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  Shelly Chan

Shelly Chan

Associate Professor

(831) 459-2304


she, her, her, hers, herself

Humanities Division

History Department

Associate Professor


Regular Faculty

World History
Cultural Studies
Asian Studies

Humanities Building 1

Humanities Academic Services

I am a historian of transnational and modern China. My interests lie in the intersection of diasporas, nations, empires, regions, and genders.  I am a proud alumna of the UCSC History graduate program, having received a Ph.D. here in 2009. Before my return, I taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madsion from 2011 to 2020 and at the University of Victoria from 2009 to 2011. I was the PI of the Transnational China research hub seeded by the UCSC Office of Research in 2022-23.


My current research focuses on the rise and disappearance of the Nanyang ("South Seas" in Chinese) as a migrant geography, a commodity frontier, and a regional consciousness of modernity. My previous work includes Diaspora’s Homeland: Modern China in the Age of Global Migration (Duke University Press, 2018), which examines how Chinese mass emigration in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries changed China. It also proposes the reconceptualization of diaspora as moments, rather than simply as communities. Diaspora's Homeland was shortlisted for the 2019 International Convention for Asia Scholars (ICAS) Humanities Book Prize.


Prospective graduate students who would like to work on transnational and transregional aspects of modern Chinese history, and/or with a broad interest in South China and the maritime world are encouraged to contact me via email.


Modern and contemporary China through transnational, diasporic, and oceanic approaches

Coastal south China and Southeast Asia from the 18th to 20th centuries; history of Chinese migration and diaspora

Social and cultural history; China in transnational and global perspectives; Hong Kong history.

Principal Investigator, Transnational China Research Hub, seed grant awarded by UCSC Office of Research, 2022-23.

Shortlist for the International Convention for Asia Scholars (ICAS) Humanities Book Prize, 2019.

Visiting Senior Research Fellowship, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, 2019.

Project Director, Title VI National Resource Center and FLAS Fellowships, Center for East Asian Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2018.

  1. Diaspora’s Homeland: Modern China in the Age of Global Migration. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, March 2018.
  2. “The Case for Diaspora: A Temporal Approach to the Chinese Experience.” The Journal of Asian Studies Vol. 74, No. 1 (February) 2015: 107-128.
  3. “The Disobedient Diaspora: Overseas Chinese Students in Mao’s China, 1958-1966.” The Journal of Chinese Overseas Vol. 10, No. 2 (November) 2014: 220-238.
  4. “Rethinking the ‘Left-Behind’: A Case of Liberating Wives in Emigrant South China in the 1950s.” In Proletarian and Mass Migrations: A Global Perspective on Continuities and Discontinuities in the 19th and 20th Centuries, Dirk Hoerder and Amarjit Kaur, eds. Studies in Global Social History, Marcel van der Linden, series ed., Leiden: Brill Publishers, 2013.


Tan, Joshua (hotan)
Mah Gricuk, Ania (agricuk)

HIS 80C: Global China
HIS 140D: Recent Chinese History
HIS 194C: Hong Kong History

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