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Faculty Profile

Timothy Cheek

Louis Cha Chair in Chinese Research

Institute of Asian Research
The University of British Columbia
Room 371, 1855 West Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2
(604) 822-6206

Ph.D., History and East Asian Languages, Harvard University
M.A. (History), The University of Virginia
B.A. Asian Studies, Honours, Australian National University


Modern China, particularly China’s intellectuals and Chinese Communist Party history. Current projects include contemporary Chinese intellectuals and Chinese thought, writings of Mao Zedong (Yan’an period), and Chinese historiography.


Modern Chinese history
Chinese Politics and Society
Chinese Thought and Ideology
Comparative History and Historiography
History and Literature
East Asian History

His research, teaching and translating focus on the recent history of China, especially the role of Chinese intellectuals in the twentieth century and the history of the Chinese Communist Party.

His historical scholarship comes out of the “China centred” turn in the 1980s with a strong focus on inductive research on Chinese contexts, rather than testing comparable theories of modernization or post modernism. However, he has found Thomas Bender’s approach to “cultures of intellectual life,” or communities of discourse, to be very helpful. In recent years Cheek shifted from “working on China” to “working with China” and has been working with some Chinese colleagues to explore avenues of communication across our social-cultural divides in order to address the problems of global change that confront us all, particularly problems of environment.



"The Intellectual in Modern Chinese History,"(NY: Cambridge University Press, 2015)

"Mao's Road to Power: Revoluntionary Writings, 1912-1949," Vol. VIII: 1942-August 1945, co-editor with Stuart R. Schram (London: Routledge, Jul. 2015)

"Mao’s Road to Power: Revolutionary Writings, 1912-1949," Vol. VIII, co-editor with Stuart R. Schram (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, Jan. 2015)

"A Criticial Introduction to Mao" (NY: Cambridge University Press, 2010)

"China since 1989: Living with Reform" (London: Zed Books, 2006)

"Mao Zedong and China's Revolutions: A Brief History with Documents" (Boston: Bedford Books, 2002)

"Small Well Lane: A Drama and History," by Li Longyun, co-translated and co-edited with Jiang Hong (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002)

"Market Economics and Political Change: Comparing China and Mexico", edited with Juan Lindau (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 1998)

"Propaganda and Culture in Mao’s China: Deng Tuo and the Intelligentsia" (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997)

"New Perspectives on State Socialism in China," edited with Tony Saich (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1997)

"The Secret Speeches of Chairman Mao: From the Hundred Flowers to the Great Leap Forward," edited with Roderick MacFarquhar & Eugene Wu (Cambridge: Harvard Council on East Asian Studies, 1989)

"China's Intellectuals and the State: In Search of a New Relationship," edited with Merle Goldman & Carol Hamrin (Cambridge, MA.: Harvard Council on East Asian Studies, Contemporary China Series, No. 3, 1987).

"China's Establishment Intellectuals," edited with Carol Hamrin (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1986).

Articles & book chapters: (selected)

 “Establishment Intellectuals,” in Oxford Bibliographies in Chinese Studies. Ed. Tim Wright. New York: Oxford University Press, July 2015.

Citizen Intellectuals in Historical Perspective: Reflections on Callahan’s ‘Citizen Ai’”, Journal of Asian Studies, 73:4 (Nov. 2014), 921-25.

"Chinese Socialism as Vernacular Cosmopolitanism," Frontiers of History in China, vol. 9:1 (March, 2014), 2-28. 

"Mao and Maoism," essay in The [Oxford] Handbook of Communism,  Stephen A. Smith, ed. (Oxford University Press, Jan. 2014), pp. 90-115.

"The Importance of Revolution as an historical topic," Journal of Modern Chinese History, Vol. 7:2, (Dec., 2013), 250-53.

"Of Leaders and Governance: How the Chinese Dragon Got Its Scales," a review essay on Ezra Vogel, Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China (Harvard, 2011), in Cross-Currents: East-Asian History and Culture Review, No 2 (March, 2012).

"Shengshi, Chinese Values and Han Yu," in China Heritage Quarterly (Australian National University), No. 26 (June 2011)

“The Worlds of China’s Intellectuals,” in China In and Beyond the Headlines, eds. Lionel Jensen and Timothy Weston (Lanhan, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, in press for 2012).

“The End of Intellectuals: 60 Years of Service, Subversion, and Selling in China,” in William C. Kirby, ed., The People’s Republic of China at 60: An International Assessment (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2011), 339-56.

The Multiple Mao’s of Contemporary China,” Harvard Asia Quarterly, XI:2-3 (Spring/Summer 2008), 14-25.

“The Karaoke Classics: A View from Inside China’s Confucian Revival,” Literary Review of Canada, 16:9 (Nov. 2008), 25-26.

"Xu Jilin and the Thought Work of China's Public Intellectuals," The China Quarterly, No. 186 (June. 2006), 401-20.

The Names of Rectification: Notes on the Conceptual Domains of CCP Ideology in the Yan’an Rectification Movement,” Indiana East Asian Working Paper Series on Language and Politics in Modern China (1996), 1-42.


Chinese Propaganda in Historical Perspective: Five Terms to Consider,” China Policy Institute Blog (University of Nottingham) 11 May, 2015

Hard Days for China’s Public Intellectuals Will Likely Get Harder,” Asia Pacific Memo (UBC), 14 April 2011

A Critical Introduction to Mao” (text & video), Asia Pacific Memo (UBC), 3 November 2010

China’s Directed Public Receives Nobel Peace Prize" (text & video), Asia Pacific Memo (UBC), 8 Oct. 2010
"The ‘Directed Public Sphere’ of China’s Public Intellectuals,” Asia Pacific Memo (UBC), 19 August 2010 

            Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada detabe on "Is China’s Collapse Really Inevitable?", March 16, 2015

            TVO Roundtable on China's Changing Leadership, April 5, 2012      

            CTV interview, 5 Feb. 2011

            "China's Nobel Laureate," Here On Earth: Radio Without Borders, October 19, 2010


Mandarin Chinese, spoken and written for translating.             
Classical Chinese, for research.          
Japanese, reading for research.     

His complete academic vitae can be accessed here

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