19 July 2013
SOAS, University of London has announced the appointment of Michel Hockx, Professor of Chinese and a specialist in contemporary literature and society, as the Founding Director of the new SOAS China Institute.
The SOAS China Institute has ambitious teaching and research goals and will be an expert resource for the wider world of business, policy and media. The formal launch will take place in the new academic session.
More than forty China experts from across SOAS’ portfolio of disciplines will drive forward the SOAS China Institute activities and collaborations under the leadership of Professor Hockx.
The Institute will embrace the contemporary, the modern and the historical. Its remit will include the social sciences, the humanities, as well as international perspectives from the SOAS’ regional expertise in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Drawing upon the School’s excellent training programmes in modern and classical Chinese, the Institute will promote interdisciplinary, language-based Chinese Studies in the widest sense of the term. This will create a unique Institute and centre of expertise that understands, interprets and shares relevant knowledge, and stimulates debate of China in all of its complexity and context.
Professor Hockx commented: “It will be an honour for me to lead the SOAS China Institute as its first Director from October. I am excited to be working with my China colleagues in SOAS, new partners in China, and those in other sectors, to provide a range of exceptional teaching, research and engagement programmes.
“These programmes will equip tomorrow’s graduates with highly relevant and highly valued skills and knowledge; generate innovative world-class collaborative research; and, grow and share the School’s China expertise with companies, media and governments. I am looking forward to the School reclaiming its position as a pre-eminent international centre for the study of China.”
The scholar further highlights the importance of this centre: “At a time when so many are jumping onto the China bandwagon, the need for real experts’ understanding of China could not be greater. As China’s star continues to rise, so does the rest of the world’s need to understand it and through the SOAS China Institute we hope to nurture our unrivalled expertise and share it.”
Professor Paul Webley, Director of SOAS, added: “We are delighted and very lucky to have Professor Hockx as the Director of the SOAS China Institute. He has the passion, expertise and vision that will unlock the incredible diversity and depth of China expertise here at SOAS and help make it accessible to the world.”
Professor Hockx was promoted to the Chair of Chinese in the University of London in 2002, continuing a lineage of London-based China scholars that has been in existence since 1837. His wide-ranging studies encompass Chinese culture and society from the early twentieth century to the present and have most recently focused on the role of the Internet in contemporary China.
His studies on state censorship in China stand out for their unbiased, critical approach to a frequently misunderstood topic. He is a fluent Mandarin speaker who regularly participates in scholarly debates in China. He has already demonstrated his leadership skills as President of the British Association for Chinese Studies, in which capacity he has played a pivotal role in promoting language-based Chinese Studies across all the disciplines.