For the last 25 years, Dr. Chung Sze-yuen Professor of Social Science Ching Kwan Lee has offered pioneering sociological insights into the development of contemporary China. She has built a celebrated body of scholarly work that tracks the changing conditions of Chinese capitalism from the unique perspective of China’s working class. Her in-depth, comparative ethnographic approach has enabled her to challenge traditional thinking in areas ranging from Marxist theories of labor politics to conceptualizations of capitalism and socialism.
Professor Lee shows no signs of slowing down in her quest to analyse China’s increasingly global development. One of her current projects, for example, looks at Hong Kong as the frontier of “global China” in terms of both China’s multifaceted and powerful presence and popular reactions to it. This project emerged from a trilogy of monographs in which Professor Lee charted the rise of China as the “workshop of the world,” the diverse patterns of labor protests during the transition from state socialism to state capitalism, and the politics of Chinese state investment in Africa.
Professor Lee is an authority on globalization, political sociology and the development of the Global South, and is known for her theory-driven, comparative ethnographic methodology. It is no surprise, therefore, that her monographs have received a plethora of awards, including the prestigious Joseph Levenson Book Prize, the Alice Amsden Book Award, the Africa-Asia Book Award, and multiple Best Book Awards from the American Sociological Association. She was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey; Stanford University’s Centre for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences; and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Her insights feature prominently in the leading journals in her field, such as the American Journal of Sociology, the American Sociological Review, China Quarterly, the Journal of Asian Studies, and New Left Review. She is also the founding chair of the Society for Hong Kong Studies.
Professor Lee received degrees from both the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the University of California at Berkeley, and her approach to education reflects her own synthesized and multicultural experience. For instance, she teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses on ethnographic methodology, sociological theory and contemporary China. She has given keynote lectures in universities around the world, and has served on a number advisory boards to enhance research and pedagogical standards. She has also helped steer a number of research centers in their mission to promote labor and employment research, gender studies, social theory and, of course, China studies.