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Dr Song-Chuan Chen

Song-Chuan Chen Office:
Office Hours:

H015, ground floor of the Humanities Building
Term time: Tuesdays 14:30-15:30; Thursdays 12:00-13:00; and by appointment.

Academic Profile

  • 2017 onwards: Assistant Professor in the History of Modern China, University of Warwick
  • 2011-2017: Assistant Professor, Nanyang Technological University
  • 2008-2011: Research Associate, University of Bristol
  • 2009: PhD, University of Cambridge


Research Interests

My research interests lie in the field of modern Chinese history, with an emphasis on history from below. Currently I am researching travel journals, letters, personal diaries, and legal documents in order to trace information about Chinese commoners in the international port of Canton before 1842. Their interactions with foreigners and their history in the most important trading port of the long eighteenth century has not been accounted for. I am also working on the Cold War history of Taiwan. This project is rooted in my upbringing on Matsu—one of Taiwan’s Cold War frontier islands. Exploring military archives, private records, and source materials collected form interviews during fieldwork, I am writing a social history of the islanders in the context of the wider global Cold War. Through these two ongoing projects, I want to know how ordinary people made use of and interacted with larger socio-political-economic structures and to explore the possibilities of writing peoples’ history.

Selected Publications


Refereed Journal Articles:

Book Chapters:

  • Chen, Song-Chuan (2015). “Strangled by the Chinese and Kept ‘Alive’ by the British: Two Infamous Executions and the Discourse of Chinese Legal Despotism,” in Richard Ward, ed. A Global History of Execution and the Criminal Corpse, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, 199-219

  • Chen, Song-Chuan (2008). “Chinese Narrator and Western Barbarians: Protestant Missionaries’ Narrative Strategy in their Geographical Writings, 1819-1839,” in Peter Tze Ming Ng and Wu Xiaoxin eds., Studies in Christianity and Chinese Society and Culture (Hong Kong: Centre for the Study of Religion and Chinese Society, 2008), 391-422

Other publications:

  • Blog article: “A Ghost Army of Ancestors”, Past and Present Blog, 28 April 2018
  • Book review essay: "Violence and Order on the Chengdu Plain: the Story of a Secret Brotherhood in Rural China, 1939-1949", Social History 43:4 (October, 2018), 556-558.
  • Book review essay: "Southwest China in a Regional and Global Perspective (c.1600-1911): Metals, Transport, Trade and Society", The Economic History Review 71:4 (November 2018), 1431-1432.
  • Book review essay: “Luxurious Networks: Salt Merchants, Status, and Statecraft in Eighteenth-Century China.” The Journal of the Historical Association, Volume 103, Issue 354 (January 2018), 159-161.
  • Encyclopaedia entry: “Nationalism”, in Michael Dillon (ed.) Encyclopedia of Chinese History, (Routledge, 2017).
  • Encyclopaedia entry: “Imperial Household Department (Neiwufu)”, in Michael Dillon (ed.) Encyclopedia of Chinese History, (Routledge, 2017).
  • Book review essay: “From Amorous Histories to Sexual Histories: Tongzhi Writings and the Construction of Masculinities in Late Qing and Modern China”, Frontiers of Literary Studies in China, 9:3 (Sep 2015).
  • Book review essay: “China’s Contested Capital: Architecture, Ritual, and Response in Nanjing, and New Narratives of Urban Space in Republican Chinese Cities: Emerging Social, Legal and Governance Orders. The China Journal, No. 73 (January 2015).
  • Book review essay: “Lost Colony: The Untold Story of China’s First Great Victory over the West. (Tonio Andrade, Princeton University Press, 2011.), Itinerario, 36:01 (April 2012).
  • Public history essay: “Preserving Tianjin: Colonial-style Houses and Martial-Arts Fiction,” China Heritage Quarterly, No.21 (March, 2010)
  • Book review essay: “East Asia before the West—Five centuries of trade and tribute, (David C. Kang. New York, Columbia University Press. 2010), for East Asia Integration Studies
  • Book review essay: “China and the international system, 1840-1949: Power, presence and perceptions in a century of humiliation,” in East Asia, 26:2 (June 2009).

Postgraduate supervision:

I am happy to consider postgraduate supervisions on topics concerned with the history of modern China.

YouTube Video

The First Opium War: Merchants of War and Peace I

The First Opium War: Merchants of War and Peace II