SUBSCRIBER SELF-INTRODUCTIONS (your responses requested)

Matthew Johnson's picture

Dear H-PRC and PRC History Group colleagues,

The list is buzzing.  The website is launched.  Time to say hello.

At latest count there were 110 H-PRC subscribers.  To celebrate the list's rapid growth and bright future, the editors would to invite every subscriber to reply to this discussion post with a brief self-introduction.  Mindy, Jacob, and I are hopeful that this activity will foster greater connectivity between our list members, and to that end would like to particularly invite our more experienced comrades to come forward with news about their current research, so that those more junior might potentially seek out their advice.  

There are many models for what counts as a good self-introduction.  The most important things, though, are to let others know who you are, where you are, and what you're working on.  And then see where the conversation goes!



My self-introduction:

I am an assistant professor of East Asian history at Grinnell College, and currently on a year of research leave in the UK.  

My main research and writing focus is a dissertation-based book on politics, propaganda institutions, and media in 20th-century China.  I look mainly at film, and since completing the dissertation have been doing additional source-digging on related issues of geography and reception.  I also work on transnational aspects of U.S.-China relations, and China's contemporary media-related policies and moving-image culture.

As a doctoral student I was advised by Joseph W. Esherick and Paul G. Pickowicz at the University of California, San Diego.  


I am a social and cultural historian of twentieth-century China at the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago. Most of my work so far has focused on the countryside. I am interested in how the big political and economic changes of the twentieth century affected non-elite people in their work and everyday life. My first book, Eating Rice from Bamboo Roots (Harvard Asia Center 2009) describes a community of rural handicraft papermakers in Sichuan. My current book project is on women’s work in socialist China, in particular the survival of hand spinning and hand weaving in the collective era.

My self-intro:

I am associate professor of Modern Chinese history at the University of Arizona, currently on a semester of leave at the University of Michigan.

The focus of my research is located at the intersection between urban history and the history of political movements, especially of young people. My first book, Behind the Gate. Inventing Students in Beijing (Columbia UP, 2010) dealt with the May Fourth period but I have since moved to the post-1949 era.

I have written essays on 1989 and on the category of "youth" in  twentieth-century China.
I am currently writing a manuscript on Maoist China and Asian Studies in the US, centered on the history of the Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars (but with detours in France). I have also started working on my third book-length project, a history of everyday life in Beijing's Haidian District between 1953 and 1983.

I was born and bred in Venice, Italy. I received my Ph.D. from Columbia University in 2004. 

My Self-introduction.

I am professor of Chinese research at the Institute of Asian Research, University of British Columbia and director of our Centre for Chinese Research.

My research, teaching and translating cover on China since the 1920s with a focus on Party history (of the CCP, but also a bit on GMD) and intellectuals during Mao's time, but also down to contemporary events. Over the years I've become an accidental Mao scholar, as well.

Currently, I'm interested on the one hand in the Yan'an period, Mao's role in it, and the role of Party discourse and on the other hand contemporary relations between intellectuals and the Party. My last book was the edited volume, Critical Introduction to Mao (2010) and I'm currently revising a history of intellectuals and public life in China's long twentieth century for CUP.

I'm professor of Asian Law and Society at Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA). Trained in Political Science at Berkeley in the early 1990s, I've written books and articles about the PRC's 1950 Marriage Law, the treatment of PLA veterans and military families, and various other topics touching on law and society. I'm currently working on the national discussion of the draft constitution in 1954 and its impact on constitutional critique in the Mao era and beyond, as well as contemporary protests among former PLA officers and Vietnam War veterans. In political science circles, I'm somewhat of an outlier because of the extensive work in archives I've done over the years but here I'm closer to home.

I was raised in the US and Israel. After military service (1982-5) I studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Hello All,

It is a pleasure to see this list humming with activity. I am usually a lurker, invariably finding other people’s posts to be more interesting than my own, but I will try to break out of my shell and become a more active contributor. The document of the month feature is a very nice addition, by the way, and an excellent way to initiate conversation. Anyway, on with the self-introduction.

My name is Alexander C. Cook (Alex) and I am an Assistant Professor of History at UC Berkeley, where I teach modern Chinese history. I received my PhD from Columbia University under the direction of Madeleine Zelin and Eugenia Lean.

I am interested in Maoist ideology and how it is put to use in various historical contexts. My own approach to history is interdisciplinary, borrowing freely from methods used commonly in literary criticism and the qualitative social sciences.

Presently I am completing a book called _China’s Cultural Revolution on Trial_, which compares the Gang of Four trial with contemporaneous literary works to understand socialist conceptions of justice during the post-Mao transition.

My current research project looks at Chinese activities in the Congo region as a lens through which to see the changing projection and reception of the Maoist worldview in the Third World in the 1960s and 1970s. (For some introductory considerations, you might consult my chapter on “Third World Maoism” in Tim Cheek’s _Critical Introduction to Mao_, mentioned above.)

Finally, I am happy to announce the publication of a new edited volume, _Mao’s Little Red Book: A Global History_, with essays covering many corners of the world, and chapters more closely focused on China by Daniel Leese, Andrew Jones, Guobin Yang, Lanjun Xu, Ban Wang, and myself. (Now available in the UK and appearing elsewhere very soon…. Advance copies will be sold at the Cambridge University Press booth at the AAS Annual Meeting, too!)

Best wishes,

Alex Cook

I'm an assistant professor of history at Montana State University (Bozeman).

My primary focus at the moment is the interaction between bureaucracy, intellectuals & cultural production, particularly as seen through the debates over and attempts to reform ghost opera and other supernatural subjects. I am very interested in the connection between 50s/60s rhetoric & cultural policy and contemporary manifestations, especially as it plays out in the videogame industry. I also do work in game studies, and am currently working on a comparative study of the aesthetic experience of games in China, Japan, and the US with some colleagues from that field. In addition to the cultural side of things, I'm starting in on a history of Chinese mountaineering, beginning with an article on the 1960 ascent of Mount Everest.

I trained under Joe Esherick & Paul Pickowicz at UCSD, where I received my PhD in 2013.


Thanks to Matt, Mindy, and Jacob for getting this going.

This is Alex Day (aka Sasha). I recently (Fall 2013) began a new job at Occidental College in Los Angeles, where I am an Assistant Professor in the History Department. Before that I taught for 6 years at Wayne State University in Detroit. I received my PhD in history from UCSC, studing under Gail Hershatter and mentored by Chris Connery and Arif Dirlik as well.

My book The Peasant in Postsocialist China: History, Politics, and Capitalism was published by Cambridge UP in the summer of 2013 ( I recently published an article in a special China issue of The Journal of Peasant Studies entitled "A century of rural self-governance reforms: reimagining rural Chinese society in the post-taxation era." 

I am now beginning a new project on tea production in Sichuan, focusing on the issue of the changing labor process and the rural-urban split from the Republican Period to the 1960s. I am also interested in continuing work on the politics of the reform period, especially concerning the new left and rural issues. (I wish I was writing an article on Chinese mountaineering or just climbing a mountain!)


Hi Everyone,

I'm Aminda Smith (Mindy).  I'm an associate professor at Michigan State University.  I did my graduate work with Ruth Rogaski at Princeton. I'm especially interested in the social and cultural histories of Maoism and Chinese Communism.  My first book, Thought Reform and China's Dangerous Classes: Reeducation, Resistance, and the People (2013), examined Chinese Communist thought reform efforts with a particular focus on the lumpenproletariat.  I'm still interested in (and writing about) thought reform, but I'm also working on a newer project that explores letters that PRC citizens sent to various government units during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. 

I work as a professor in the Centre for Languages and Literature at Lund University, Lund, Sweden. I am a former 工农兵留学生and Berkeley and Harvard post-doc. My heaviest book so far is Mao's Last Revolution (co-author Roderick MacFarquhar), a history of the Cultural Revolution available in English, Spanish, French, Chinese and Japanese, but – as if to prove that a Sinologist is not without honor except in his own country and among his own people – not in Swedish. My most recent book, called Spying for the People: Mao's Secret Agents, 1949–1967 (CUP, 2013), was described in Studies in Intelligence as “an extraordinarily fine work of historical scholarship on a topic about which little had been known,” while a reviewer in International Affairs suggested that “it is hard to know who would benefit much from knowing this history as it is presented here.” I expect to continue until I retire to do historical research on intelligence, social control, and domestic security-related issues in Mao’s China, the 1950s in particular.

Michael Schoenhals



Many thanks to Matt, Mindy, and Jacob for creating this list and also for their attempts to improve the list model.  I enjoyed the Michael Schoenhals’ first ‘doc of the month’ and look forward to other similar list serve innovations.  I also appreciated the self-intro's and have added the recent publications to a syllabus, so please do plug your new and forthcoming works. 

I’ve just moved from Oxford to UC—San Diego, which is restarting the PhD program Paul Pickowicz and the recently retired Joe Esherick made so successful.  We plan to continue to train graduate students interested in modern China, particularly the post-1949 era.

Having written on the Republican era and the Reform era, I am now finally returning to the Mao period, the subject of my MA thesis.  My first publication is “Compromising with Consumerism in Socialist China: Transnational Flows and Internal Tensions in ‘Socialist Advertising,’” in Past & Present and an expanded Chinese version  “社会主义中国与消费主义的妥协” (Shehui zhuyi Zhongguo yu xiaofei zhuyi de tuoxie) in Journal of East China Normal University, No. 4 (Winter) 2013.  And I have a forthcoming chapter in a book Sherm Cochran is editing, The Capitalist Dilemma in China’s Communist Revolution: Stay, Leave, or Return?

Hi all

Thanks a bunch to those who put H-PRC together and who are putting so much unremunerated time into this! 

I'm Josh Goldstein, History Dept,  Associate Prof- for- life at University of Southern California. I did my grad work at UCSD and wrote a book, Drama Kings, about late Qing and Rep. era Peking opera.  Over the last 10 years I've focused on contemporary informal recycling and urban waste history but have very little written work to show for it.  Currently I'm obsessed with climate change.

Hello everyone,

I want to add my enthusiastic thanks to Mindy, Jacob, and Matt for setting up this dedicated cyber community devoted to PRC history. I hope to be able to volunteer more of my time starting later this year to help in any way necessary. 

I am a doctoral candidate at Columbia and have been trained by Madeleine Zelin and Eugenia Lean. My dissertation is a study of statistics and state-society relations during the first decade of the PRC. In it I attempt to answer a basic question: how did the state build capacity to know the nation through numbers? I have conducted research for this project in Beijing, Guangzhou, New Delhi, Kolkata, and (yes) Toledo. My broader interests lie in the social, economic, and intellectual history of 20th C China, in Sino-Indian history, and in the transnational histories of science and statecraft in the 20th century. 

In 2014-15 I will be a postdoctoral scholar at the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies and in 2015 I will join the Harvard history faculty as an Assistant Professor in Modern and Contemporary Chinese History.


I would like to add my thanks to the chorus of appreciation directed towards the organisers of H-PRC, I hope that this excellent initiative will shape the way that we work with one another over the years to come.


I am currently working at the University of York as a Lecturer in Modern Asian History and am about to embark on the process of reshaping my doctoral dissertation on the CCP’s elimination of British businesses from Shanghai into a book that explores the broader social and economic consequences of the re-ordering of China’s external foreign relations in the early Cold War within China’s urban centres.


The project relies on archival materials from the Beijing MFA archives (which were accessed just in time…) and the Shanghai Municipal Archives, as well as sources from elsewhere in China, the USA and the UK. The project examines the ways in which policy was formulated at the top and implemented at ground level from the Chinese side and on the impacts of the changing situation on ordinary people, Chinese and foreign. I recently published some of the preliminary findings in an article in Modern Asian Studies.     


PRC history has really taken off in the UK in recent years with appointments to key posts and plenty of exciting research events, including a stimulating workshop here in York last summer. I hope to be able to welcome colleagues to York again soon.


I am an assistant professor of Chinese history at Tulane University.  When I began graduate school I imagined myself as a cultural historian, but with the prominence of politics in all aspects of modern China “historian of political culture” is probably a more accurate description.  I received my graduate training at UCLA with Philip Huang, Kathryn Bernhardt, and Lynn Hunt.

I in the past few years I have published two articles that might be of interest to H-PRC members.  The first is on land reform intellectuals, the second is on amateur drama troupes in the early 1950s.  A link to these articles and some of my other work can be found below.  My book, Mao’s Cultural Army: Drama Troupes in China’s Rural Revolution, is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.  I also have an article coming out this summer on land reform novels and the Maoist narrative of revolution.

Much thanks to the organizers of this list.  I have enjoyed the posts so far and look forward to seeing how our community develops.


It seems that I am the first Chinese trying to give self-introduction here. Hope that my humble introduction may attract more Chinese subscribers to reply, if the old saying 抛砖引玉 really works.

My name is Li Kunrui 李坤睿, a doctoral candidate in history in Peking University, under the direction of Prof. Yang Kuisong.

I am currently working on my dissertation on the anti-localism 反地方主义 campaigns in Hainan of Guangdong Province as a case study for the relationship between central and local government in the 1950s. Issues that would be discussed in my dissertation include: (1) The land reform between 1951-1953, behind which lay debate between native and southbound cadres about how to balance local specialties and the needs of a fierce class struggle; (2) The policy and reality of the treatment of guerrilla veterans, including the protests of native veterans in Lin’gao and other counties in early 1957, calling for the return of power to some native cadres who was purged for localism in the past few years to protect the veterans' interests; (3) The Communists’ control over Li people in mountainous central Hainan in the 1950s while the Party’s ethnic policy shifting from claiming Han chauvinism as the major problem to mainly opposing local-nationality chauvinism 地方民族主义; (4) Overseas Chinese and their influence in politics in their hometown before and after 1950.

I have visited two provincial archives (Guangdong and Hainan), 14 archives at county level (all are in Hainan) before finally collecting enough (I guess) documents, most of which formed between 1950 and 1958, to start with my research. I am now writing two essays, about the land reform and the ethnic policy respectively.

I really appreciate the organizers of the list, which benefits me a lot. Hope to continue learning more from the enlightening discussions on H-PRC.

Dear Colleagues,

I am an associate professor of Chinese history at Allegheny College, PA, USA.  

In the past few years I completed three ariticles about Chinese communist political culture.  The first one that was published is “The Social Construction and Deconstruction of Evil Landlords in Contemporary Chinese Fiction, Art, and Collective Memory”, in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, vol. 25, no. 1 (Spring 2013), pp. 131-164, the second is “Speaking Bitterness: Political Education in Land Reform and Military Training under the CCP, 1947-1952“, which will be published this spring in the Chinese Historical Review; and the third one focusing the Recalling bitterness campaign in the 1960s, "Recalling Bitterness: Historiograpahy, Memory and Myth in Maoist China"  is forthcoming in Twentieth Century China later this year.

Thanks to the organizers of this list.  



To add my intro, I am sort of an interloper on the list, because my primary research interests are in the 19th and early 20th centuries, specifically in missionary publications in Chinese in the late Qing. I completed my PhD at Yale in History in 1996, and published Fuzhou Protestants and the Making of a Modern China, 1857-1927 in 2001. Before that I did a MA at UBC and a BA in Asian Studies at ANU. Like my dual (triple?) compatriot to the west, Tim Cheek, I am an Australian with a US doctorate on an extended professional sojourn in western Canada, in my case on the faculty of the University of Alberta, where I am currently Chair of East Asian Studies.

I do teach on the PRC and have published some things related to religious policy and Christianity in contemporary China. However, I subscribed also because I have been one of the editorial team for H-ASIA for about ten years now, and have served on the H-Net Council for the past six years, over an important time of transition for H-Net. So I have a dual interest in H-PRC, both in the subject matter and in observing what the editorial team and subscribers make of it, especially given the new capabilities opened up by the H-Net Commons. I am impressed so far -- the "document of the month" is a great idea, and a great example of how the new platform can do things that listserv alone could not. I am looking forward to following how H-PRC develops and learning from you all.

Ryan Dunch
University of Alberta


Hi everyone,

I work on the social history of the PRC, 1949-present, from my home base at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.  A paperback edition of my book, City Versus Countryside in Mao's China: Negotiating the Divide, was released earlier this month.

I'm working on:

Maoism at the Grassroots: Everyday Life in China’s Era of High Socialism, co-edited with Matthew Johnson, forthcoming from Harvard University Press and including chapters from a number of H-PRC colleagues.

A New History of the Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989.

A social history of accidents in the PRC, 1949-present.

I also hope to someday write more about the Cultural Revolution in Tianjin.  I'm also interested in how the class status label system worked and shifted at the grassroots during the Mao period.

Many thanks to Mindy, Jacob, Matt, and everyone who has posted so far for getting H-PRC off the ground!


Jeremy Brown




I'm Daniel Leese, historian and sinologist working at the University of Freiburg in Germany. My research interests cover Qing history to the present, with a strong focus on PRC history. I have previously published "Mao cult: Rhetoric in Ritual in China's Cultural Revolution" (Cambridge UP) and edited a reference work, which some of you might know (Brill's Encyclopedia of China, Leiden 2009).

My current research is focussed on the reversal of "unjust" verdicts after the Maoist period, which is mainly directed at cases and petitions of ordinary citizens by way of looking at original court files, dossiers, letters and archives. A further project looks at the interplay of law and politics in the land reform campaign, based on the diary of CCP zhengfa official from Pingyuan sheng.


Daniel Leese


Although I would consider myself a historian of the United States, my research is primarily focused on foreign relations and expatriates (especially in relation to China). My current research project (which I intend to expand into a dissertation) is on American expatriates in the People's Republic of China from 1949 until 1972 and conceptions of citizenship.

I will be entering the History PhD program at Boston University in the fall.

A. William Bell

Thanks Mindy, Jacob, and Matt for organizing this productive and stimulating forum.

I am an associate professor in the Sociology Department of the University of California, Davis. My research has been focused on Chinese communism, especially society and politics in the 1950s. My book, Disorganizing China (Stanford, 2007) offers a study of everday workplace organization and culture based on archival material from the Shanghai Municipal Archives and interviews I conducted wth retirees in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In the book, I look at patterns of work and authority as well as compensation and punishment.

I have been writing on the appearance of intellectuals as embodied political subjects within the Chinese Communist movement and then nationwide. Interesting issues of domination and organizaton and use of classification and identification, and identity and embodiment arise once the constituent subject is dispensed with, to paraphrase Foucault. My articles on this topic have appeared in China Quarterly (2003, 2007), Modern China (2009), Journal of Asian Studies (2010), and British Journal of Sociology (2013).

I have been reexamining the dynamics of the Hundred Flowers Campaign of the mid-1950s. Recently, I have published two articles in China Journal (2012, 2013) on this subject. They are related to my interest in the intellectual. The first piece explores how the Mao regime used the cultural elites to provide leadership in criticizing the state when their members were aware of the extent to which the regime had crushed opposition. The other piece argues that three different interpretations of the proper relationship between the intellectual and the state appeared, corresponding more or less to the May Fourth, the Confucian, and the Yan'an vision of society and politics.

Currently, I am exploring the issue of class formation in the PRC, not simply in the conventional sense of social inequality and collective action (or class-in-itself and class-for-itself), or perspectives commonly used in the study of capitalist societies. I am trying to take into account the rise of what Shiela Fitzpatrick refers to as "Marxist classes" in socialist societies, or highly visible, labeled populations in which their members had not had any common identity or consciousness. The uniqueness of this phenomenon seems to warrant a rethinking of class formation in the PRC and reevaluation of conventional Marxist or Weberian approaches to class.

















Dear all,

   My name is Huajie Jiang (蒋华杰),A PhD candidate in the center for cold war international history studies located in East China Normal University ,Shanghai, under supervision of Prof Chen jian and Prof Shen Zhihua.

   My self introduction comes so late since I poured my self into my dissertation and archival research in past five months. My dissertation centers on how Mao’s China, as a participant of global cold war in 1960s and 1970s , exported its ideas on development and revolution to African countries by providing kinds of aids(Which covered Military Education  Industry Agriculture and Health care).In short, my dissertation illuminates the dynamic correlations between Chinese domestic politics and its foreign aids.

   After defending dissertation in later May, I will move to anther planned project:” Dragon’s Third Eye: Mao’s Secret Intelligence Agencies in Cold War(1948-1983)”,which is very interesting but totally understudied. My project will focus on the“ Normal and Abnormal Functional Activities” (正常和不正常的功能)of Mao’s secret agencies, several questions as followed will be answered: what role did the intelligence agencies play in Mao’s policing making, how Mao’s idea of continuous revolution impacted Intelligence agencies’ activities domestic and abroad……            

    Meanwhile,I am now in charge of a data base construction in the center of cold war studies. The data base is consist of around one million pages of primary materials which collected from ministerial/provincial and county archives, it will be finished in three years and accessed to everyone. Since all levels of Chinese archives are now cracking down on historians(and situation will be worse in coming couple years prospectively),We hope this project will benefit scholars in the future. 

    Many thanks to Mindy,Jacob and Matt for organizing this informative forum online.


Huajie jiang

Dear colleagues,

I also want to use this opportunity to thank the organizers for putting up this page (I particularly enjoy the document of the month!), and provide a self-introduction.

I am professor for contemporary Chinese history at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (Germany), where I specialize in historiography of modern China, nationalism, and in questions in the history of ideas in general. My last book was the edited volume Places of Memory in Modern China (Brill, 2012), of which a paperback came out in 2014.

Currently, I am pursuing a project on the discourse of science in the post-1949 period, entitled Science, Modernity and Political Behavior in contemporary China (1949-1978).

What might be of interest of the members of this group is the fact that our institute houses a collection donated by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences (SASS) in 2006. The collection contains approximately 100,000 separate volumes as well as a variety of periodicals (approx. 10,000 bounded volumes) published from the late 1940s to the 1980s. It features an assortment of publications ranging from translated Marxist classics to medical textbooks, from philosophical and literary works to agriculture handbooks and propaganda pamphlets, from popular youth magazines to academic journals. The major fields this collection covers are technology and science (19,000 volumes), economics, industry, agriculture, and commerce (15,000 volumes), history and historical science (11,000 volumes) as well as literature and arts (14,000 volumes). This collection is freely accessible, an overview of it can be found at

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you very much to the organizers for putting this together!

I was trained at UCSD by Joe Esherick and Paul Pickowicz. I'm now at UMass Amherst specializing in the history of science in post-1949 China. My first book, The People's Peking Man: Popular Science and Human Identity in Twentieth-Century China, was published in 2008. Since then, I've produced a bunch of articles and book chapters (some of which are still in what can be a very long publishing pipeline) related to a second project on agricultural science and socialism in China. That work is coming together in a book I'm calling "Red Revolution, Green Revolution: Encounters with 'Scientific Farming' in Socialist China." The book explores the tensions and also the resonance between green and red revolutions in China -- that is, between efforts to transform rural China through agricultural science and technology on one hand, and social and political revolution on the other -- and it does so through a succession of chapters that investigates the experiences, in turn, of Western visitors to 1970s China, Chinese scientists, peasants, state agents, and finally educated youth. I very much hope to wrap it up this year. In the meantime, if people are interested I can direct them to the various articles and chapters...

What's keeping me busy right now? I'm directing a program at UMass called Social Thought & Political Economy ( It's a radical undergraduate major that makes decisions on a consensus basis in committees that include staff, students, and faculty. (I like to think of these as 三结合 -- it works really well for us at least, since we truly do benefit from the different types of knowledge each group brings to the table.) And I'm organizing a conference April 11-13 for a couple hundred people ( Many of you have undoubtedly encountered the 1974 book China: Science Walks on Two Legs by a delegation of radical U.S. scientists known as Science for the People. About six years ago I interviewed a number of them and wrote about their trip in a journal article (more will appear in the "Red Revolution, Green Revolution" book). When one of my interviewees suggested I get them all together again for a reunion, I thought that would be a nice way to "give back" to people who had helped me with research. It snowballed from there and has temporarily taken over my life. But it's good to be useful... and I should be able to get my head back in the PRC soon.

Looking forward to reading more on the list,