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Reading List

China Since 1979, 2021/22, Semester 1
Sarah Dodd
Tutor information is taken from the Module Catalogue

Strongly Recommended Background Reading on Contemporary China

Frankopan, Peter. 2018. The New Silk Roads: The Present and Future of the World. London: Bloomsbury.

Kynge, James, China Shakes the World: The Rise of a Hungry Nation, London: Weidenfield and Nicholson, 2006 – a lively and readable account of the economic changes during the early decades of China’s reform period.

Mitter, Rana, Modern China: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford, 2008 – highly recommended for background information on 20th and 21st Century Chinese history (may be especially useful for non-Chinese Studies students). 

Wasserstrom, Jeff, and Cunningham, Maura, China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019 – brief, accessible overview of key issues, with links to modern Chinese history.

Yu Hua, China in Ten Words, London: Duckworth Overlook, 2013 – an interesting, personal reflection on contemporary China and its recent history.

The Story of China, 'Episode 6: The Age of Revolution' - useful background viewing on 20th Century Chinese history (on Box of Broadcasts).

General Background Reading on China's Economic Reforms

Guthrie, Doug, China and Globalization: The Social, Economic and Political Transformation of Chinese Society, London: Routledge, 2009

Naughton, Barry, The Chinese Economy: Transitions and Growth, Cambridge, Mass.; London: MIT, 2007

Zhang Xiaobo, Fan Shenggen and Arian de Haan, eds. Narratives of Chinese Economic Reforms: How Does China Cross the River? Singapore; London: World Scientific, 2010

Week 1 Course Introduction, and the Beginnings of the Reforms 

General Reading: 

Ni Dandan, ‘The Farmer Who Changed China Forever’, Sixth Tone, Aug 21, 2018. 

Cannon, Terry, ‘Introduction’, China's Economic Growth: The Impact on Regions, Migration and the Environment. Houndmills : Macmillan Press Ltd. ; New York : St. Martin's Press, 2000.

Ash, R. (1991) 'The Peasant and the State', China Quarterly, 127: 493-256. 


Week 2 Urban Reform and the End of the Iron Rice Bowl

Seminar Reading: ‘Copycat’, pp181-202 in Yu Hua, China in Ten Words

General Reading:  

Hughes, N. 1998. ‘Smashing the Iron Rice Bowl’. Foreign Affairs. Jul/Aug 1998, Vol. 77 Issue 4, p67-77.

Chan, Chris King-chi. 2019. 'Changes and Continuity: Four Decades of Industrial Relations in China'. Dog Days: Made in China Yearbook 2018. 28-31.

He, Shenjing, and Junxi Qian. 2017. 'From an emerging market to a multifaceted urban society'. Urban Studies 54 (4): 827–46.

Osnos, Evan. 2014. Age of ambition : chasing fortune, truth, and faith in the new China. London: Bodley Head.

Otis, Eileen. Chapter 4 Aspirational urbanism. Ch.4 in Otis, Markets and bodies: Women, service work, and the making of inequality in China. Stanford University Press, pp.123-151.

Made in China, documentary (on Box of Broadcasts)


Week 3 Hungry Cities: Urbanisation and the Floating Population

Seminar Viewing: Last Train Home, documentary, dir. Fan Lixin, 2009 (On Box of Broadcasts).

General Reading: Liang, Zai. 2001. The Age of Migration in China. Population and Development Review. 27 (3): 499-524

Murphy, R (ed) 2008. Labour Migration and Social Development in Contemporary China, Routledge

Chang, L. 2010. Factory Girls: Voices From the Heart of Modern China, Picador

Fan, C. Cindy. 2007. China on the Move: Migration, the State and the Household. Routledge.

Hess, Steve. 2010. Nail-Houses, Land Rights, and Frames of Injustice on China’s Protest Landscape. Asian Survey 50 (5): 908–26.

Naughton, B. 2007. The Chinese Economy: transitions and growth. MIT

Ngai, P. 2004. ‘Women Workers and Precarious Employment in Shenzhen Special Economic Zone’ Gender and Development, 12. 2 (2004)

Wang, Feiling. 2010. Conflict, resistance and the transformation of the hukou system. In Elizabeth J. Perry and Mark Selden (ed.s). Chinese Society: Change, Conflict and Resistance. RoutledgeCurzon.

Whyte, Martin King (ed.). 2010. One Country, Two Societies: Rural-Urban Inequality in Contemporary China. Harvard University Press.

Other resources: Shenzhen; Future Cities, documentary from Wired UK, 2016: 


Week 4 'One China’?

Seminar Reading: Fong, Brian. 'One Country, Two Nationalisms: Center-Periphery Relations between Mainland China and Hong Kong, 1997-2016.' Modern China, September 2017, vol. 43 (5), pp523-556.

General Reading: 

Chiu, Stephen and Tai-Lok Lui. 2009. Hong Kong: Becoming a Chinese Global City. Routledge

Lee, Francis, and Chan, Joseph Man. Media and Protest Logics in the Digital Era: the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018.

Lim, Tai-Wei. 2015. Contextualizing Occupy Central in Contemporary Hong Kong. East Asian Institute, NUS.

Lu, Dale et al. Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Hong Kong. Abingdon, Oxford; New York: Routledge, 2019.

Copper, John F. 2013. Taiwan: Nation-state or Province? Westview Press. 

Please also look at recent news reports on Hong Kong.


Week 5 The China Dream? Nationalism and Globalisation

General Reading: 

Barabantseva, Elena (2010) Overseas Chinese, Ethnic Minorities and Nationalism : De-Centering China . London: Routledge

Bulag, Uradyn. 'Nationality'. Made in China Journal, 4/9/20.

Cabestan, J-P (2005) . ‘The Many Facets of Chinese Nationalism’, China Perspectives, 59.

Hughes, Christopher (2011) ‘Reclassifying Chinese nationalism: the geopolitik turn’ Journal of Contemporary China. 20(71): 601–620.

Carlson, Allen (2009) 'A flawed perspective: the limitations inherent within the study of Chinese nationalism' Nations and nationalism.15(1): 20–35.

Qingguo, Jia (2005) 'Disrespect and distrust: the external origins of contemporary Chinese nationalism' Journal of contemporary China.14(42): 11–21.

Mackerras, C. 2003. China's ethnic minorities and globalisation. Routledge.


Week 6 The Environment 

Seminar Reading: ‘The East is Grey’, from The Economist, 2013 

Seminar Viewing: Under the Dome: Air Pollution in China, Cai Jing, 2015 

Wang Jiuliang, dir. Plastic China, CNEX Foundation, 2017. (This is a half-hour abridged version of the full film:

General Reading: 

Liu, J and Diamond, J. 2005. 'China's Environment in a Globalizing World', Nature, vol.435, June 2005

Schulz, Yvan, 'Plastic China: Beyond Waste Imports', Made in China Journal, 17/1/2019

Zinda, John Aloysius. 'Managing the Anthropocene: The Labour of Environmental Regeneration'. Made in China Journal, 12/1/2019

For a repository on official Chinese policies, regulations, plans, programmes, standards and reports see the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection’s English language website is an independent, non-profit organisation which provides bilingual information (in Chinese and English) on environmental issues. 




Week 8 Life, Love and the Marriage Market

Seminar Reading: Leta Hong Fincher, 2014. Leftover Women. Zed Books 

General Reading: 

Hong Fincher, Leta, 2018. Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in China. London; New York: Verso.

Engebretsen, Elisabeth L. 2013. Queer Women in Urban China: An Ethnography. London: Routledge.

Hird, Derek. 2018. The cosmopolitan dream : transnational Chinese masculinities in a global age. Hong Kong : Hong Kong University Press.

Liu, Lydia He; Karl, Rebecca; and Ko, Dorothy (eds). 2013. The birth of Chinese feminism: essential texts in transnational theory. New York: Columbia University Press.

Otis, Eileen. 2011. Markets and Bodies: Women, Service Work, and the Making of Inequality in China. Stanford: Stanford University Press

Qi Wang et al (eds). 2016. Revisiting Gender Inequality; Perspectives from the People’s Republic of China. Palgrave Macmillan. 

To, Sandy. 2013. 'Understanding Sheng Nu (‘Leftover Women’): The Phenomenon of Late Marriage among Chinese Professional Women'. Symbolic Interaction 36 (1):1–20.

NüVoices, website and podcast


Week 9 Little Emperors: From the One to the Two-Child Policy

Seminar Viewing: One Child Nation (on Box of Broadcasts).

General Reading: 

Croll, E, Davin, D., Kane, P. 1985. China’s One Child Policy. Macmillan. 

Jing, Jun. Feeding China's little emperors : food, children, and social change. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000)

Hansen, Mette. 'Learning Individualism: Hesse, Confucius, and Pep-Rallies in a Chinese Rural High School.'  The China Quarterly 213 (March):60–77.

Howden, D. and Zhou, Y. 2014. China’s One Child Policy: Some unintended consequences. Economic Affairs. 10/2014. Vol. 34, Issue 3, pp.353-369

Shi, L. 2009. 'Little Quilted Vests to Warm Parents' Hearts: Redefining the Gendered Practice of Filial Piety in Rural North-eastern China'. The China Quarterly, 198, 348- 363.

Please Vote for Me, documentary (on Box of Broadcasts)


Week 10 Protest, Creativity and Control

Required reading: Yang, Guobin. 2011. The power of the internet in China : citizen activism online. New York ; Chichester : Columbia University Press. 'Introduction' (OLE?)

General Reading: 

Béja, J-B. 2009. The Massacre’s Long Shadow. Journal of Democracy, Volume 20, Number 3, July 2009, pp. 5-16 

O’Brien, Kevin J (ed.). 2008. Popular Protest in China. Harvard University Press. 

Cai, Yongshun. 2010. Collective Resistance in China: Why Popular Protests Succeed or Fail. Stanford University Press.

Censorship on weibo (VICE podcast);

Ou-Yang, R (2015) Political process and widespread protests in China: the 2010 labor protest, Journal of Contemporary China, 2015, Vol. 24, No.91, 21-42.

Lee, Ching Kwan, and Yonghong Zhang. 2013. The Power of Instability: Unraveling the Microfoundations of Bargained Authoritarianism in China. American Journal of Sociology 118 (6): 1475–1508

Lei, Ya-wen. The Contentious Public Sphere: Law, Media, and Authoritarian Rule in China. Princeton University Press, 2018.

Article on writers and censorship; 


Week 11 Module Round-up: Where Next? New Challenges Ahead

Reading TBC

This list was last updated on 13/09/2021