Philip A. Kuhn

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Philip A. Kuhn
Born September 9, 1933
Citizenship United States United States
Nationality United States United States
Fields Qing history
Overseas Chinese history
Institutions University of Chicago
Harvard University
Alma mater Harvard University
Georgetown University
Doctoral advisor John King Fairbank
Doctoral students Timothy Brook, Prasenjit Duara, William C. Kirby, Hans van de Ven, Arthur Waldron

Philip A. Kuhn (Chinese name: simplified Chinese: 孔飞力, 孔复礼; traditional Chinese: 孔飛力, 孔復禮; pinyin: Kǒng Fēilì, born September 9, 1933) is an American academic, sinologist and the Francis Lee Higginson Professor of History and of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Emeritus, at Harvard University.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Kuhn is the elder son of Ferdinand and Delia Kuhn, to whom he dedicated his first book. Ferdinand Kuhn, Jr. had been bureau chief of the London Office of the New York Times and later served at the Washington Post. Delia Kuhn was a writer who served as information director of the Office of Community War Services during World War II.[2]

Kuhn attended Woodrow Wilson High School and then received his A.B. from Harvard College. Later he received his M.A. from Georgetown University, and Ph.D. in History and East Asian Languages at Harvard University, where his dissertation advisor was John K. Fairbank. He enlisted in the United States Army, serving from 1955–1958. He married Sally Cheng (程吾) in the 1960s and had one son, Anthony Kuhn, the American journalist and current NPR correspondent.[3] bad link That marriage dissolved in 1980. He also had a daughter, Deborah W. Kuhn, with his second and now former wife Mary L. Smith. source?

Academic career[edit]

Kuhn taught at the University of Chicago from 1963 to 1978[1] where he attained the rank of Associate Professor in the Department of History. While at Chicago, Kuhn published in 1970 Rebellion and its Enemies in Late Imperial China: Militarization and Social Structure, 1796-1864 as part of the Harvard East Asian monograph series, which led to his being granted tenure and a full professorship. Three of Kuhn's numerous graduate students at the University of Chicago received doctorates but none continued in academics. However, Kuhn's prominent student, Prasenjit Duara, began his studies with Kuhn at Chicago before following him to Harvard.

In 1978 Kuhn returned to Harvard, where he succeeded his teacher John King Fairbank.[4]

In 1980-1986, Kuhn served as director of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies.[5]

A pioneer of social history in Chinese history, Kuhn also helped re-examine the "impact-response" school of Western scholarship on China. Frederic Wakeman in a review in The New York Review of Books described Kuhn as "one of the West's premier China historians."[6] His students hold professorships at universities in Asia, North America, and Europe. Among the most prominent are: Prasenjit Duara, formerly at University of Chicago, now the National University of Singapore; Timothy Brook, the Principal of St. John's College at University of British Columbia; Man-houng Lin, first female president of Academia Historica and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica; Cynthia Brokaw, Professor of History, Brown University; Timothy Cheek, Louis Cha Chair in Chinese Research and Director, Centre for Chinese Research at University of British Columbia; William C. Kirby, the former Dean of the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences; Hans van de Ven, head of the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge; and Karl Gerth, Professor of History and Hwei-Chih and Julia Hsiu Endowed Chair in Chinese Studies at UC San Diego.

Selected works[edit]

In a statistical overview derived from writings by and about Philip Kuhn, OCLC/WorldCat encompasses roughly 30+ works in 90+ publications in 7 languages and 2,900+ library holdings.[7] Kuhn published numerous articles and five books, as well as chapters in Cambridge History of China.

  • Rebellion and its Enemies in Late Imperial China: Militarization and Social Structure, 1796-1864 (1970)
  • 中华帝国晚期的叛乱及其敌人: 1796-1864年的军事化与社会結构 (1970)
  • Introduction to Chʻing Documents (1986)
  • Soulstealers: The Chinese Sorcery Scare of 1768 (1990)
  • National Polity and Local Power: The Transformation of Late Imperial China (1990), with Timothy Brook and Min Tu-ki
  • The Homeland: Thinking About the History of Chinese Overseas (1997)
  • Origins of the modern Chinese State (1999)
  • 叫魂 (2000)
  • Chinese Among Others (2009).


  1. ^ a b Harvard University Extension School, Philip A. Kuhn; retrieved 2011-05-09,
  2. ^ "Delia W. Kuhn, Writer, 86," New York Times (US). December 19, 1989; retrieved 2011-05-09.
  3. ^ "Asian History Carnival #14 (Straight Outta Beijing...)," Jottings from the Granite Studio (blog), May 15, 2007; retrieved 2011-05-09.
  4. ^ Hays, Laurie. "Kuhn to Teach China Courses Next Year," Harvard Crimson (US). April 5, 1978; retrieved 2011-05-09.
  5. ^ Suleski, Ronald Stanley. (2005). The Fairbank Center for East Asian Research at Harvard University, p. 75.
  6. ^ Wakeman, Frederic. "That Old Chinese Black Magic," New York Review of Books (US). May 16, 1991; retrieved 2011-05-09.
  7. ^ WorldCat Identities: Kuhn, Philip A.