I specialize in modern Chinese history with a particular interest in the social and cultural history of Chinese Communism. My recent book, Thought Reform and China’s Dangerous Classes: Reeducation, Resistance, and the People, explores what is arguably the Chinese government’s most controversial social policy– thought reform or reeducation. I pay special attention to the prostitutes, beggars, and other “lumpenproletarians” that the Communists saw as dangerous to society and the revolution. To hear me discussing this book, listen to an interview from the New Books podcast series.
My current work in PRC history (tentatively titled Speaking for the People: Protest, Petitions, and Populism in the Mao Years) examines the richly detailed letters that rural and urban citizens sent to the Communist state. Additionally, I am continuing my ongoing research on Chinese doctors in the U.S. (project title: The Private Diseases of Both Sexes: Race, Sexuality, and Chinese Medicine in the American West, 1850 -1950) in which I consider the reputation Chinese-American doctors built for themselves as expert healers of venereal disease. At MSU, I teach classes about Chinese history, the history of sexuality, and gender and feminist theory.