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Academic Staff

Dr Xun Zhou

Staff positionLecturer
Telephone01206 872232

Born in Sichuan province, China, Dr. Xun Zhou received her PhD from the University of London in 1998. In the past 20 years, she has lived in London, Jerusalem, Beijing and Hong Kong. Between January 2001 and December 2007 she was a Research Fellow at the History Department at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. From December 2007 to December 2012 she was Research Assistant Professor at the School of Humanities, University of Hong Kong. Dr Zhou has also a long track record of media activities. Her most recent media appearance include the new French Documentary film Mao’s Great Famine (2012) and BBC Radio 4 programme As History is My Witness (October 2012). She also writes a regular Op-Ed Column for South China Morning Post.


BA Sichuan, MA London, PhD; London

Research interests

In the past years her research has ranged across topics such as

  • ‘History of Chinese Perceptions of Jews’,
  • ‘Social History of Opiates in China’,
  • ‘Material Culture and Everyday life Modern China (1870-1950)’,
  • ‘Social History of Photography in Modern China’,
  • ‘Health and Modernity in 20th Century China: a visual history’, and
  • ‘Food and Foodways in China'. 

Besides modern Chinese history Dr. Zhou has an outstanding track record in trans-cultural/global history. She has worked on wide range of topics from

  • ‘Narcotic Culture’, ‘Global History of Smoking’ and‘Global History of Karaoke’ to
  • ‘Race and Ethnicity in Asia and Europe’ and ‘Cultural Nationalism’.

She is one of only a handful of historians who are pioneering the history of the People's Republic of China through the use of new oral and archival evidence. In the past four years, she worked on a project of key importance to the history of the twentieth century, namely the Great Famine in China under Mao. Her new book The Great Famine in China, 1957-1962: A Documentary History (2012), published by Yale University Press, is the labour of her research in those four years. Based on over hundred interviews she has collected, she is currently completing an oral history volume on the Great Famine entitled Forgotten Voices: Mao’s Great Famine (1958-1961), also to be published by Yale University Press.

Teaching responsibilities

HR226: China: The Long Twentieth Century

HR100: The Making of the Modern World, 1776-1989



1. The Great Famine in China: A Documentary History, 1958-1961, Yale University Press, 2012

2. Karaoke: the Global Phenomenon, co-authored with Francesca Tarocco, London: Reaktion Books; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, April 2007.

3. Smoke: A Global History, co-edited with S. L. Gilman, London: Reaktion Books, 2004.

4. Narcotic Culture: A Social History of Drug Consumption in modern China, co-authored with Frank Dikötter and Lars Laamann, London: Hurst & Co.; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004.

5. Wisdom of Confucians, co-authored with T H Barrett, Oxford: OneWorld Books, 2001.

6. History of Youtai: Chinese Perceptions of Jews and Judaism, London: Routledge-Curzon, 2001.  


1. 'Evidence of Mao's Hidden Famine, Inside China's State Archive' in History Workshop Online, November29 2012, http://www.historyworkshop.org.uk/maos-hidden-famine-inside-chinas-state-archives/

2. 'Fitness and Modernity in Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century China’ in Perfect Bodies: Sport, Medicine and Immortality edited by Vivienne Lo, London: The British Museum, 2012, pp. 143-56.

3. ‘Mikvah in Beijing’, The European Review of History - Revue Européenne d'Histoire, 2011, vol. 18 (1): 123-130.

4. ‘Ethnicity and Race’, The Palgrave Dictionary of Transnational History, 2009, ed. by Akira Iriye and Pierre-Yves Saunier, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 347 – 351.

5. ‘Thomson’s China Photographs and the Wellcome Library’, Through the Lens of John Thomson: 1868-1872 (exhibition catalogue), 2009, ed. by Beijing World Art Museum, Beijing: China Photographic Publishing House, pp. 16-17. Youtai-Presence and Perception of Jews and Judaism in China, 2008, ed. by Peter Kupfer, Frankfurt: Peter Lang, pp. 201-216.

7. ‘Eat, Drink and Sing, and be Modern and Global: Food, Karaoke and “Middle Class” Consumers in China’, Patterns of Middle-class Consumption in India and China, 2008, ed. by Christophe Jaffrelot and Peter van der Veer, LA/London/New Delhi/Singapore: Sage Publication, pp.1 10-126. 

8. ‘健与美:当代中国的医学和健康 ’ (Beauty and Health: Medical Imagery in 20th Century China), in 形象中医中医像研究 (Imagining Chinese Medicine), 2007, ed. by 罗为前&王淑明, 人民衛生出版社 (北京), pp. 270-274.

9. ‘China, British Imperialism, and the Myth of the “Opium Plague”’ co-authored with Frank Dikötter and Lars Laamann, Drugs and empires, 2007, ed. by James H. Mills and Patricia Barton, Basingstoke: Palgrave, pp. 19-38.

10. ‘Consuming Leisure: “middle class” and consumerism in contemporary China’, China Studies, no. 2, 2005, pp. 19-29.

11. ‘The Kaifeng Jew Hoax: Constructing the “Chinese Jews”’, In Orientalism and Jews, 2004, ed., by Ivan Davidson Kalmar & Derek Penslar, MA: Brandeis University Press & University Press of New England, pp. 68-80.

12. ‘Counting Down to Chaos in Beijing: SARS in China’, in Far Eastern Economic Review, May 15, 2003, p. 49.

13. ‘A History of Narcotic Consumption in Modern China’, Twentieth century China, Nov., 2002, pp. 21-36.

14. ‘Narcotic Culture: A Social History of Drug Consumption in China’, co-authored with Frank Dikötter & Lars Laamann, in The British Journal of Criminology, vol. 42, no. 2, Spring 2002, pp. 317-36.

15. ‘Discourse of Disability in Modern China’, Patterns of Prejudice, vol. 36, no. 1, 2002, pp. 104-12.

16. ‘Youtai: A History of the “Jews” in Modern China’, in Jews in China: from Kaifeng to Shanghai, 2000, ed. by Roman Malek, Monumenta Serica Monography Series XLVI, Sankt Augustin: Institut Monumenta Serica, pp. 617-634.

17. ‘The Image of the “Jews” in the May Fourth Period’, Jewish Culture and History, 2000, pp. 18-41.10.

18. ‘Jews in Chinese Culture: Representation and Reality’, in Jewries at Frontier, 1999, ed. by Sander L Gilman and Milton Shain, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, pp. 224-241.

19. ‘Youtai: The Myth of the Jew in Modern China’, in Construction of Racial Identities in China and Japan, 1997, ed. by Frank Dikötter, London: Hurst & Company, pp. 53-74.


1. Forgotten Voices: An Oral History of the Great Famine in China (1958-1961), (under contract with Yale University Press)

2. Convergence and Collisions: Disease, Religion and Healing in Asia, co-ed., (under consideration by Oxford University Press)

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