Shirley Ye


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Previous MA thesis topics that I have co-supervised include Sino-British economic relations and a comparative study of Roman imperial cults and Japanese overseas shrines.

I welcome inquiries from students on PhD supervision on China, East Asia, and the wider world in any time period. Current PhD topics I am co-supervising include postcolonial urban architecture and memory in Hong Kong (funded by AHRC Midlands 3 Cities Consortium), and the public history and memory of World War Two in China.

Dr Ye would be happy to offer postgraduate supervision on any aspect of modern China.


Research activity per year

Personal profile

Research interests

I research the history of China, with a focus on tensions between environmental conservation and economic development through the lens of state-society relations. My research looks at the interplay between traditional and modern techniques and management of hydraulic projects in China's treaty ports, the Grand Canal, the Yangzi River, and in the Guanzhong region of Shaanxi during the early 20th century. Part of my training is in global history, in particular German and US history, and the historiographical debates of those fields inform my work in Chinese and global history. I am starting a research project about insurance and risk in China's global trade from the 18th century to the present.

Committed to multi-lingual and multi-archival research, I have worked in archives and libraries in China, Taiwan, USA, Germany, Britain, and France.

My research has been supported by major national and international funding awards. In 2014, I was awarded the British Academy / Leverhulme Small Research Grant. My past awards include the Fulbright-IIE, DAAD, Fulbright-Hays DDRA, and the Taiwan Fellowship by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

I have been invited to discuss my research with audiences in China, Taiwan, Germany, Norway, the United States, and Britain. I have been a Visiting Scholar at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, the Department of History at Peking University, and the Institute of Modern History at Academia Sinica.


Born in Hong Kong to parents from Sichuan, China, and raised in the suburbs of Los Angeles, California, I joined the History faculty at the University of Birmingham in 2013 after my completing my PhD at Harvard University. My first book project Engineering the Environment examines the new institutionalization and knowledge production of water control during the late imperial and modern periods. 

In my spare time, I like reading novels and taking walks with my husband and little boy.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


Dive into the research topics where Shirley Ye is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • 1 Similar Profiles