Dr Daniel Knorr

Temporary Assistant Professor in Modern Asian History

My research and teaching focus on the early modern and modern periods of Chinese history, particularly the relationship between local communities and the state, urban history, and translocal mobility. World historical perspectives are an important component of both my teaching and my research, shaping how I look at historical problems through a comparative framework and how I examine global currents and local and narratives in light of each other.

I received my PhD from the University of Chicago and worked as a Teaching Fellow in the Social Sciences there in 2020. I hold master’s degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of California, Irvine and completed my undergraduate study at Johns Hopkins University. I also attended the Inter-University Program for Chinese language study in 2010–11. I received a Fulbright fellowship to support research in China in 2016–17.

The core topics of my research are the durability and dynamism of senses of place over time and how the ways in which people relate to specific places contribute to the formation of larger political identities (empires and nation-states). Because I consider both place-making and state-formation to be multi-faceted processes, my research combines elements of political, social, and cultural history. I have particular interests in urban history, theories of empire and state-formation, and the regional history of north China.

My first book project, which is based on my dissertation, is a study of urban society and political institutions in Jinan, a provincial capital in north China, during the Qing Dynasty. One of the key findings of my research is that Jinan’s connections to other places were very important to both the city’s social structures and the identity of its elite. This is somewhat surprising since it wasn’t a major commercial center, as most of the cities that have received a great deal of attention from historians were. Instead, Jinan’s cosmopolitanism largely owed to its place in the Qing administrative system, which circulated people from all over the empire through the city. This makes it impossible to analyze the conditions of local society apart from the operation of the state. Likewise, I argue that we should understand a variety of placemaking activities that spilled beyond the confines of the government as constitutive of the state, not subversive of or external to it. I argue that the relationship between placemaking and state-building we see in Jinan was indicative of a hybrid form of imperial and national state-building under the Qing that was, at least locally, surprisingly durable into the early twentieth century.

I am also beginning work on two book projects related more broadly to the place of north China in the political culture of early modern and modern China. The first is a history of the Qing conquest from the perspective of north China. My interests lie in three areas. First, the place of the conquest in the broader context of the later imperial period, which saw north China governed successively by a mix of Chinese and other dynasties and, at one point (under the Jurchen Jin Dynasty) separately from southern China. Second, immediate experiences of and reactions to the Qing conquest in north China, particularly the history of resistance and collaboration in the region and how it compared to the better-studied south. Finally, perceptions of north China in the wake of the conquest and their relationship to the regional distribution of institutions like academies and customs like footbinding. The second north China-related project I am working on is focused on the relationship between the region and the emergence of modern Chinese conservatism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. In both projects I am interested in examining the interrelationship between imperial and national state-building and forms of local, regional, and interregional political identities over the early modern and modern periods.

As a member of the World History subject group, I provide lectures and supervisions for both Paper 21 and Paper 23. I also contribute to teaching in undergraduate options and the MPhil in World History.

Member, American Historical Association; Member, Association for Asian Studies; Member, Global Urban History Project

I am glad to hear from undergraduate and prospective MPhil students interested in researching the history of early modern or modern China or aspects of world history related to my research interests.

Articles and chapters

"Fragile Bulwark: The Qing State in Jinan during the Taiping and Nian Wars," Late Imperial China (forthcoming)

"Placing the American State in the Interior of China: The Jinan Missionary Case, 1881–1891," The Pacific Historical Review 90, no. 3 (2021): 279–313.

“Debating China’s Destiny: Writing the Nation’s Past and Future in Wartime China” in 1943: China at the Crossroads, ed. Joseph Esherick and Matthew Combs (Cornell East Asia Program, 2015), pp. 168–202. Translated by Chen Xiao as “Bianlun Zhongguo zhi mingyun: zai kangzhan shiqi shuxie Zhonghua minzu de guoqu he weilai,” in 1943: Zhongguo zai shizi lukou (Shehui kexue wenxian chubanshe, 2016; Chinese University of Hong Kong Press, 2017).

Online publications

“Teach Like You Write,” Inside Higher Ed, Gradhacker, November 9, 2018. https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/gradhacker/teach-you-write.

“Isn’t That Just Ancient History?” #AsiaNow, June 27, 2018. http://www.asian-studies.org/asia-now/entryid/157.

“After 50 Years, ‘Marketing and Social Structure in Rural China’ Remains a China Studies Classic,” #AsiaNow, May 17, 2018. http://www.asian-studies.org/asia-now/entryid/149.

“A Conference on Chinese Cities in World History,” Global Urban History Blog, July 4, 2017. https://globalurbanhistory.com/2017/07/04/a-conference-on-chinese-cities-in-world-history/.

“The President Elect and the Generalissimo,” Los Angeles Review of Books Blog, The China Blog, November 23, 2016. http://blog.lareviewofbooks.org/chinablog/‌‌president-elect-generalissimo/.

“The Internet and China’s Response to the Japan Earthquake,” The China Beat: Blogging How the East is Read, April 25, 2011. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1857&context=chinabeatarchive.