Dr Xun Zhou

Department of History
Dr Xun Zhou
  • Email

  • Telephone

    +44 (0) 1206 872232

  • Location

    5NW.8.6, Colchester Campus



I was born in Sichuan province, China, and gained my BA from Sichuan University. I then came to the UK for my postgraduate work, receiving my PhD from the University of London in 1998. In the past 20 years, I have lived in London, Jerusalem, Beijing and Hong Kong. Between January 2001 and December 2007, I was a Research Fellow in the History Department at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and from December 2007 to December 2012 I was Research Assistant Professor at the School of Humanities, University of Hong Kong. My research is concerned with modern China. I am among a growing number of historians who are pioneering the history of the People's Republic of China through the use of new oral and archival evidence. Based on thousands of archival documents and hundreds of interviews I have collected, my recent works The Great Famine in China, 1958-1962: A Documentary History (2012) and Forgotten Voices of Maos Great Famine, 1958-1961: An Oral History (2014) are powerful accounts which have helped to reshape our understanding of modern Chinese history. I have also a long track record in media activities. Some of my interviews with famine survivors have appeared in the award winning French Documentary film Maos Great Famine (2012). I amcurrently writing a book 'Health for the Nation: Health Intervention and Delivery in the PRC under Mao, 1949-1983'. This book is part of a larger project on Public Health Campaigns and Local Healing Practices in the PRC. This project is funded by the European Commission Research Executive Agency. Using a wide range of newly available archival materials from eight different provinces AND of equal importance extensive oral interviews with the participants at both the expert and grassroots level, this project sets out to develop a better and more nuanced understanding of the Chinese approach to health. It explores the processes through which the Maoist health system was conceived and the political context in which they were, andcouldbe, evaluated. This project contributes to the current global health policy debates concerning the importance of political commitment to health, sustained investment, access to health, the pursuit of community engagement, and action on the wider determinants of health.


  • BA Sichuan

  • MA London

  • PhD London

  • FHEA

Research and professional activities

Research interests

History of Chinese Perceptions of Jews,

Social History of Opiates in China,

Material Culture and Everyday life in 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

Teaching and supervision

  • Approaches to History (HR211)

  • China: The Long Twentieth Century (HR226)

  • Choosing Your Past: How to Design and Manage a Research Project (HR231)

  • Human Rights in Historical Perspective (HR291)

  • Research Project (HR831)

  • The Public History Workshop (HR921)

  • Narcotic Culture: A History of Drugs (From the Sixteenth to the Twenty First Century) (HR948)


Journal articles (8)

Zhou, X., (2016). ‘Cosmopolitan from above’: a Jewish experience in Hong Kong. European Review of Economic History. 23 (5-6), 897-911

Zhou, X., (2016). Re-examining the History of the Great Famine in China through Documentary Evidence. East/West: Journal of Ukrainian Studies. 3 (2), 133-151

Zhou, X., (2016). Reconsidering the Barefoot Doctor Programme. Fudan Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences. 9 (1), 41-63

Zhou, X., (2014). 'Kitchen Knowledge', Desperate Foods, and Ritual Healing in Everyday Survival Strategies during the Great Famine in China, 1958-62. Asian Medicine. 7 (2), 384-404

Zhou, X., (2014). After Empire: The Conceptual Transformation of the Chinese State, 1885-1924.. BULLETIN OF THE SCHOOL OF ORIENTAL AND AFRICAN STUDIES-UNIVERSITY OF LONDON. 77, 256-257

Dikotter, F., (2002). Narcotic Culture. A Social History of Drug Consumption in China. British Journal of Criminology. 42 (2), 317-336

Xun, Z., (2002). The discourse of disability in modern China. Patterns of Prejudice. 36 (1), 104-112

Xun, Z., (2002). A History of Narcotic Consumption in Modern China. Twentieth-Century China. 28 (1), 21-36

Books (8)

Vargas-O'Bryan, IM. and Zhou, X., (2014). Disease, Religion and Healing in Asia: Collaborations and Collisions. Routledge. 131768995X. 9781317689942

Zhou, X., (2013). Forgotten Voices of Mao's Great Famine, 1958-1962 An Oral History. Yale University Press. 0300199244. 9780300184044

Xun, Z. and Zhou, X., (2013). Chinese Perceptions of the Jews' and Judaism A History of the Youtai. Routledge. 1136835091. 9781136835094

Zhou, X. and Tarocco, F., (2013). Karaoke The Global Phenomenon. Reaktion Books. 1780232403. 9781780232409

Zhou, X., (2012). The Great Famine in China, 1958-1962 A Documentary History. Yale University Press. 9780300175189

Dikötter, F., Laamann, LP. and Xun, Z., (2004). Narcotic Culture A History of Drugs in China. C. HURST & CO. PUBLISHERS. 1850657254. 9781850657255

Gilman, SL., (2004). Smoke A Global History of Smoking. Reaktion Books. 1861892004. 9781861892003

(2001). The Wisdom of the Confucians. Oneworld Publications Limited. 1851682597. 9781851682591

Book chapters (8)

Zhou, X., Violence in Revolutionary China: 1949-1963. In: The Cambridge World History of Violence Volume 4 AD 1800-AD 2000. Editors: Edwards, L., Penn, N. and Winter, J., . Cambridge University Press

Zhou, X., (2017). From China's "Barefoot Doctor" to Alma Ata: The Primary Health Care Movement in the Long 1970s. In: China, Hong Kong, and the Long 1970s: Global Perspectives. Editors: Roberts, P. and Westad, OA., . Palgrave Macmillan. 135- 157. 978-3-319-51249-5

Zhou, X., (2016). Perceiving Jews in Modern China. In: The Image of Jews in Contemporary China. Editors: Ross, J. and Song, L., . Academic Studies Press. 5- 23. 9781618114204

Zhou, X., (2014). Collaborating and Conflicted: Being Jewish in Secular and Multicultural Hong Kong. In: Judaism, Christianity and Islam: Collaboration and Conflict in the Age of Diaspora. Editors: Gilman, S., . Hong Kong University Press. 99- 114. 9789888208272

Zhou, X., (2014). Mikevah in Beijing. In: Jewish Culture in the Age of Globalisation. Editors: Gilman, S. and Gelbin, C., . Routledge

Vargas-O'Bryan, I. and Xun, Z., (2014). Introduction. 1- 6. 9781317689942

Zhou, X., (2012). Fitness and Modernity in Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century China. In: Perfect Bodies: Sports, Medicine and Immortality Ancient and Modern. Editors: Lo, V., . British Museum Research Publications. 143- 156. 9780861591886

Zhou, X., (2008). The 'Jews' in the May Fourth Period. In: Youtai - Presence and Perception of Jews and Judaism in China. Editors: Kupfer, P., . Peter Lang. 201- 216. 9783631575338

Conferences (1)

Zhou, X., (2016). Re-thinking Health and Health Care Delivery: Historical Perspectives and Global Challenges

Other (1)

Zhou, X. and Gilman, S., (2014).But We Never Talked about it,History Workshop Online, Special Feature: Timeliness and (Holocaust) Memory

Grants and funding


Between State and Community - Public Health Campaigns and Local Healing Practice in socialist Asia

European Commission (FP7)

+44 (0) 1206 872232


5NW.8.6, Colchester Campus