PhD, History, University of California, Berkeley

Room 1102A, 11/F,
Yasumoto International Academic Park

3943 1332


Ever since first arriving in China and attending a high school in Chengdu in 1982, I have been fascinated with learning about Chinese culture, society and history. Much of that study has been in classrooms, libraries and archives; but I gained just as much from living in Chinese communities, mostly cities over the years, including Wuhan, Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai, Suzhou and Hong Kong. Combining experiential learning with discussion-oriented, text-based methods in a cross-cultural, multilingual, interdisciplinary setting has been at the core of the visions I have sought to pursue as Co-Director of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center and today at CUHK. It is also integral to my teaching and research. As a historian, I have taken most interest in exploring the intersections of justice, social order, suasion, morality, religion, violence and power in modern China. In recent years, I have focused mostly on rural areas, employing the fieldwork-methods of historical anthropology to investigate northern Jiangsu, Anhui and Henan at the grassroots. At the same time, as a member of the editorial team of Twentieth Century China, a supervisor of PhD and MPhil candidates, and teacher of MA and undergraduate students, I enjoy expanding my horizons beyond my research and learning from new teachers wherever I encounter them.

Research Interests

  • 20th century Chinese history
  • legal and penal history
  • history of thought reform and internal security systems
  • Buddhism and other religions in history
  • local social histories of war

Representative Publications

Books and Edited Volumes


Kiely, Jan and Thomas David DuBois. Fieldwork in Modern Chinese History: A Research Guide. London and New York: Routledge, 2019.


Kiely, Jan and J. Brooks Jessup. Recovering Buddhism in Modern China. Sheng Yen Series in Chinese Buddhist Studies. New York: Columbia University Press, 2016.


Kiely, Jan, Goossaert, Vincent, and Lagerwey, John. Modern Chinese Religion. II, 1850-2015 (2 vols). Leiden: Brill, 2015.


Kiely, Jan. The Compelling Ideal: Thought Reform and the Prison in China, 1901-1956. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014.

Journal Articles & Book Chapters

Kiely, Jan. “Afterword: Conversing with the Good Left about PRC History” positions, asia critique. Vol.29, No.4.

Kiely, Jan. “Exploring a northern Jiangsu County Intangible Cultural Heritage Archive” In Fieldwork in Modern Chinese History: A Research Guide, edited by Thomas David DuBois and Jan Kiely, London and New York: Routledge, 2019.

Kiely, Jan. “The Charismatic Monk and the Chanting Masses: Master Yinguang and his Pure Land Revival    Movement,” in Making Saints in Modern China, edited by David Ownby, Vincent Goossaert, and Ji Zhe. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.

Kiely, Jan. “The Communist Dismantling of Temple and Monastic Buddhism in Suzhou,” in Recovering Buddhism in Modern China, edited by Jan Kiely and J. Brooks Jessup. New York: Columbia University Press, 2016.


Kiely, Jan. “在菁英弟子與念佛大眾之間——民國時期印光法師淨土運動的社會緊張.” Translated by Chen Tingyou, in 改變中國宗教的五十年︰1898-1948, edited by Paul Katz and Vincent Goossaert. Taipei: Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, 363-397.


Kiely, Jan. “Dangerous Cities: Judicial Authorities, Criminologists, and the Perception of Crime Zones in 1920s and 1930s China,” in New Narratives of Urban Space in Republican Chinese Cities: Emerging Social, Legal, and Governance Orders, edited by Billy K.L. So and Madeleine Zelin. Leiden: Brill, 2013.


Kiely, Jan. “Shanghai Public Moralist Nie Qijie and Morality Book Publication Projects in Republican China” Twentieth Century China, Vol. 36, No. 1 (2011): 4-22.

Kiely, Jan. “Spreading the Dharma with the Mechanized Press: New Buddhist Print Cultures in the Modern Chinese Print Revolution, 1865-1949.” in From Woodblocks to the Internet: Chinese Publishing and Print Culture in Transition, 1800-2008, edited by Christopher Reed and Cynthia Brokaw. Leiden: Brill, 2010.

Kiely, Jan. “Performances of Resistance: Communist Hunger Strikes and Demonstrations in Nationalist Prisons, 1928–1937.” Twentieth Century China, Vol. 29, No. 2 (April 2004): 63-88.


Kiely, Jan. “Third Force Periodicals in China, 1928-1949: Introduction and Annotated Bibliography.” Republican China, Vol. 21, No. 1 (November 1995): 129-168.

Current Research Projects

2020-23, PI, “The Transformation of Local Religion in Rural Central China under Maoism, 1949-1976,” RGC General Research Fund

2019–22, Co-I, “The Last Transitions of Rural China,” China Studies Area Seed Grant, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Courses Offered

CHES1000 Introduction to Chinese Studies
CHES2001 Modern Chinese History
CHES2100/ UGEC2431 The Cultural Revolution
CHES3003 China under Mao
CHES3105 Cultural History of China
CHES4101 Chinese Legal and Justice Cultures
CHES4500 Capstone Research Paper
CHES5157 China under Mao
CHES6002 Critical Cultural History of China: Modern China
CHES6010 China Seminar I
CHES6020 China Seminar II