Shana J. Brown

Director, UHM Honors Program
Associate Professor, History
China: Twentieth-Century, Intellectual and Cultural

Office: Bio Medical Buidling, T-705 (Honors), Sakamaki B404 (History)
Phone: (808) 956-5404 (Honors), (808) 956-7151 (History)

Student advising appointments: go here

BA Amherst College, 1993; PhD California, Berkeley, 2003


Shana J. Brown is Director of the Honors Program and Associate Professor of History at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Dr. Brown is a historian of science and culture in Asia, particularly modern China. Her research and teaching bring the sciences and humanities in conversation, foregrounding the contributions of Asian intellectuals, especially women, to modern science and academic life. Her goal is to build awareness and appreciation for the ethnic and gender diversity that underlays the many positive transformations of our modern world.

As a predoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, Dr. Brown began to research the values and practices of Asian visual culture and science, including how Chinese philosophical concepts regarding empiricism, humanism, and authenticity intersected with Western scientific practice. The result was her first book, Pastimes (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2011), which focuses on the emergence of modern Chinese social science in the early 20th century.

Dr. Brown is now underway on two research projects. The first focuses on women intellectuals in modern China, examining the contributions of artists, scientists, writers, and social thinkers from the early 1800’s to today. She is also working on a book project on the technology and political uses of photography in wartime China.

More recently she has begun a new project on the history of infectious disease in the context of US-China relations. This project has developed out of her recent development of the popular course HIST 156: World History of Human Disease. Focusing on how disease is a social, political, and cultural event, the class brings a transnational and comparative viewpoint to examine the transformative potential of infectious disease in our collective imagining of a better future.

Teaching Fields / Course Offerings

  • HON 496 (Honors Capstone) and HON 494 (Honors Workshop)
  • World History of Human Disease
  • World Cultures in Perspective: 1500 to the Present
  • People’s Republic of China
  • Twentieth-Century China
  • Chinese Intellectual History
  • China’s Foreign Relations
  • Women in East Asian History
  • Historical Theory and Methods
  • Graduate Seminar in Chinese Historical Literature (bibliography and primary-source readings)
  • Graduate Seminar in Modern Chinese History (English-language literature review)

Selected Publications

  • Pastimes: From Art and Antiquarianism to Modern Chinese Historiography (University of Hawaiʻi Press, 2011)
  • “China’s ‘First’ Female Archaeologists: Rong Yuan, Zhou Yingxue, Zeng Zhaoyu, and Zheng Zhenxiang.” Women Across Asian Art: Selected Essays in Art & Material Culture, ed. Tongyun Yin and Ling-en Lu. Gainesville: David A. Cofrin Asian Art Manuscript Series, University of Florida Press (in preparation, 2023)
  • “Xia Lingyi, A Female Painter in 19th Century China,” in Bruce MacLaren, ed., When Art Met History: A Symposium on the Richard Fabian Collection, Bonhams (2022): 132-161
  • “Antiquarianism and Sino-Japanese Rivalry: Yang Shoujing in Meiji Japan,” The Role of Japan in Modern Chinese Art, ed. Joshua Fogel. Berkeley: University of California (2013): 69-83
  • “Teaching Ai Weiwei in Context,” Asian Studies Development Program Alumni Newsletter 9:1 (April, 2013): 5-6.
  • “Luo Zhenyu and the Predicament of Republican Period Antiques Collecting.” Lost Generation: Luo Zhenyu, Qing Loyalists and the Formation of Modern Chinese Culture, ed. Chia-Ling Yang and Roderick Whitfield. London: Saffron Books (2012): 58-73
  • “Sha Fei, the Jin-Cha-Ji Pictorial, and the Documentary Style of Chinese Wartime Photojournalism.” History in Images: Picture and Public Space in Modern China, ed. Christian Henriot and Wen-hsin Yeh. Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies China Research Monograph 66 (2012): 55-80
  • “Chinese Women as Collectors and Bibliophiles at the Turn-of-the-Century,” Material Women: Consuming Desires and Collecting Objects, 1770-1950, ed. Beth Fowkes Tobin and Maureen Daly Goggin (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009): 279-294.
  • “Archives at the Margins: Luo Zhenyu’s Qing Documents and Nationalism in Republican China,” The Politics of Historical Production in Late Qing and Republican China, ed. Robert Culp and Tze-ki Hon (Leiden: Brill, 2007): 249-270.