Ching-Kwan Lee (1987)

Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

After I got my PhD, I began teaching sociology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. I moved to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 2000 where I am currently an assistant professor. I travel to China regularly, doing ethnographic fieldwork, offering graduate seminars in Chinese universities in Beijing, and collaborating with Mainland Chinese sociologists. My current projects look at changing patterns of labor politics and collective memories of socialism. As Chinese sociology recovers and booms after thirty-year of state suppression, it immediately faces the challenge of grappling with the momentous social transformation unleashed by market reform. Making mutual sense of China and sociology is the daunting task we face now.

I do not know yet how my sociology may matter to the world but I am increasingly aware of a unique Berkeley vision of sociology that has quietly nurtured my work. That vision is a mix of transnational, humanistic and critical sensibilities that faculties and students there have created and sustained together. Berkeley sociologists embody transnationalism not only in their work grounded in societies outside of the United State, but more importantly in their insistence on critical engagement between sociology and area-specific insights. The search for productive tension and mutual illumination of both kinds of knowledge is a challenge and impetus for my erratic moves across research projects and countries. Moreover, the Berkeley tradition of ethnography has kept me in touch with the humanistic and critical impulse of sociology, whenever I felt the need for an intellectual and moral anchor.

Dissertation Title: 
Women Workers and Manufacturing Miracle: Gender, Labor Markets, and Production Politics in South China
Dissertation Book Title: 
Gender and the south China miracle : two worlds of factory women