Shelly Chan

Associate Professor of History


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


I am a historian of modern China and of Chinese migration and diaspora. My teaching and research interests include nationalism, colonialism, globalization, women, and gender.

My recent book, Diaspora’s Homeland: Modern China in the Age of Global Migration (Duke 2018), explores how Chinese mass emigration transformed China in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by drawing it into a global system of nation-states. It also reconceptualizes diaspora temporally as “time” and “moments” to highlight tensions between migrant and national histories. The book is one of top five shortlisted for the 2019 International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS) Humanities Book Prize.

I am working on two new projects that approach Chinese history through Asia. One examines the rise of the “South Seas” (Nanyang), a Chinese migrant geography comparable to “Gold Mountains” and linking today’s East and Southeast Asia. The other project is about homeland visits and tours to China and Taiwan during the 1950s-60s.


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