Faculty by Research Specialization

The Department of History at UC Santa Cruz is known for its innovative research and exemplary scholarship. Our faculty work at the cutting edge of their respective fields, covering a wide variety of geographic, temporal, and thematic fields of study. The areas of specialization listed here are by no means an exhaustive list of our scholastic interests. Rather, they highlight the diverse and often overlapping ideas and approaches we explore within our teaching and research.

Shelly Chan
  • Title
    • Associate Professor
  • Division Humanities Division
  • Department
    • History Department
  • Phone
    (831) 459-2304
  • Email
  • Office Location
    • Humanities Building 1, 541
  • Office Hours Fall 2020: Thursdays 2-4 PDT/PST or by appt; email in advance to set up Zoom meeting during office hours.
  • 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

Summary of Expertise

Social and cultural history of modern China; China in transnational and global history; diaspora theory; historical geography; postcolonial, cultural, and gender studies.

Biography, Education and Training

I am a historian of modern and global China with a focus on migration and diaspora. My broader interests include nationalism, colonialism, globalization, identity, women, and gender.


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.


Building on this study, I am broadening my search for other transnational frameworks to explain Chinese history, 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 the “South Seas” (Nanyang), an imagined Chinese migrant geography akin to “Gold Mountain” in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.


I am a proud alumna of the UCSC History Ph.D. program. Before returning to UCSC, I was assistant professor of Pacific and Asian Studies at the University of Victoria (2009-11) and assistant and associate professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2011-20).



Honors, Awards and Grants

Shortlist for the International Convention for Asia Scholars Humanities Book Prize, English Language Edition, 2019.

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

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.