Joseph Needham Professor of Chinese History, Science and Civilization
Fellow of Clare College
I read sinology at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium), where I also took a teacher training degree in history. I then studied classical Chinese and philosophy at National Taiwan University. In 1992 I came to Cambridge to do graduate work in Chinese cultural history. Following my PhD I was a junior research fellow at Wolfson College Oxford, and an assistant professor in the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Arizona. I returned to a lectureship at Cambridge in 2002 and was appointed to the chair of Chinese in 2007.
BA, MA, PGCE Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
M.Phil., Ph.D Cambridge
Early Chinese civilization; cultural history, religion and thought of pre-imperial and early imperial China; classical Chinese philology.
I am a cultural historian with an anthropological curiosity in texts and material culture. Some of my work has been inspired by questions raised in the history of science. I am interested in the ways in which knowledge about the natural world was organized in traditional China and, more generally, the cultural ecology pre-modern China. I also work on the interplay between moral and material values in early China (the Warring States, Qin and Han periods) including the religious economy, gift culture, and ideas about wealth and poverty. I teach undergraduate and graduate classes in classical and literary Chinese, the history of dynastic China and sinological methods.