The Chinese University of Hong Kong Department of History Department of History
Contact Us

B.A., M.A. (Sun Yat-sen University); Ph.D. (CUHK)
Associate Professor, Department of History, CUHK ;
Director, MA Programme in Comparative and Public History;
Director, CUHK-SYSU Centre for Historical Anthropology, CUHK

Room 124, 1/F, Fung King Hey Building, CUHK, Shatin, N.T., Hong Kong
(852) 3943 1529

I am interested in the history of village society at a time when villages are passing into history, and the history of common people as a creation of the modern age. In place of villages rooted in the locale, we now have people looking for their roots among villages. Let me be very clear about this: I am not saying villages have all but disappeared, or that in the past there weren’t common people. I am saying that when we put ourselves into a history that is expressed in the language and images of the state, and adapt to a daily life that we take for granted, we have lost the village as a place and replaced it with the longing for cultural roots. I like to approach history as the historical anthropologist might, by combining field work and historical documents. I like to read my documents where history happens to see what I can hear from the people who have not been recorded in it. I don’t know how far I can go in this venture. I shall go where history will take me.

Research Interests
  • Chinese Social and Economic History
  • Historical Anthropology
  • Regional History
  • Ritual and Institution
  • The Common People in Modern China
Course Offered
  • Qing History
  • Historiography (Advanced)
  • Historical Anthropology of Chinese Society
  • The Common People of Modern China
  • Economic and Social History of Late Imperial China
  • Chinese Commerce and Society, 1368-2000
  • Between the State and Local Society: the History of the Pearl River Delta in the Ming and Qing
Selected Publications

Book Authored

  • Lineage and Community in China, 1100-1500: Genealogical Innovation in Jiangxi, London: Routledge, 2020.
  • 秘密社會的秘密:清代的天地會與哥老會(The secret society’s secret: Tiandihui and Gelaohui in Qing Period), Beijing: Beijing normal university press, 2022, simple Chinese version; Hong Kong: Chung Wha Book Cooperation, 2023, traditional Chinese version. (With David Faure, first author)
  • 亦神亦祖:粵西南信仰建構的社會史 (Ancestor and deity: a social history of the construction of local religion in southwestern Guangdong), Beijing: Sanlian shudian, 2011; Beijing: Shehui kexue wenxian chubanshe, 2023, updated version.
  • 雷民雷神 (The thunder god and his people), Guangzhou: Guangdong renmin chubanshe Lingnan meishu chubanshe, 2013.


Books Edited

  • The Fisher Folk of Late Imperial and Modern China: An Historical Anthropology of Boat-and-Shed Living, Xi He & David Faure eds., London: Routledge, 2016.
  • 浮生:水上人的歷史人類學研究(The Chinese version of The Fisher Folk of Late Imperial and Modern China),Xi He & David Faure eds., Shanghai: Zhongxi shuju, 2021.


Journal Papers

  • “The Ping-Liu-Li Uprising of 1906 Up Close: its local context and its national significance”, Twentieth-Century China, 48:3, October 2023, pp.230-249.
  • 清末書信所見的「不落家」與 「兩頭家」:母子共謀下的同胞家庭(The “delayed-transfer marriage” and the “dual family”: the “uterine family” under mother-and-son complicity as seen in late Qing Correspondence), Qingshi yanjiu 清史研究, Vol.6, 2023, pp. 89-103.
  • 忠臣名宦在家鄉:明清時期瓊州府的海瑞祭祀 (The loyal official in his hometown: Sacrificing to Hai Rui in Hainan during the Ming and Qing period), Quyu shi yanjiu區域史研究,Vol.6, 2022, pp. 62-84.
  • 從黎人到黎族:海南五指山民族志的再認識 (From the Li people to the Li ethnicity: A reflection of the Ethnography in the Five-Finger Mountain of Hainan), Beijing daxue xuebao (Philosophy and Social Sciences Edition) 北京大學學報 (哲學社會科學版), Vol. 5, 2018, pp. 150-160.
  • “The last of the Li: ritual texts and shifting ethnicities in Hainan,” Asian Ethnicity, 18:2, 2017, pp. 236-249.
  • “The secret society’s secret: the invoked reality of the Tiandihui,” Frontiers of History in China,11:4, 2016, pp 510-531. (second author).
  • 〈歐陽氏譜圖〉的流變與地方宗族的實體化 (The Ouyang genealogical diagram and the making of local lineage), Xin shixue 新史學(臺北), 27:4, 2016, pp.1-56.
  • 祭祀空間與地域社會:雷州雷祖祠及其周邊鄉村的靈物、神廟與祠堂 (Ritual space and the local society: focus on spirits, temples and ancestral halls around the Leizu temple and the villages nearby) , Lishi renlei xue xuekan 歷史人類學學刊, 12:1, 2014, pp.73-110. (Reprinted in John Lagerwey & David Faure eds.中國鄉村與墟鎮神聖空間的建構Constructed Space in Chinese Villages and Market Towns: The Roles of the Sacred, Beijing: Shehui kexue wenxian chubanshe, November 2014, 188-230.)
  • 從鄉野到廟堂—— 略論傳統鄉村景觀的演變 (From the village views to the memorial temples: a brief discussion on changes in the village landscape), Jiangxi shifan daxue xuebao (zhexue shehui kexue ban) 江西師範大學學報 (哲學社會科學版), 47: 4, 2014, pp. 107-113. (Reprinted in Wen Chunlai & Huang Guoxin eds.歷史學田野實踐教學的理論、方法與案例 Theory, method and cases in historical anthropology teaching, Guilin: Guangxi Shifan daxue Chubanshe, 2017, pp. 104-125.)
  • 流動的神明:硇洲島的祭祀與地方社會 (The gods who migrate: the rituals and local society on Naozhou Island, Haiyang shi yanjiu 海洋史研究, 47:4, 2014, Beijing: Shehui wenxian chubanshe, pp.232-254.
  • 明末至清中期湘東南礦區的秩序與採礦者的身份 (Social order and the status of miners in the mines of southeastern Hunan during the mid-Qing), Zhongguo shehui jingji shi yanjiu中國社會經濟史研究, 2, 2012, pp.19-29.
  • 從家屋到宗族——廣東西南地區上岸水上人的社會 (From house to lineage: the social organization of boat people who have moved ashore in southwestern Guangdong), Minsu yanjiu 民俗研究, 2010:2, pp. 224-247.
  • 乾隆時期礦政中的尋租角逐:以湘東南為例 (Rent-seeking in mining management during the Qianlong era: a study of examples from southeastern Hunan), Qingshi yanjiu 清史研究, 2010, pp.56-64.
  • 亦神亦祖——廣東雷州所見正統化下的禮儀重迭 (Ancestor and deity: the superscription of rituals in the process of legitimization in Leizhou, Guangdong) Xin shixue 新史學(臺北), 20:4, 2009, pp.115-168.
  • 土酋歸附的傳說與華南宗族社會的創造——以高州冼夫人信仰為中心的研究 (The submission of local chiefs and the construction of lineage society in southwestern China: an analysis of beliefs in Lady Xian of Gaozhou), Lishi renlei xue xuekan 歷史人類學學刊, 6:1 and 2, 2008, pp.23-66.
  • 編戶齊民與身份認同——明前期海南里甲制度的推行與地方社會之轉變 (Registration of residents and sense of identity: the introduction of the lijia system in Hainan and the transformation of local society in the early Ming dynasty),” Zhongguo shehui kexue 中國社會科學, 6, 2006, pp.184-198.


Book Chapters

  • “Contextualizing ethnic classification: the case of hemu (合畝) among the Li of Hainan”, in Thomas David DuBois, Jan Kiely eds., Fieldwork in Modern Chinese History: A Research Guide, London: Routledge, 2019, 178-187. 
  • “A millennium in the history of the lineage (zongzu and jiazu) in China as seen in Jiangxi and Guangdong,” in Han Min, Kawai Hironao and Wong Heung Wah eds. Family, Ethnicity and State in Chinese Culture Under the Impact of Globalization, California: Bridge 21, 2019, pp. 43-62. (first author) (Reprinted as 中國の宗族と家族千年史――江西省と広東省の事例から, in Han Min ed. 家族・民族・國家: 東アジアの人類學的アプローチ, 2019, Tokyo: 風響社, pp. 49-68.)
  • “Boat living in land-based society,” in Xi He & David Faure eds., The Fisher Folk of Late Imperial and Modern China: An Historical Anthropology of Boat-and-Shed Living, London: Routledge, 2016, pp.1-30. (first author).
  • “Gods adrift: religious ritual and local society on Naozhou island,” in Xi He & David Faure eds., The Fisher Folk of Late Imperial and Modern China: An Historical Anthropology of Boat-and-Shed Living, London: Routledge, 2016, pp.83-100.
  • “Mechanization, market and moving ashore,” in Xi He & David Faure eds., The Fisher Folk of Late Imperial and Modern China: An Historical Anthropology of Boat-and-Shed Living, London: Routledge, 2016, pp. 186-198. (first author).
  • “The past tells it differently: the myth of native subjugation in the creation of lineage society in south China,” in David Faure and Ho Ts’ui-p’ing, eds. From Chieftains to Ancestors: Incorporating Indigenous Society in Southwestern China, Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2013, pp.138-170.


Encyclopedia Entry

  • “Family and lineage in late imperial China”, In David Ludden ed., Oxford Research Encyclopedias of Asian History, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020. (second author).
  • “Hainan” in David Pong ed., Encyclopaedia of Modern China, Detroit, MI: Charles Scribner’s Sons, Volume: 4, 2009, pp 167-169.



  • 海南考察散記 (Field notes on Hainan island), Huanan yanjiu ziliao zhongxin tongxun田野與文獻:華南研究資料中心通訊, 31, 2003, pp. 22-25
  • 2001年華南研究年會綜述 (Report on the Annual Conference of Sourth China Research), Huanan yanjiu ziliao zhongxin tongxun華南研究資料中心通訊, 26, 2002, pp25-27.
Research Projects
Year Research Project
2023-2025 Principal Investigator, The Historical Anthropology of Modern Chinese Cities
Ministry of Education Key Research Institute of Humanities and Social Science in Universities Important Research Projects 2022
2021-2024 Member of research team, Navigation Practices in Asian Seas (16th to 19th Centuries)
Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange
2021-2023 Principal Investigator, Letter-writing manuals (chidu) from the Late Qing to the Republic: Insights into Ordinary Lives, Families and Business
General Research Fund, Research Grants Council
2019-2021 Principal Investigator, The Ping-Liu-Li Uprising in 1906: an interpretation based on an understanding of local society
General Research Fund, Research Grants Council
2014-2017 Principal Investigator, The Last of the Li on Hainan Island, 1920 – 1980
General Research Fund, Research Grants Council
2012-2015 Principal Investigator, Local Society in Ji'an Prefecture, Jiangxi Province, from the Yuan Dynasty to the Ming Dynasty
General Research Fund, Research Grants Council
2011-2013 Principal Investigator, Anyuan and Pingxiang: The Mine and the City
Direct Grants, CUHK Research Committee
2010-2017 Co-Investigator, Historical Anthropology of Chinese Society, The Area of Excellence Project (Fifth round)
University Grants Committee
2007-2010 Post-doctoral Fellow, “Redefining the West River: Ming and Qing State Building and the Transformation of Native Society”
Collaborative Research Fund, Research Grants Committee
2005-2008 Member of research team, paper contributor, “The Conversion of Chieftains: Territorial Gods, Chieftain Lineages, and the Retention of Indigenous Identity in Border Areas”
Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange
Awards and Honors
  • CUHK Research Excellence Award 2021-2022
  • Editorial Board Member, Journal of History and Anthropology (Hong Kong, 2018-)
  • Editorial Board Member, Journal of Regional Studies (China, 2018-)
  • Research Fellow, Center for Local History and Memory, East China Normal University, since 2017.
  • Adjunct Professor, the Institute of Cultural Heritage, Shandong University, 2015-2019
  • The Faculty of Arts Outstanding Teaching Award 2014
  • The Faculty of Arts Outstanding Teaching Award 2013
  • CUHK History Department Teaching Award 2013
  • Research Fellow, CUHK-SYSU Centre for Historical Anthropology, 2012-2020
  • 3rd National Young Historian’s award, second grade, July 2002
Back to top