Chinese Studies


Dr. Dror Kochan

Department of Asian Studies, Chinese Studies
Office Hours: Monday, by appointment


Dr. Orna Naftali

Senior Lecturer, China Section
Director, The Louis Frieberg Center for East Asian Studies
Office Hours (2021-22): First semester: Wed., 12:15-13:15; Second semester: Wed., 11:00-12:00. Room 6338 Humanities

Research interests: Anthropology of modern and contemporary China, with a focus on children, youth, and education; women, gender, and the family; science and subjectivity; national identity, militarism, and the nation-state; rights and legal consciousness of children and youth in China. 

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I completed a BA in East Asian Studies with a China emphasis (The Hebrew University); an MA in Culture Research (Tel Aviv University); and an MA and a PhD in Anthropology (University of California, Santa Barbara). Straddling the disciplines of China Studies, Cultural Studies, and Anthropology, my work covers a range of topics relating to children, youth and education in China, including: the globalization of Chinese education; the interplay between changes in notions and practices of childrearing and education and the emergence of new conceptualizations of play, privacy and subjectivity in China; the rise of child psychology in contemporary urban China; and the development of a new Chinese discourse on children's rights and children's citizenship, a topic which was the focus of my first book, Children, Rights, and Modernity in China: Raising Self-Governing Citizens (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). 

My second book, Children in China (2016, China Today series, Polity Press), provides an overview of the dramatic changes that have taken place in the lives of rural and urban Chinese children since the launch of economic reforms in 1978. Covering schooling, consumption, identity formation processes, family and peer relations among other aspects of children’s lives, the book explores the rise of new ideas of child-care, child-vulnerability and child-agency; the impact of the One-Child Policy; and the emergence of children as independent consumers in the new market economy.  It also demonstrates how economic restructuring and the recent waves of rural–urban migration have produced starkly unequal conditions for children’s education and welfare both in the countryside and in the cities.

I am currently working on a new book project on education, nationalism, and youth Militarization in the PRC. Drawing on government, media, and educational sources and on data from two ethnographic field projects conducted in China in 2012-2019, the book explores the promotion of military values and techniques in Chinese education of the 2010s, highlights the intersection between this trend and the construction of national collectivity, masculinities and femininities in contemporary China, and discusses Chinese youth current notions of war and the military.


Selected publications:

Naftali, Orna. 2021. "Celebrating Violence? Children, Youth, and War Education in Maoist China (1949-76)". Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth 14 (2): 254-273

Naftali, Orna. 2021."'Being Chinese Means Becoming Cheap Labour': Education, National Belonging, and Social Positionality among Youth in Contemporary China". The China Quarterly 245: 51–71

Naftali, Orna. 2020. "Youth Military Training in China: Learning to 'Love the Army'". Journal of Youth Studies. Published Online first, pp. 1-19. 10.1080/13676261.2020.1828847

Naftali, Orna. 2020. "'Life is Wonderful because of the Military': PLA Recruitment Campaigns in Contemporary China". In Brendan Maartens and Tom Bivins (eds.). Propaganda and Public Relations in Military Recruitment: Promoting Military Service in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries. Pp. 178-191. London: Routledge

Naftali, Orna. 2019. "Rights of Children and Youth in China: Protection, Provision, and Participation". In Sarah Biddulph and Joshua Rosenzweig (eds.). Handbook on Human Rights in China. Pp. 273-99. Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar 

Naftali, Orna. 2018. "'These War Dramas are like Cartoons': Education, Media Consumption, and Chinese Youth Attitudes towards Japan". Journal of Contemporary China 27 (113): 703-718

Naftali, Orna. 2016. Children in China (China Today Series). Cambridge, UK: Polity Press

Naftali, Orna. 2014. Children, Rights, and Modernity in China: Raising Self-Governing Citizens (Studies in Childhood and Youth). Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan

Naftali, Orna. 2014. "Chinese Childhood in Conflict: Children, Gender, and Violence in China of the 'Cultural Revolution' Period (1966-76)." Oriens Extremus 53: 85-110

Naftali, Orna. 2014. "Marketing War and the Military to Children and Youth in China: Little Red Soldiers in the Digital Age." China Information: A Journal on Contemporary China Studies 28 (1): 3-25

Teaching & Mentoring:

  • Teaching: At the Department of Asian Studies, I teach BA and MA courses on a range of issues related to Chinese culture and society, including: "Gender and Sexuality in the PRC"; "The State and the Family in Modern China"; "Class and Consumption in China; "The Anthropology of Contemporary Chinese Society"; “Internet and the Media in Contemporary China”; "Resistance and Protest in Contemporary China"; and "Research Methods of Modern Chinese Society and Politics".


  • Mentoring: I welcome inquiries from prospective MA and doctoral students interested in the following topics:

    • Children, childhood, and youth in the PRC (1949 to present)
    • Schooling and education in the PRC (1949 to present)
    • Anthropology of gender and the family in the PRC (1949 to present)
    • Popular nationalism in contemporary China
    • Militarization of childhood and youth in the PRC (1949 to present)
    • The rights of children and youth; youth legal consciousness in contemporary China


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Prof. Yuri Pines

Head of Department of Asian Studies
Traditional and modern Chinese history, early Chinese thought, China's political culture

Prof. Yuri Pines 尤銳 is Michael W. Lipson Professor of Asian Studies, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Guest Professor at Nankai University, Tianjin, China, and visiting professor at Beijing Normal University, China.

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His studies focus on early Chinese political thought, traditional Chinese political culture, origins of Chinese historiography, and sociopolitical history of pre-imperial China, particularly the state and empire of Qin. His major publications include The Everlasting Empire: Traditional Chinese Political Culture and Its Enduring Legacy (Princeton University Press, 2012); Envisioning Eternal Empire: Chinese Political Thought of the Warring States Era (University of Hawaii Press, 2009); Foundations of Confucian Thought: Intellectual Life in the Chunqiu Period, 722-453 B.C.E. (University of Hawaii Press, 2002). He co-authored (with Gideon Shelach and Yitzhak Shichor) 3-volumes All- under-Heaven: Imperial China (in Hebrew, Open University Press, 2011, 2013, forthcoming); co-edited together with Lothar von Falkenhausen, Gideon Shelach and Robin D.S. Yates the Birth of an Empire: The State of Qin revisited (University of California Press, 2014), and co-edited with Paul R. Goldin and Martin Kern the Ideology of Power and Power of Ideology in Early China (Brill, forthcoming 2015). In addition, he has several other edited and co-edited publications, and over 90 articles in scholarly journals and collected volumes.

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Dr. Avital Rom

Louis Frieberg Postdoctoral Fellow
Chinese Studies

Dr Rom is a Louis Frieberg Postdoctoral Fellow during the autumn-winter semester of the academic year 2021-22. She earned her BA in East Asian Studies (2013) from Tel-Aviv University; and her MPhil (2015) and PhD (2020) in Chinese Studies from the University of Cambridge. 

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Her research focuses on the social and political aspects of hearing, sound, and silence in early China (particularly the Warring States and Western Han periods). Her doctoral dissertation, titled Polyphonic Thinking: Music and Authority in Early China, examined the rhetorical and political functions of music in the Warring States (453-221 BCE) and Western Han (206 BCE – 9 CE) periods. Currently, she researches the social history of deafness in early China, and editing a volume on the history of disability in ancient China, titled Other Bodies: Disability and Bodily Impairment in Early China. She is also finalising the manuscript of a monograph based on her doctoral dissertation. 


Dr Rom has been teaching Classical Chinese at the University of Cambridge since 2016. This semester, she will be teaching an MA course titled ‘Music and Political Authority in Chinese History – From the Warring States to Early Medieval Times.’ Her publications include the articles ‘Echoing Rulership: Understanding Musical References in the Huainanzi’ (Early China, 2017) and ‘Beat the Drums or Break Them: Bells and Drums as Communication Devices in Early Chinese Warfare’ (Journal of Chinese Military History, 2020). 

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Prof. Gideon Shelach

Head of China Sector

Prof. Gideon Shelach is the Louis Freiberg Professor of East Asian Studies and the Chair of the Institute of African and Asian Studies, the Hebrew University.

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He hold a Ph.D. in archaeology from the University of Pittsburgh and since 1995 he is conducting archaeological field works in Northeast China. Currently he is heading the Fuxin Regional Archaeological Project in Liaoning province. Gideon published 8 books and more than 60 papers in leading academic journals (including Science, Antiquity, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology,Journal of Archaeological Science, and more, including academic journals in China). Among his recent books are: The Archaeology of China: From Prehistory to the Han Dynasty (Cambridge University Press, 2015); Prehistoric Societies on the Northern Frontiers of China: Archaeological Perspectives on Identity Formation and Economic Change during the First Millennium BCE (Equinox, 2009); Chifeng International Collaborative Archaeological Project (co-author, Pittsburgh 2011), The Birth of Empire: The State of Qin revisited (co-editor, University of California Press 2013).

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