Institute of American History & Culture

Date  Oct 22, 2020

The Institute of American History and Culture of Nankai University, the alma mater of the late premier Zhou En-lai, has its origin in the American History Research Section established in 1964 as the first of its kind in China. Professor Yang Shengmao and Professor Zhang Youlun, the two founders of the Institute, are leading scholars in the field of American history in the country.  Professor Yang is also one of the international contributing editors of The Journal of American History. Presently there are eight faculty members at the Institute: four professors, three associate professors, and one lecturer. Their teaching and research cover various areas of American history, with an emphasis on early American history, social movements, labor history, race relations, economic history, political institutions and diplomatic history.

Since the early 1980s, the faculty members of the Institute have published 38 monographs, 6 resources anthologies, 3 reference books, 13 translations and over 200 articles. The major publications include: A New Interpretation of American History (by Yang Shengmao and Lu Jingsheng); A History of American Foreign Policy (by Yang Shengmao); Social Transformation and Labor Movement in the United States (by Zhang Youlun); Human Rights Politics in America: Theory and Practice in Historical Perspective (by Lu Jingsheng); The Frontier of Cultures: Cultural Conquest and Indian-White Relations in American History (by Li Jianming); Laying the Foundation of the United States, 1585-1775 (by Li Jianming); A Synoptic History of U.S.-Canadian Relations (by Yang Lingxia); Canadian-U.S. Relations in the Post-World War II Period (by Yang Lingxia): The United States and China during the Korean War (by Zhao Xuegong); Contemporary American Diplomacy (by Zhao Xuegong): W. E. B. Du Bois: The Quest for the Abolition of the Color Line (by Zhang Juguo). Many of these books are frequently cited by Chinese scholars and used as reference works by Chinese students of American history.

The Institute initiated a graduate program in American history in 1981 and a Ph.D. program in 1984 and, as a result, has become the first institution in the country to grant both M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in American history. Each year the Institute enrolls 3-4 Ph.D. and 8-10 M.A. students from all over the country. The major courses offered for the graduate students include “Early America”, “Nineteenth Century America”, “Twentieth Century America”, “History of American Social Movements”, “History of American Race Relations”, “American Economic History”, “American Diplomatic History”, “History of Canada-U.S. Relations”, and “History of Sino-U.S. Relations”, etc. Since the founding of the Institute more than 70 students have graduated with M.A. degrees and more than 20 with doctoral degrees, all in American history. Some of them are now in the United States to pursue their further study or research. Some others are working in the colleges and other academic institutions all over the country, imparting their knowledge of American history and culture to their students. Many former graduates have become prominent scholars and are playing an important role in the field of American history in the country, such as Wang Lixin at Beijing University, Ren Donglai at Johns Hopkins-Nanjing Center for Chinese-American Studies, and Wang Xiaode at Nankai University.

 Since 1980 the Institute has conducted extensive academic exchanges with international scholars and institutions. Each year, the Institute hosts quite a few guest lecturers from the United States and other countries. Since 1980 over thirty scholars from the United States and other countries have visited the Institute, and donated books to our library. Among them are Philip S. Foner, Herbert Gutman, Michael Kammen, Leon Litwack, E. P. Thompson, Oscar Handlin, Thomas Paterson, Mary Beth Norton, Michael Hunt, and Eric Foner.  Professor Eric Foner has also been appointed as a guest professor at Nankai University.

Due to the Institute’s significant position as a major center for American history research in China, the secretariat of the American History Research Association of China—the largest organization for Chinese scholars in this field—was located at the Institute from 1990 to 2002. Professor Li Jianming, the Director of the Institute, served as the secretary general of the Association for six years, and was elected President of the Association in 2002.

The major goal of the Institute is to continue to play a leading role in American history research in China, and to have a mutually rewarding collaborative relationship with international institutions and scholars in the field of American history. Visiting scholars, donated books and other forms of help are always welcome. We are going to make continuous efforts to achieve this goal in the twenty-first century. If you are interested in our programs, and want further information, please contact:


Dr. Zhao Xuegong, Acting Director

Institute of American History and Culture

College of History

Nankai University

Tianjin 300071

P. R. China