The Author

Shuang Chen (陈爽) is Associate Professor of History at the University of Iowa. She received degrees in History from Peking University in China (BA and MA) and the University of Michigan (PhD). As a historian of late imperial and modern China (13th-20th centuries), her research and teaching interest encompasses social, economic, and political histories, with an emphasis on exploring how the interplay of state and local institutions over the long term shaped modern Chinese society.

Dr. Chen has published articles and book chapters on migration, frontier settlement, demographic history, and social stratification. In her work, she applies a mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods to central and local county archival documents such as memorials, edicts, and court cases as well as a large number of population and land registers.

Her book, State-Sponsored Inequality: The Banner System and Social Stratification in Northeast China (2017) was published by Stanford University

Press. It explores the social economic processes of inequality in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century rural China. In the book Dr. Chen provides a comprehensive view of how the state created a social hierarchy by classifying immigrants to the Chinese county of Shuangcheng (双城) into distinct categories, each associated with different land entitlements, how this social hierarchy was simultaneously challenged and reinforced by local people, and how this structural inequality became durable under the interplay of state policies, government officials, and immigrants. This book not only offers an in-depth understanding of the key factors that contributed to social stratification in agrarian communities in China, but also sheds light on the processes that created structural inequality more broadly.  

Read the Introduction