My interest in China started with studying the language as an undergraduate student at McGill University. After struggling for a year, I abandoned Chinese language study in frustration. But it was an anthropology class on contemporary China (with Laurel Bossen) the following year that renewed my interest and pushed me to give Chinese language study another chance. I devoted the summer of 1991 to intensive language training at Xiamen University. (The moral of the story: it's a difficult language to learn, but don't give up!) After graduating in 1992, I spent a year studying Chinese at Nanjing University before pursuing graduate studies in sociology at the University of Chicago. Since the early 1990s I have lived in China for over six years, three of which were spent in Beijing collaborating with scholars at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Renmin University of China.
I am currently studying rural state-society relations, their historical influences, and their recent changes in the wake of China's "harmonious society" policies. I am particularly interested in assessing the extent to which and the mechanisms by which local state-society relations have been shaped by local memories of historical events.