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SOAS China Institute

Research Themes

1. China in Asia, Africa and the Middle East

SOAS is the world’s leading institution for the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. This theme leverages the School’s regional expertise to better understand the global context of China, outside of the typical US-China relationship. It will consider China as a nation that explores and expands, through trade, soft power, and potentially through military power, including both contemporary and historical perspectives.

2. China: Population and Change

Fundamental demographic changes are taking place in China and their impact on specific groups differs according to many factors, including gender, age, ethnicity and urban or rural location. Looking through the lens of changes in family life and related cultural values and traditions will be one of the areas focused on within this theme.

3. China: Education and Censorship

This research area will examine both the control of information and the dissemination of knowledge within state-driven sectors. Censorship in all its aspects is strongly in need of unbiased and level-headed research approaches. China is often criticised for its censorship practices, yet at the same time Chinese schools have been receiving worldwide praise for the high academic standards of their pupils. The role of the Internet and the global creative industries will also be prominently addressed under this theme.

4. China: Health, Water and Food Security

Bringing together the economic, medical, and cultural aspects of food, water and health in China, and linking them to crucial questions of domestic and international security will provide greater understanding of how China sustains itself as it continues to experience unprecedented economic growth. Environmental aspects related to food and water in China will also be an integral part of this research area.

5. China: Images and Imagination

Working with visual material, ranging from art to advertising, from journalism to propaganda, we will explore innovative methods to visualise how China imagines itself, and how it is imagined elsewhere. Whilst focusing on art and culture this theme will resonate across all disciplines, and produce new-style scholarly outputs that move beyond traditional books and articles.

6. China: Energy and Climate

Moving beyond routine observations of China’s energy demands and air pollution challenges, this policy-focused research area will encourage scholarly analysis of China’s current and future energy use, as well as informed discussions of China’s responses to climate change at both national and regional levels. Proposals formulated in this research area will be supported by SOAS’s expertise in cultural and historical aspects of China’s use of energy resources, as well as by the expertise of our dedicated Centre for Development, Environment and Policy (CEDEP).

7. China: Justice and Rights

Human rights and social justice are highly contested terms framing much of the debate about China in other countries. By examining the practical implications of social, political and economic inequality in China, as well as cultural and theoretical understandings of rights and justice from a Chinese perspective, we aim to contribute independent, informed viewpoints to an often highly polarised debate.

8. China: Beliefs and Communities

Questions about how religion, ideology and other belief systems provide social cohesion but also produce tensions between diff erent communities lie at the core of this highly complex and interdisciplinary research area.  Topics will range from examination of China’s governance of ethnic minorities to the historical changes in the ruling Party’s own belief system, and from fieldwork among religious groups in China to investigations into the culture of Chinese communities overseas.

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