Michael Szonyi

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Michael A. Szonyi (Chinese: 宋怡明; pinyin: Sòng Yímíng; born May 18, 1967) is Professor of Chinese History at Harvard University and the director of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies. His research focuses on the local history of southeast China, especially in the Ming dynasty, the history of Chinese popular religion, and Overseas Chinese history. He is currently studying the social history of the Ming Dynasty military. Szonyi has traced local cults from the Ming Dynasty and has found that some of these cults continue to exist. He hopes that his research on these traditions can help historians better understand the role of religion in establishing local social orders.[1]


Szonyi received his BA from the University of Toronto and his D.Phil from the University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. After completing his doctorate, he worked at McGill University, but soon returned to his hometown to get married and teach at the University of Toronto, where he received tenure in 2002. Szonyi came to Harvard in 2005, and was named John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Humanities in 2007 and Professor of Chinese History in 2009. Today he splits his time between Cambridge and London, Ontario, where his wife, Francine McKenzie, is a professor of international relations at the University of Western Ontario.[2] Professor Szonyi was appointed director of Harvard's Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies in 2015.


  • The Cold War in Asia: The Battle for Hearts and Minds. Brill, 2010. (Co-edited with Zheng Yangwen and Liu Hong)
  • Cold War Island: Quemoy on the Front Line. Cambridge University Press, 2008.
  • Ming-Qing Fujian Wudi xinyang ziliao huibian (Documents on the Cult of the Five Emperors in Fujian in Ming and Qing). Hong Kong University of Science and Technology South China Research Centre, 2006.
  • Practicing Kinship: Lineage and Descent in Late Imperial China. Stanford University Press, 2002.
  • Zheng Zhenman, Family and Lineage Organization and Social Change in Ming-Qing Fujian, translated and with an introduction by Michael Szonyi. University of Hawai'i Press, 2001.


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