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Faculty Profile

Timothy James Brook     卜正民


Republic of China Chair

Department of History and Institute of Asian Research

University of British Columbia

1873 East Mall, Vancouver, BC, Canada  V6T 1Z1

604-822-5192 (o)     604-822-6658 (f)   



Academic appointments

2004-present  Professor, Department of History, University of British Columbia

2007-2009       Shaw Professor of Chinese, University College, University of Oxford

1999-2004       Professor, Department of History, University of Toronto

1997-1999       Professor, Department of History, Stanford University

1986-1997       Assistant to Full Professor, Department of History, University of Toronto

1984-1986       Mactaggart Fellow, Department of History, University of Alberta

Honorary Professor, Department of History, East China Normal University, Shanghai


Administrative appointments

2004-2009       Principal, St. John’s College, University of British Columbia



1984    Ph.D., History and East Asian Languages, Harvard University

1977    A.M., Regional Studies—East Asia, Harvard University

1973    B.A., Trinity College, University of Toronto



2010    D.Litt., honoris causa, University of Warwick

2010    Prix Auguste Pavie, Académie des Sciences d’Outre-mer, Paris, for Le Chapeau de Vermeer

2009    Mark Lynton Prize in History, Columbia University School of Journalism and Nieman

            Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, for Vermeer’s Hat

2009    Wallace K. Ferguson Prize, Canadian Historical Association, for Death by a Thousand Cuts

2006    John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship

2005    François-Xavier Garneau Medal, Canadian Historical Assn., for The Confusions of Pleasure

2000    Joseph Levenson Prize, Association for Asian Studies, for The Confusions of Pleasure


Recent podcasts

Interview with Carla Nappi on “New Books in East Asian Studies”:




Mr Selden’s Map of China: Decoding the Secrets of a Vanished Cartographer. Toronto: Anansi; New York: Bloomsbury, to appear 2013; London: Profile, to appear 2014.


The Troubled Empire: China in the Yuan and Ming Dynasties. Harvard University Press, 2010.

French translation: Sous l’oeil des dragons. Paris: Payot, 2012.


Death by a Thousand Cuts, with Jérôme Bourgon and Gregory Blue. Harvard University Press, 2008.

Korean translation: Neungji ch’eoch’am. Seoul: Neomeo, 2010.

Polish translation: Historia chinskish tortur. Warsaw: Bellona, 2010.


Vermeer’s Hat: The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World. Toronto: Viking; New York: Bloomsbury; London: Profile, 2008.

Brazilian translation: O Chapéu de Vermeer. Rio de Janeiro: Editore Record, 2012.

Portuguese translation: O Chapéu de Vermeer. Lisbon: Gradiva, 2011.

Dutch translation: De hoed van Vermeer. Amsterdam: Wereldbibliotheek, 2010.

French translation: Le Chapeau de Vermeer. Paris: Payot, 2010. Pocket reprint edition, Petite

            Bibliothèque Payot, 2012.

Chinese translation: Weimeier de maozi. Shanghai: Wenhui chubanshe, 2010.

Taiwanese translation: Weimeier de maozi. Taipei: Yuan-Liou, 2009.

German translation: Vermeers Hut. Berlin: Edition Tiamat, 2009.

Hungarian translation: Vermeer kalapja. Budapest: Európa Kónyvkiadó, 2009.

Korean translation: Byerŭmyerŭ ŭi moja. Seoul: Chungrim, 2008.


Collaboration: Japanese Agents and Chinese Elites in Wartime China. Harvard University Press, 2005.

Korean translation: Kintae chungkuk ŭi ch’inil-hamjak. Seoul: Hanul, 2008.


The Chinese State in Ming Society. London: Routledge Curzon, 2005.

Chinese translation: Mingdai de shehui yu guojia. Hefei: Huangshan shushe, 2009.


Documents on the Rape of Nanking. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999.

Enlarged Chinese translation: Nanjing datusha yingwen shiliao ji. Taipei: Shangwu

yinshuguan, 2007.


The Confusions of Pleasure: Commerce and Culture in Ming China. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

Chinese translation: Zongle de kunhuo: Mingdai de shangye yu wenhua. Beijing: Sanlian; Taipei: Lin-king, 2004.

Czech translation: Čtvero ročních dob dynastie Ming: Čína v období 1368-1644. Prague: Vyšehrad,2003.

Korean translation: K'waerak ǔi hondon: Chungguk Myǒngdaeǔi sangǒp kwa munhwa. Seoul: Yeesan, 2005.

Praying for Power: Buddhism and the Formation of Gentry Society in Late-Ming China. Cambridge: Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University, 1993.

Chinese translation: Wei quanli qidao: fojiao yu wan Ming Zhongguo shishen shehui de xingcheng. Nanjing: Jiangsu renmin chubanshe, 2005.


Quelling the People: The Military Suppression of the Beijing Democracy Movement. Toronto: Lester Publishing; New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998.


Geographical Sources of Ming-Qing History. Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, 1988. Enlarged 2nd ed., 2002.


Edited volumes


History of Imperial China, 6 vols. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007-2010:

1. The Early Chinese Empires, by Mark Lewis (2007).

2. China Between Empires, by Mark Lewis (2009).

3. China’s Cosmopolitan Empire, by Mark Lewis (2009).

4. The Age of Confucian Rule, by Dieter Kuhn (2009).

5. The Troubled Empire, by Timothy Brook (2010).

6. China’s Last Empire, by William Rowe (2009).


Opium Regimes: China, Britain, and Japan, 1839-1952, co-edited with Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.

Chinese translation: Yapian zhengquan: Zhongguo, Yingguo he Riben, 1839-1952 nian. Hefei: Huangshan shushe, 2009.


Nation Work: Asian Elites and National Identities, co-edited with Andre Schmid. Ann Arbor: Univer-sity of Michigan Press, 2000.

Chinese translation: Minzu de goujian: Yazhou jingying ji qi minzu renting. Changchun: Jilin chuban jituan, 2008.


China and Historical Capitalism: Genealogies of Sinological Knowledge, co-edited with Gregory Blue. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Chinese translation: Zhongguo yu lishi zibenzhuyi: hanxue zhishi de xipuxue. Taipei: Chuliu tushu gongsi, 2004; Shanghai: Xinxing chubanshe, 2005.


Civil Society in China, co-edited with B. Michael Frolic. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1997.


Culture and Economy: The Shaping of Capitalism in Eastern Asia, co-edited with Hy Van Luong. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997.


The Asiatic Mode of Production in China. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1989.


National Polity and Local Power: The Transformation of Late Imperial China by Min Tu-ki, co-edited with Philip Kuhn. Cambridge: Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University, 1989.


Book chapters (since 2005)


“Something New.” Early Modern Things, ed. Paula Findlen, 369-374. Abingdon: Routledge, 2013.


“The Artful Life of the Late-Ming Recluse: Li Rihua and his Generation.” In The Artful Recluse: Painting, Poetry, and Politics in Seventeenth-Century China, ed. Peter Sturman and Susan Tai, 50-61. Santa Barbara: Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 2012.


“Our Very Own Chinese Postcards from Hell.” In Representations of Pain in Art and Visual Culture, ed. Maria Pia Di Bella and James Elkins, 108-121. New York: Routledge, 2013.


“La Chine, matrice du monde moderne.” In Une Histoire du monde globale, ed. Philippe Norel and Laurent Testot, 98-105. Paris: Sciences Humaines Éditions, 2012. Reprinted from Les Grands dossiers du sciences humaines, no. 24 (September 2011), 26-29.


“The Battle of Christ and Lord Guan: A Sino-European Religious Conflict in the Philippines, 1640.” In Religious Conflict and Accommodation in the Early Modern World,  ed. William D. Phillips, Jr., and Marguerite Ragnow, 127-52. Minneapolis: Center for Early Modern History, 2011.


“Europaeology? On the Difficulty of Assembling a Knowledge of Europe in China.” Christianity and  Cultures, ed. Antoni Uçerler, 269-293. Rome: Institutum Historicum Societatis Iesu, 2009.


“Tibet and the Chinese World-Empire.” In Empires and Autonomy: Moments in the History of Globalization, ed. Stephen Streeter et al., 24-40. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2009.


“The Politics of Religion: Late-Imperial Origins of the Regulatory State.” In Making Religion, Making the State, ed. Yoshiko Ashiwa and David Wank, 22-42. Stanford University Press, 2009.


“Occupation State Building.” In China at War: Regions of China, 1937-45, ed. Stephen MacKin-non, Diana Lary, and Ezra Vogel, 22-43. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007.

Japanese translation: “Yōsukō ryūiki ni okeru senryō kokka no kensetsu, 1938-39 nen,” in Chūgoku no chiiki seiken to Nihon no tōchi (Chinese local regimes and Japanese rule), ed. Himeta Mitsuyoshi and Yamada Tatsuo (Keiō gijuku daigaku shuppankai, 2006), 229-47.


“What Happens when Wang Yangming Crosses a Border?” In The Chinese State at the Borders, ed. Diana Lary, 74-90. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2007.


“Radhabinod Pal on the Rape of Nanking: The Tokyo Judgment and the Guilt of History.” In The Nanking Atrocity, 1937-38: Complicating the Picture, ed. Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi,  149-80. Oxford: Berghahn, 2007.

“Chinese Collaboration in Nanking.” In The Nanking Atrocity, 1937-38: Complicating the Picture, ed. Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi, 149-80. Oxford: Berghahn, 2007.


“Institution.” In Critical Terms for the Study of Buddhism, ed. Donald Lopez, 143-61. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.


“The Early Jesuits and the Late Ming Border: The Chinese Search for Accommodation.” In Encoun-ters and Dialogues: Changing Perspectives on Chinese-Western Exchanges, ed. Xiaoxin Wu, 19-38. Sankt Augustin: Monumenta Serica, 2005.


Articles (since 2001)


“Hesitating before the Judgment of History.” Journal of Asian Studies 71:1 (Feb. 2012), 103-14.


“Worldly Desires.” Art Quarterly, Autumn 2011, 36-40.


“Capital Punishment and State Sovereignty in China.”  Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies 11:2 (20122), 107-21.


“Time and Global History.” Globalizations 6:13 (Sept. 2009), 379-87.


“Collaboration in the History of Wartime East Asia.” Collaboration in War and Memory in East Asia: A Symposium. The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, on-line @ www.japanfocus.org/-Timothy-Brook/2798, posted 5 July 2008.


“Collaboration in the Postwar.” The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, on-line @

www.japanfocus.org/-Timothy-Brook/2802, posted 5 July 2008.


“Rujia de zongjiao: Dong Qichang de fojiao yu Xu Guangqi de jidujiao” (Religion for Confucians: The Buddhism of Dong Qichang and the Christianity of Xu Guangqi). Zhongguo xueshu/ China Scholarship 17 (Sept. 2004), 174-98.


“The Tokyo Judgment and the Rape of Nanking.” Journal of Asia Studies 60:3 (2001), 673-700.

Reprinted in Sino-Japanese Relations: Critical Concepts, ed. Caroline Rose (Routledge, 2011).

Japanese translation: “Tōkyō saiban hanketsu to Nankin daizan-gyatsu,” in ‘Teikoku’ to shokuminchi: ‘Dai Nihon teikoku’ hōkai rokujūnen (“Empire” and colony: sixty years after the collapse of the “Japanese Empire”), ed. Yanagisawa Yū, 229-76. Nenpō Nihon gendai shi (Modern Japanese history annual), no. 10. Tokyo: Gendai shiryō shuppan, 2005.



Working papers


“Violence as Historical Time.” Institute on Globalization and the Human Condition, McMaster University, 2004.


“Auto-Organization in Chinese Society.” Toronto: Joint Centre for Asia Pacific Studies, 1994.


Translations (since 2010)


Liu Xiaobo. “State Ownership of Land is the Authorities’ Magic Wand for Forced Eviction.” In his No Enemies, No Hatred: Selected Essays and Poems, ed. Perry Link et al., pp. 85-93. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012.


Book reviews (since 2010)


“Made in Taiwan.” Review of Tonio Andrade, Lost Colony: The Untold Story of China’s First Great Victory over the West. Literary Review, March 2012, 17-18.


Trading Places.” Review of Charles Mann, 1493. Literary Review, September 2011, 6-7.


The Jesuit Who Didn’t Laugh Much.” Literary Review, February 2011.


Review of Cormac Ó Gráda, Famine: A Short History. Books and Ideas, Collège de France, on-line @ www.booksandideas.net, www.laviedesidees.fr, posted 3 January 2011.


Review of Tonio Andrade, How Taiwan Became Chinese. The Sixteenth Century Journal 41:4  (Winter 2010), 1187-88.


Review of Robert Finlay, The Pilgrim Art: Cultures of Porcelain in World History. Ming Studies 62 (November 2010), 92–93.


“Cancel the Dragon-Boat Races!” Review of Felipe Fernández-Armesto, 1492: The Year Our World Began. Literary Review, March 2010, 38-39.


Papers presented (since 2011)


“Exit, Pursued by a Fake: Forgery, Reclusion, and Luxury Consumption in the Late Ming.” Image and the Imaginary in 17th-Century China. Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 11 January 2013.


“Chinese Diaries; European Diaries; Global Diaries.” Early Modern Chinese Literature in Compara-tive Perspective. American Comparative Literature Association, Providence, 30 March 2012.

“The Jesuit Mission and Global Art History.” Jesuits in Asia: New Perspectives. Association for Asian Studies, Toronto, 18 March 2012.


“Oil Painting Comes to China: The First Time.” Migrating Modern: Oil Painting in the Literati Tradition. Hangzhou, 11 November 2011.


“Inventories and Prices in the Wanli Era: The Year-End Accounts of Cheng’s Dyeworks.” Keynote address at the Fifth International Workshop of the DFG Research Group: Monies, Markets and Finance in China and East Asia 1600-1900. Tübingen, Germany, 7 October 2011.


“Unification as a Political Ideal: An Effect of the Mongol Conquest of China?” Roundtable on the Nature of the Mongol Empire and its Legacies. Kreddha Foundation/Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, 6 November 2010.


“Valeurs et prix dans la Chine des Ming.” (1) “Un Monde où tout a un prix”; (2) “Le Coût de la vie”; (3) “Une Économie du luxe”; (4) “L’Empereur renversé par la revolution des prix.” Collège de France, Paris, 6-27 October 2010. Broadcast on Programmation France Culture: Éloge du savoir, 11 Feb-4 March 2011.


Selected recent guest lectures


“Reading Chinese Maps in the Early Modern World.” Becoming Global: The Renaissance and the World. The Graduate Center, City University of New York, 15 March 2013.


“Literati Painting and the Late-Ming Luxury Market.” Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 11 Dec. 2012.


“Atrocities in War: Address and Redress.” The Nanjing Massacre: 75 Years On. University of Victoria, 17 November 2012.


“Quand l’Empire chinois réorganize le monde, du XIIIe au XVIIe siècle.” 15e Rendez-vous de l’histoire. Blois, 20 October 2012.


“Vermeer’s Hat, and Other Things I Didn’t Expect to Find.” Keynote address for Material World: The Art and Culture of Global Connections. Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, 21 March 2012.


“Norm and Form: Cartooning the War.” Joint keynote for the conferences, Chinese Values and Universal Norms, and the Reform of Art Practice in 20th-Century China. UBC, 23 September 2011.


“China Redrawn; or, Who is this Map for?” Selden Map Colloquium. Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, 15 September 2011.


“Vermeer’s Hat.” The Hay Festival, Hay-on-Wye, 28 May 2011.


“Seascapes, Lions, and the Dutch Global Economy.” Invited lecture in connection with the exhibition, Dutch Landscapes. The Queen’s Gallery, London, 11 May 2011.


Editorial board memberships                                           


American Historical Review, since 2012

Handbook of Oriental Studies, Brill, Leiden

Studies in Comparative Early Modern History, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

International Journal of Asian Studies, University of Tokyo  

Journal of Ming Studies, Taipei          

Ming Studies, Society for Ming Studies, New Mexico State University

Shilin 史林 (Historical studies), Shanghai


Conferences organized


2013    Statecraft: Fourth Workshop, co-organized with Tim Sedo. Concordia University, Montreal.

2012    Statecraft: Third Workshop, co-organized with Kent Guy. University of Washington, Seattle.

2011    Statecraft in the Chinese Tradition, co-organized with Pierre-Étienne Will. Collège de France.

2010    Early-Modern Statecraft: Between China and Europe. UBC.

2008    Manufacturing Islam: Muslim Identities in the 21st Century. St. John’s College, UBC.

2007    The Authenticity of the Copy: Rethinking the Concepts of Mo and Fang in Chinese Painting and its Theory, co-organized with Hsingyuan Tsao. St. John’s College, UBC.

2006    War and Suffering in Modern China, co-organized with Colin Green. Institute of Asian

            Research (IAR), UBC

2005    Shanghai ’75: Living Out the End of the Cultural Revolution. IAR, UBC

2001    The Ethics and Aesthetics of Torture, co-organized with Jérôme Bourgon. Joint Centre for Asian Pacific Studies (JCAPS), University of Toronto

1997    The History of Opium in East Asia, co-organized with Bob Wakabayashi. JCAPS, Toronto.

1996    Nationalism and Postnationalism in Asia. JCAPS, Toronto

1995    Civil Society in China, co-organized with B. Michael Frolic. JCAPS, Toronto

1994    Culture and Economy in Eastern Asia, co-organized with Hy Van Luong. JCAPS, Toronto


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