I am particularly interested in imperialism, the global ascendance of science, and how changes in the uses and exploitation of natural resources affected the modern Chinese state and society. My first book, Empires of Coal: Fueling China’s Entry into the Modern World Order, narrates the history about how Chinese views of natural resource management underwent a major change as a result of the late Qing engagement with imperialism and science. Each chapter addresses a different facet of this change in worldview and as a whole demonstrate that by the end of the nineteenth century China and the West had converged in a crucial measure of modern, industrialized states: the theory and exploitation of natural resources, particularly fossil fuels. I talk about the book in an interview for the New Books Network here: http://newbooksineastasianstudies.com/2015/08/25/shellen-wu-empires-of-coal-fueling-chinas-entry-into-the-modern-world-order-1860-1920-stanford-up-2015/
Part of my research on the German geographer Ferdinand von Richthofen and his China expeditions appeared in the American Historical Review. “The Search for Coal in the Age of Empires: Ferdinand von Richthofen’s Odyssey in China, 1860-1920,” The American Historical Review, Vol. 119, No. 2 (April 2014), 339-362.
I am currently working on a second book on the rise of geopolitical discourse in twentieth century China. My book project traces the historical roots of geopolitical discourse in China and connects Chinese geopolitical concerns to the global circulation of ideas on agricultural development, land settlement, and frontiers. For the 2016-2017 academic year, I am the Pforzheimer Fellow at the National Humanities Center.
Modern Chinese History, History of Science, Global History
Ph.D. Princeton University
B.A. in History Literature, Harvard University
- Empires of Coal: Fueling China’s Entry into the Modern World Order, 1860-1919 (Weatherhead East Asian Institute Publication series, Stanford University Press, April 2015).
- “Global Frontiers and the Geopolitical Making of Modern China,” tentative title for new book project.
- “Killing Science: War, Empire and Science in the Making of the Modern Chinese State,” tentative title for second new book project.
- “The Search for Coal in the Age of Empires: Ferdinand von Richthofen’s Odyssey in China, 1860-1920,” The American Historical Review, Vol. 119, No. 2 (April 2014), 339-362.
- “Mining the Way to Wealth and Power: The Late Qing Reforms of Mining Law, 1895-1911,” The International History Review, Vol. 32, Issue 3 (September 2012), 581-599.
- “From Berlin to Nanjing: German Geography and the Globalization of Geopolitics, 1900-1949,” Joanne Cho and David Crowe ed., Transcultural Encounters between Germany and China, 1780s to 2000 (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming).
- Book Review: Elizabeth Perry. Anyuan: Mining China’s Revolutionary Tradition. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012. Frontiers of History in China, Vol. 9, No.1 (Mar.2014), 159-162.
- Book Review: Grace Shen. Unearthing the Nation: Modern Geology and Nationalism in Republican China. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science (forthcoming).