Yanshuo Zhang

Assistant Professor of Asian Languages and Literatures
With Pomona Since: 2023
  • Expertise


    Yanshuo Zhang is an interdisciplinary scholar of Chinese and Asian cultures whose research lies at the intersections of literature, anthropology, visual culture and history. Her current book manuscript, under contract with the University of Michigan Press, will be one of the first English-language scholarly monographs on the creative cultures produced by China’s ethnic minorities (shaoshu minzu). Her work expands the current scholarship and teaching about China in North America by bringing ethnic minorities and cultural diversity to the forefront of understanding Chinese society and history.

    Drawing on many years of ethnographic fieldwork in the Qiang and Tibetan ethnic regions in the Himalayas, Zhang combines literary and historical archival research with anthropological theories and methodologies to illustrate how minority identities are formed within China’s globalizing economy. She is committed to bridging Chinese studies with global multicultural studies. She develops theories of “indigeneity” to understand Chinese minority writers’ and artists’ connections to international cultural movements, such as Native American and Latin American indigenous literatures and visual practices.

    Zhang translates and analyzes many previously understudied literary works, scholarly discourses, cinematic productions and grassroots cultural preservation efforts made by China’s ethnic groups in the Himalayan regions, particularly those created by the Qiang, one of the oldest ethnic entities in China. She is also passionate about community service. She has actively served the Asian and Asian American communities in California through organizing cultural events, curating art exhibitions at universities and in local galleries and promoting U.S.-China student art exchanges and projects.

    Research Interests

    In addition to her research on multiethnic Chinese cultures, Zhang’s study of ethnic minority discourses extends to Asian and Asian American visual cultures and the representation of “Chinese culture” globally, particularly in art museums and architectural environs. She has published articles about the urban transformations of Chinese cities and the role of creative industries and artistic imagination in refashioning the Chinese past in urbanization and globalization practices.

    Areas of Expertise

    • Multiethnic Chinese Studies
    • Ethnic Minorities of China
    • Visual Cultures
    • Global Multicultural Studies
    • Chinese language teaching
  • Work


    Scholarly Articles and Book Chapters

    “Teaching Ethnic Minority Film: Visualizing Multicultural China and Engaging Multidisciplinary Methodologies.” Accepted in Teaching Film from the People’s Republic of China, Modern Language Association (MLA). Forthcoming 2023.

    “Transforming the ‘Barbarian’ Margins into Multiethnic National Centers: Photographic Reportage and Ethnic Imagination in Republican-era China.” Accepted in Contesting Reportage: New Perspectives from the Sinophone World, edited by Charles A. Laughlin and Li Guo.

    "Entrepreneurs of the National Past: The Discourse of Ethnic Indigeneity and Indigenous Cultural Writing in China." Published in positions: asia critique (Duke University Press), May 2021.

    “Shen Congwen’s Idealized Ethnic: Borderland, Ethnicity, and the Spiritual Enchantments of a Modern Master.” Commissioned for a special issue on Chinese Literature across Borderlands for Prism: Theory and Modern Chinese Literature (journal by Duke University Press). Special issue edited by David Der-wei Wang. Published October 2021.

    “A Good Wife is the Crown of Her Husband:' Gender and Women in Biblical and Traditional Chinese Proverbs." Published in China-U.S. Journal of Humanities, 2020.

    “Tricking Memory, Remaking the City: Trompe l’oeil and the Visual Transformation of a Historic City in China: Chengdu.” Published in Journal of Urban Cultural Studies, 2019.

    “Negotiating Authenticity in China’s Urban Historic Preservations: the Case of the Kuan and Zhai Alleys in Chengdu.” Published in Heritage and Society (journal by Taylor and Francis), 2019.

    “Between Representation and Repression: The Photography of San Francisco’s Historical Chinatown and the Visual Politics of Representing the Racial Other.” Published in Stanford Journal of Asian American Studies, 2019.

    Book Reviews

    Invited book review for Memory in Folk Epics of China: The Intimate and the Local in Chinese Regional Culture by Anne E. McLaren. Scheduled for Journal of Asian Studies.

    Invited book review for Sinophone Utopias: Exploring Futures Beyond the China Dream edited by Andrea Riemenschnitter, Jessica Imbach, and Justyna Jaguscik. Scheduled for Modern Chinese Literature and Culture.

    Invited book review for Mystifying China’s Southwest Ethnic Borderlands: Harmonious Heterotopia. Published in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, 2019.

  • Education


    Ph.D., East Asian Languages and Cultures, Stanford University

    B.A., English and French, summa cum laude, St. Catherine University (Minnesota)

  • Awards & Honors

    Awards & Honors

    Special U.S. Congressional Recognition for Outstanding and Invaluable Service to the Community

    Asian American Women’s Alliance Leadership Award

    Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Center for Chinese Studies (International Institute),

    University of Michigan

    China Times Cultural Foundation Young Scholar Award

    Research Fellowship, French Ministry of Culture and Communication and France-Stanford Center for Interdisciplinary Studies

    Dissertation Fellowship Award, Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange (Taiwan)

    Dissertation Fellowship Award, Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, Stanford University