Melissa J. Brown, a sociocultural anthropologist of China and Taiwan, is a senior research associate at the Minnesota Population Center at the University of Minnesota who is interested in historical processes of transformative social and cultural change. Her research examines demography; ethnic identity; gender, labor, and development; migration; and nationalism.
At Radcliffe, Brown will collaborate with Laurel Bossen and Hill Gates to complete a book on female labor and footbinding in early 20th-century China. This book—which will examine the labor contributions of rural Chinese women when modern industry, transportation, and trade undermined commercial production by women in rural households—will draw on interviews with thousands of elderly rural women in more than 10 Chinese provinces where the patterns of female labor and footbinding have been little studied.
Brown received her BA and MA from Stanford University and her PhD from the University of Washington. She has won awards from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and Stanford University′s Presidential Fund for Innovation in International Studies and fellowships from Stanford University′s Institute for Research in the Social Sciences and the University of California at Berkeley′s Center for Chinese Studies. She has taught at National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Washington, and Stanford University. Her publications include Is Taiwan Chinese? The Impact of Culture, Power, and Migration on Changing Identities (University of California Press, 2004) and Explaining Culture Scientifically (University of Washington Press, 2008).