Professor of Chinese History, East Asian Languages and Civilizations
Michael Szonyi is Professor of Chinese History and Chair of the Committee on Regional Studies of East Asia. A native of Canada, he received his doctorate from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He has also studied at National Taiwan University and Xiamen University. He is a specialist in the history of the Ming dynasty (fourteenth to seventeenth centuries) but he also writes about contemporary China. When he is not in the classroom, he spends much of his time in Chinese villages, collecting documents, interviewing elderly people and observing rituals in order to understand the traces that the past leaves in the present.
His most recent book Cold War Island: Quemoy on the Front Line is a study of everyday life on a small island in the Taiwan Strait. He is the editor of the forthcoming Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Chinese History and is currently completing a book about the lives of Ming soldiers.
Michael has been travelling in China for more than thirty-years. He’s hitchhiked across Tibet and Xinjiang, biked to the Burmese border (by mistake) and lived in a haunted house in Taiwan.
Michael is married to Francine Mckenzie; they spent their honeymoon in rural Mongolia. They have two children who luckily also like to travel.