Regular Faculty

Shelly Chan
  • Title
    • Associate Professor
  • Division Humanities Division
  • Department
    • History Department
  • Phone
    (831) 459-2304
  • Email
  • Office Location
    • Humanities Building 1, 541
  • Mail Stop History Department
  • Mailing Address
    • 1156 High Street
    • Santa Cruz CA 95064
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise China, Globalization, World History, Cultural Studies, Asian Studies
  • Courses HIS 80C: Global China, HIS 140D: Recent Chinese History
  • Advisees, Grad Students, Researchers Joshua Tan

Summary of Expertise

Modern China; transnational, transregional, and global history; social and cultural history; diaspora, postcolonial, cultural, and gender studies.

Biography, Education and Training

I am a historian of modern China and the Chinese diaspora. My broader interests include nationalism, colonialism, globalization, migration, women, and gender. As of July 1, 2021, I begin a three-year term as a member of the American Historical Review's Board of Editors, focusing on East Asia and the Pacific World. Additionally, I serve on the American Historical Association's 2023 Annual Meeting Program Committee.


My recent book, Diaspora’s Homeland: Modern China in the Age of Global Migration (Duke University Press, 2018), examines how Chinese mass emigration in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries transformed 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.


Building on this study, I am broadening my search for both transnational and nonnational frameworks to explain Chinese politics, culture, and identity. One of my new projects is the history of “homegoings” (huiguo) involving China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the diaspora during the Cold War. Another project looks at the rise of Nanyang the “South Seas,” a Chinese migrant geography akin to the trans-Pacific “Gold Mountains” in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Of particular interest to me is the transregional connections between East Asia and Southeast Asia.


I received my Ph.D. from UCSC and BA and MA degrees from the University of British Columbia. Before returning to UCSC, I was Assistant and Associate Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2011-20) and Assistant Professor of Pacific and Asian Studies at the University of Victoria, Canada (2009-11).


Honors, Awards and Grants

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.

Selected Publications

  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.