Shelly Chan

Associate Professor of History


Office: 4111 Mosse Humanities
Mailbox: 4015 Mosse Humanities
Office Hours: TBA


I am a historian of modern China with a focus on Chinese migrant circulations and networks across Asia and the world. My recent book, Diaspora’s Homeland: Modern China in the Age of Global Migration (Duke 2018), is a transnational study of how the mass emigration of more than twenty million Chinese changed China in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. My broader research and teaching interests include nationalism, colonialism, capitalism, women, gender, and transnational and global history.

Entitled “The Chinese South Seas: A History of Modern Asia,” my current research explores the formation and transformation of Nanyang (the “South Seas”), a maritime region of migrant circulations re-orienting China southward in the twentieth century. Tracing a networked history of Chinese identity and power, the project brings together East and Southeast Asian history, economic and cultural change, as well as the study of diasporas and inter-Asia.

I am on sabbatical in Spring 2019. Prior to that, I was the Director of the Center for East Asian Studies and the faculty lead for the university cluster, “Rethinking East Asia and the World: Politics, Education, and Society.”

Before coming to UW, I was Assistant Professor of Pacific and Asian Studies at the University of Victoria in 2009-2011.


Ph.D., University of California-Santa Cruz
M.A., University of California-Santa Cruz
M.A., University of British Columbia
B.A., University of British Columbia


Selected Publications

  • The Case for Diaspora: A Temporal Approach to the Chinese Experience.” The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 74, No. 1 (February) 2015: 107-128.
  • “The Disobedient Diaspora: Overseas Chinese Students in Mao’s China, 1958-66.” Journal of Chinese Overseas Vol. 10, No. 2 (2014): 220-238.
  • Book Review. China’s Left-Behind Wives: Families of Migrants from Fujian to Southeast Asia, 1930s-1950s by Shen Huifen. The International Journal of Chinese Diasporic Studies, Vol. 5, No. 1 (June 2013), 99-101.
  • “Rethinking the ‘Left-Behind’ in Chinese Migrations: A Case of Liberating Wives in Emigrant South China in the 1950s.” In Proletarian and Gendered Mass Migrations: A Global Perspective on Continuities and Discontinuities from the Nineteenth to the Twenty-first Centuries. Dirk Hoerder and Amarjit Kaur, eds. Leiden and Boston: Brill Publishers, 2013.
  • “A Maidservant of the Revolution: He Xiangning and Chinese Feminist Nationalism in the 1920s-1930s.” Occasional Paper 185 (May 2007), Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
  • “Breaking the Silence. Review of E. G. Perrault, Tong: The Story of Tong Louie, Vancouver’s Quiet Titan.” BC Studies 144 (December 1, 2004): 141-142.
  • “The Myriad Life of a Community: Chinese Organizations in Vancouver.” Discussion Paper, Chinese Migration Series, Diana Lary ed., Centre for Chinese Research, University of British Columbia, Jan. 2003.

Selected Awards

  • Visiting Senior Research Fellowship, Asia Research Institute, 2019.
  • Honored Instructor Award, University Housing, 2015, 2016, 2017.
  • Resident Fellowship, The UW Institute for Research in the Humanities, Fall 2014.
  • Junior Scholar Grant, The Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange, 2014-2015.
  • Faculty Internal Research Grant, University of Victoria, 2010, 2011.
  • Dissertation Writing Fellowship, History Department, UC-Santa Cruz, 2008.
  • Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, Institute for Humanities Research, UC-Santa Cruz, 2007.
  • Doctoral Fellowship, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, 2006.
  • Dissertation Research Grant, University of California Pacific Rim Research Program, 2005.
  • Humanities Global Outreach Fellowship, UC-Santa Cruz, 2003-2005.

Advisor To

History Courses