often have argued, in jest, over which of us was the "senior classmate," since he arrived a little early to enroll in a summer language program before the academic year started, but I was one year his senior, being born a rat, and filed my dissertation shortly before he did. In fact, we were truly 同班同學, and remained as close as classmates can be from the beginning. We were a cohort of three, together with Laura Gilliam, who was studying Archaeobotany in Peru, and intending to work with Chip Stanish, who would join the university faculty only the following year. In addition there were five or six graduate students studying archaeology in the department of anthropology that year, among them J. Cameron Monroe and Andrew Kindon, and Ye Wa, who would join the program the following year took some of the courses as well.

I remember meeting Pochan in the hallway of the Cotsen for the first time. He introduced himself as Patrick, but he seems to have taken that name on just for the sake of us laowai. He wasn't committed to it, or seemingly very comfortable with it, and I don't even remember whether he would easily answer to it. Most people didn't think Pochan was too hard to pronounce, even if it did become "Pochan" and not Bozhen (or worse yet: "Po-chan" 破產, meaning bankrupt).

Our first semester we all took the obligatory archaeological theory class together with Richard Leventhal. This course, which I am actually teaching at Harvard for the first time this coming semester, was brutal and thrilling. The reading load was tremendous and we were up at all hours together as a cohort working on the material. Weekly we would go to the Westwood Brewing Company for happy hour and continue our conversations over beer. Our first time there, Pochan had to go back to Hersey Hall to get his Passport, a reasonable request given how young he looked at the time, but another minor cultural difference that Pochan had to adjust to during his time as a student in the U.S. I was always amazed by how easily Pochan seemed to adjust to the difficult and draining prospect of studying for a degree abroad, especially all the while maintaining close ties back to his alma mater - Taida.

Later that same year, the academic year of 1996-1997, we continued taking many classes together. We continued the obligatory sequence of seminar courses, taking the second quarter with our advisor Lothar von Falkenhausen and the third with Jeanne Arnold. Additionally, we both took a class with Lothar that he convened just for the two of us in which we read through basic material on Chinese archaeology. Pochan would be assigned readings in English, usually, and I in Chinese. Lothar too would come prepared to tell us about the materials he had recently been reading on a related topic. Although Pochan and I certainly learned a lot from this class, what we remember most clearly in retelling this part of our education history is the tendency for the two seminar participants who were not speaking to fall asleep as the third was recounting their new knowledge for the week.

Life at UCLA during our first two and a half years was entirely focused on coursework, our respective MA papers, and preparing for a dissertation topic. Pochan worked on revisiting research he had previously studied related to the Austronesian expansion, considering the relationships among archaeological, genetic and linguistic data, and framing this within anthropological literature on the topic of expansion and culture contact. Although not fully developed in the context of that research, his long-held interest in models of long distance interaction had its roots, I believe, in this work on the Austronesian question.

Pochan lived in Hersey Hall on campus when it was a graduate student dorm. Later me moved off campus to an apartment he shared with his longtime roommate Charles. He spent lots of his time reading, writing, studying languages (Japanese, in addition to the English he was still working hard to master), and playing video games with fellow grad students such as Anthony Graesch and Sam Connell in the basement of museum. As we moved past our require coursework and on toward developing a dissertation topic during the 1998-1999 academic year, we wrote our first article together, a project that started out as a joint term paper on the culture-history of the Chongqing region. This was eventually published in the second volume of a series edited by Li Shuicheng and Lothar von Falkenhausen, a series for which Pochan and I also did much of the translation work. The first attempt to work together set the foundation for a true partnership among equals who brought complementary skill sets to collaboration. I was very lucky to have such a generous and good natured classmate.

In the spring of 1999 we took our first trip to China together, together with Ian Brown, Lothar, LSC, Gwen Bennett, Li Xiaobo. This was only my second time in China, the fist having been for a language program in the summer of 1997. Pochan had never been to mainland China before our trip, so ironically I was the slightly more experienced, although my Chinese remained quit rudimentary at the time. Together we traveled to the city of Chengdu and around the Chengdu Plain, to Chongqing, and through the gorges. The trip was a foundational experience for both of us in many ways. We had our first exposure to real Sichuan food, including the occasionally brutal food-born illnesses that can emerge when you don't cook the innards in your hot pot long enough. I experienced baijiu for the first time, and perhaps Pochan did too. Pochan translated an academic lecture for the first time, I think, acting as the Chinese translator for Ian Brown during a lecture at Sichuan University. Perhaps most importantly, we both had our first visit to Zhongba, the archaeological site that would become our second home.

Following this spring trip, we made preparations and then headed off to the field to join the team of archaeologists from the Sichuan Provincial Institute of Archaeology at Zhongba. Over the next two years, Pochan and I lived in the same hotel rooms in the Xiangshan Hotel in Zhong Xian, took the same taxi cab, driven by the same driver, along the same road, to the site of Zhongba where we excavated in the same unit, nearly every day for about 18 months. We worked with great people and archaeologists, all of whom remember Pochan fondly. We had many "failure days" (失敗日) such as when we broke the total station on the way to the site during our second season and had to get it fixed in Beijing, or when all of our electronics seemed to explode or catch fire over the course of a single afternoon. We also had many experiences that seemed to make no sense, often due to our unfamiliarity with how things were done in China, or for reasons that were impossible to explain. My natural disposition was to become frustrated and upset at these many trials and tribulations, but Pochan had the even temper and serene disposition to always help keep things in perspective. We developed our standard explanation of such problems as "TIC", meaning "This is China", to explain the unexplainable. Somehow that made things better. Through these many months with Pochan I learned many things from him, I learned most of my Chinese, learned patience, learned to deal with culture shock, learned about aspects of pop culture, how to access the Internet in China, and so many other things.

During our nearly two years at "Zhongba University" we had many stories to tell: our April Fools joke of a fake oracle bone inscription with Zhang Zhongyun that went too far, getting Lothar, Qiu Xigui, Lai Guolong and others a bit too excited, sometime in the tiny hotel rooms of Chongqing Mansions on trips through Hong Kong; unexpected trips to Chongqing or even Beijing to try to deal with the more extreme consequences of "failure days"; excursions to other sites to try to help out colleagues; and a memorable trip to Taiwan when I met your family for the first time.

As our fieldwork finished, we started seeing each other in short, intense bursts rather than long periods of time. We worked toward finishing our dissertations along different paths. he was back in LA for a while and then spent time at Beida, in one of the underground rooms at the Sackler in 2003, a year and half after I had been ensconced there for a little while, and not long after I moved back to New York from an apartment in Wudaokou. His time in Beijing was during the SARS scare, during which he was locked on campus for a period of time, and yet the way he tells the story about that time is full of amusement and humor, never being one to overly dramatize the negative things about what he was living through.

By the time we were finishing up our respective dissertations in 2004, Pochan was back in Los Angeles writing his. I filed mine in January, and there was a deadline after which I would have had to pay an additional quarter's fees. The manuscript was done sufficiently early, and Pochan had a nice printer in his perpetually cluttered apartment, which he generously offered that I could use for the obligatory hard copies of the thesis. Little did I expect that my computer and his printer would have serious relationship problems all night. The dissertation. Took about 17 hours to print, and as the deadline approached, I still needed to type the page numbers on several pages while the last pages of the appendices printed out. Pochan, coming to the rescue as he did so often, made it possible for me to do two things at once and came jogging up to the library where I handed it in with the last pages a full fifteen minutes before the filing deadline.

After graduating, he came back to Taida and I started at Harvard. We kept working together; First in Chengdu Plain doing archaeological survey from 2005-2011; more recently in Gansu In the Tao River valley, starting in 2011. He has been with us at Harvard on several occasions, including a year sabbatical sponsored by the Harvard-Yenching Institute during which we finished writing our book, and fortunately my young son got to meet him several times, most recently at the SAA conference in San Francisco in 2015. We were in the field in Lintao county, Gansu in May, 2015, when he snuck away from teaching duties for two weeks to join our team, less than a month before his tragic passing.

Having Pochan in the field on our projects always made things run more smoothly. From our time at Zhongba through the years, he was always the one to solve computer problems and provide the solid, even-tempered personality would could be counted on to solve personal problems that occasionally arose among team members (although never, to my knowledge, involving Pochan). When the time came to get data entered or checked, Pochan could do it faster than anyone. The ends of our seasons always depended on him for speed and accuracy, and for he long ensure the logic of our data structure held. This year we were missing him tremendously when he had to leave before the end of the season. Now we will miss him always.

I realized early in our time in the field together one of Pochan's most impressive attributes. Pochan was someone who always made up his own opinions about things based on as thorough a reflection as possible. At first, I thought he was someone who simply parroted positions he heard from one trusted source or another, as so many of us do. But over time I came to realize how much of an original person he was, whether it came to his musical tastes, what he wore, the Internet memes he liked, the stories be was influenced by or the scholarship he conducted. For a while he was also the person with the newest gadgets, each season coming to the field with a new phone or camera, but always what he brought had been thought through before he got it. Pochan seemed to read everything and could always be counted on to know what was published on any topic, whether it be scholarship or news.

His scholarship was multifaceted. Some associate him primarily with salt archaeology, and he certainly took on this interest with enthusiasm and competency, writing among other things a tremendously nuanced treatment of the changing values associated with salt during the Neoltihic and Bronze Ages in China. His interests were much more broad, however, and not surprisingly given our similar training, overlap considerably with my own. His foray into World Systems theory and research on trade diasporas provided the foundation on which we wrote our co-authorized book. Recently he had increasingly been working on burial analyses as well, exploring how social identities were expressed in burial contexts and putting into practice the statistical and spatial analyses that he taught in classes on statistics and GIS at Taida.

Teaching really was his passion. Any time Pochan had the opportunity to shift into teaching mode you could see him transform. At that moment, he may have been wearing a Hello Kitty or Doraimo t-shirt, but suddenly he took on an authoritative persona, and those listening would stop and listen, always to be provided with a clear, often nuanced, and engaging exposition on whatever subject was at hand. Most remarkable was his ability to weave into his extemporaneous lectures traditional stories, pop culture, and a vast array of scholarship, including seminal works and new opinions or research. The most recent example of him exhibiting his passion for teaching and the importance of archaeological outreach occurred this May when we were in Guanghe and asked to individually submit ourselves to interviews in advance of a conference they are running next week on the Qijia culture. I bumbled my way in Chinese through the questions posed to me, happy to have been able to mostly get my points across. As usual, Pochan and I shared many opinions on the questions asked by the interviewer, but also as usual, Pochan had something to contribute that I had not broached, and was the most important point made by either of us. He commented on the vital importance of the new museum they are opening in Guanghe because of the role that museums have in public education and in communicating the significance of what we do to a broad audience. His mind was always on teaching, outreach, always on others.

His dedication to students was ever present. He took entire cohorts of students to international, English-language conferences to present papers and become professionalized, and I know that in advance of such conference sessions he had them practice, often multiple times, to ensure they could express their ideas effectively in English. He would bring students to the field, and they were always well-trained and aware of the significance of what we were trying to accomplish. When I travelled with him with students, on occasion, I could feel the true admiration and respect they had for him - a professor with whom they could both relate on a level of casual interests, and learn from within the discipline they were studying.

Pochan was fundamentally a kind person. His kindness was infective to the extent that he could express his own, genuine opinions about politics, even in China where some of his opinions, particularly as they relate to the political status of Taiwan, are not widely I shared, and he could do so without instigating conflict because he was such a genuine person. He didn't always enjoy this, to be sure, because in China during our early days there during the 1990s he certainly felt besieged by those who would disagree with him, but he, in contrast, never made others feel uncomfortable in that way. There were times I thought he might eventually become a political, maybe even someone who would run for office I Taiwan, but I retrospect he was always too nice of a person for politics. He was someone, instead, who worked and lived tirelessly as much for other people as himself, a characteristic one doesn't always find in academics. One of the many examples of his complete selflessness and knee-jerk empathy occurred in 2008 when he gave his entire salary that he was being paid to teach a course at Sichuan University to earthquake relief after the Wenchuan earthquake devastated the region. I think everyone who knew Pochan has stories about how he went out of his way to help them in some fashion or other.

Pochan had a truly youthful spirit and enjoyed many things, from good food, to stuffed animals, to amusement parks, to baseball, to video games (even inane ones, like raising mushrooms), and more. He did have his sad moments however. Sometimes with friends who are always happy, whom we rely on to provide that youthful spirit and fun loving nature, it is hard for them to find a space to express the or own range of emotions. Pochan wore his heart on his sleeves, and could be emotional when things were getting him down. He had a couple of real heart breaks during the time I knew him, but recently was so happy in his relationship with Kueo-Chen. I knew Pochan well, but I didn't know everything going on in that brilliant, tirelessly working brain.

I owe him so much. My Chinese, as flawed as it is, would be nowhere near component without him. My professional life owes so much to him: from the dissertation (not just the printing, but the content as well came from two years of collaboration and was immensely improved by our many conversations about the data), to the articles and book we wrote together, to the financial support for the projects he received through grants he received, to the students he brought who contributed to our work, to the many times he helped me translate parts of lectures I have given in Chinese. I am a better person because I have known Pochan, who embodied the patience and kindness that I constantly strive to achieve. I doubt that if I had a different cohort-mate and friend working with me all these years that I would have the job that I do, the friends across China and Taiwan that I have, or even the family life that I have, because knowing Pochan has made me a better person.

I grew up going to church, although I have never been a very religious person. As an anthropologist who occasionally even works on issues that deal with religion and ritual I do, however, genuinely believe that belief is fundamental to the constitution of the human condition. Dealing with the death of a friend as close as Pochan makes me what to be certain that his soul is content, comfortable, and at peace in a way that befits a person of his kindness and generosity. What I can be certain of is that he is in a better place because he is in our hearts and will always remain there.



这些年知识分子英年早逝的消息看得多了,也就见怪不怪了。但是听到自己的师兄陈伯桢今天去世的消息,心里还是非常震惊,非常悲哀。他性格开朗,不抽烟,不酗酒;他经常熬夜,不过这也是知识分子常有的习惯,没有生命之虞。 但是老天开了个无情的玩笑,让他竟不得长寿。

伯桢小我几岁,但是论排行是我的师兄。他先我几年进入UCLA,在罗泰(Lothar von Falkenhausen)老师门下读博士,学习中国考古。 2000年我到UCLA留学时,他和傅罗文已经在中国开展考古工作;得知我的录取消息以后,两人特地跑到北京来看我,让我提前了解UCLA的情况。他们这种对未来师弟的热心,让我感到意外,也感到温暖。





他毕业以后去了台大,听说上课任务很重,他自己也喜欢和学生打成一片,这样他做研究的时间就大打折扣了。听说台大跟西方接了轨,也搞“publish or perish(要么发表,要么死掉)”的那套政策,心中为他着急。但是每次见面他都是一副毫不在乎的样子,说到:“还好啦,年轻的老师都是这个样子啦。”