Michael Szonyi is Director of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies and Frank Wen-hsiung Wu Memorial Professor of Chinese History at Harvard University. He is a social historian of late imperial and modern China who studies local society in southeast China using a combination of traditional textual sources and ethnographic-style fieldwork.
He has written, translated or edited seven books, including The Art of Being Governed: Everyday Politics in Late Imperial China (2017; Chinese edition 2019); A Companion to Chinese History (2017), Cold War Island: Quemoy on the Front Line (2008; Chinese edition 2016) and Practicing Kinship (2002). He is the co-editor, with Jennifer Rudolph, of The China Questions: Critical Insights on a Rising Power (2018; Chinese edition 2020).
A frequent commentator on Chinese affairs, Szonyi is a Fellow of the Public Intellectuals Program of the National Committee on US-China relations. He has served as a member of the China and Inner Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies, and for more than a decade was the English-language editor of the journal Lishi renleixue (Historical Anthropology).
Szonyi received his BA from the University of Toronto and his D.Phil from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He has also studied at National Taiwan University and Xiamen University. Prior to coming to Harvard in 2005, Prof. Szonyi taught at McGill University and University of Toronto.
A recent interview published in the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs