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Faculty

Yunxiang Yan 阎云翔


Professor


Contact Information

Email    yan@anthro.ucla.edu
Office  366 Haines
Phone  310-267-4336
Unlike many of my academic colleagues, I followed a rather unusual path to become an anthropologist in the United States.

I was born in Beijing, China. In 1966, like some 200,000 other people nationwide I involuntarily became an impoverished villager when my family was expelled from the city to a remote village due to my father’s political opinions. In the same year I was forced to drop out of primary school and to work as a shepherd, farmer, and seasonal manual laborer in rural China until 1978. As a young political outcast living and working in two villages during this 12-year period, I had more opportunities than many of my peers to experience the devastating economic hardships (including famine) and the brutal political oppression under radical Maoism. Regardless, I benefited a great deal from living at the very bottom rungs of society as I learned directly from everyday life what really matters to ordinary people, experiencing their struggles for subsistence and meaning in life and sharing their efforts to cope with radical and rapid social changes, while at the same time attempting to maintain, sometimes with great difficulty, a proper sense of the self.

This long-term experience in village life engendered a strong commitment to equitably represent the lives of ordinary people (especially Chinese peasants) in my academic work after I was admitted as an undergraduate in 1978. During my undergraduate and masters’ career I was trained and worked as a literary scholar at Peking University (1978-86), with a focus on folklore and mythology. However, to better study the everyday life of ordinary people and rural society, I changed my field to anthropology in 1986 and received a Ph.D. in social anthropology from Harvard University in 1993. After teaching anthropology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (1993-94) and Johns Hopkins University (1994-96), in 1996 I joined my colleagues here at the UCLA Department of Anthropology and have been happily living and working in Los Angeles ever since.

Photos

Degrees

Ph.D., Harvard University (1993)

Selected Publications

The Flow of Gifts: Reciprocity and Social Networks in a Chinese Village (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996) 

Private Life under Socialism: Love, Intimacy, and Family Change in a Chinese Village, 1949-1999 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003). 

The Individualization of Chinese Society (Oxford: Berg, 2009) 

“The Good Samaritan’s New Trouble: A Study of the Changing Moral Landscape in Contemporary China.” Social Anthropology 17 (1): 9-24 (2009). 

“Introduction: Conflicting Images of the Individual and Contested Process of Individualization.” In Mette Halskov Hansen and Rune Svarverud (eds.) i China: The Rise of the Individual in Modern Chinese Society, pp. 1-38. Copenhagen: NIAS Press (2010).

"The Chinese Path to Individualization," The British Journal of Sociology 61(3): 489-512 (2010).

Research

Social change and development, family and kinship, cultural globalization, morality, the individual and individualization

Current Courses by Term

2017 Fall Quarter

Core Seminar: Sociocultural Anthropology -- Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Anthropology

Previous Courses by Term

2017 Summer Session

Globalization in Context

Globalization in Context Research Seminar

2017 Winter Quarter

Ideology and Social Change in Contemporary China

2016 Fall Quarter

Core Seminar: Sociocultural Anthropology -- Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Anthropology

2016 Summer Session

Globalization in Context

Globalization in Context Research Seminar

2015 Fall Quarter

Core Seminar: Sociocultural Anthropology -- Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Anthropology

2015 Summer Session

Globalization in Context

Globalization in Context Research Seminar

2015 Winter Quarter

Ideology and Social Change in Contemporary China

2014 Fall Quarter

Core Seminar: Sociocultural Anthropology -- Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Anthropology

2014 Summer Session

Globalization in Context

Globalization in Context Research Seminar

2014 Winter Quarter

Ideology and Social Change in Contemporary China

2013 Fall Quarter

Core Seminar: Sociocultural Anthropology -- Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Anthropology

2013 Summer Session

Globalization in Context

Globalization in Context Research Seminar

2012 Fall Quarter

Core Seminar: Sociocultural Anthropology -- Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Anthropology

2012 Winter Quarter

Selected Topics in Social Anthropology

2010 Spring Quarter

Ideology and Social Change in Contemporary China

2010 Winter Quarter

Selected Topics in Social Anthropology

2008 Fall Quarter

Ideology and Social Change in Contemporary China

2008 Winter Quarter

Culture and Society

2007 Fall Quarter

Variable Topics Research Seminars: Global Studies -- Senior Seminar

2007 Winter Quarter

Culture and Society

Honors Seminars

2006 Winter Quarter

Culture and Society

Honors Seminars

2005 Spring Quarter

Study of Social Systems

2005 Winter Quarter

Culture and Society

Honors Seminars

2003 Winter Quarter

Study of Social Systems

Selected Topics in Social Anthropology

2002 Summer Session

Chinese Family and Kinship

2002 Spring Quarter

Ideology and Social Change in Contemporary China

Selected Topics in Anthropology

Anthropology of China

2002 Winter Quarter

Study of Social Systems

2001 Fall Quarter

Core Seminar: Sociocultural Anthropology -- Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Anthropology

2001 Summer Session

Ideology and Social Change in Contemporary China

2001 Spring Quarter

Study of Social Systems

Selected Topics in Anthropology

2001 Winter Quarter

Ideology and Social Change in Contemporary China

Selected Topics in Social Anthropology

1999 Spring Quarter

Selected Topics in Anthropology

Previous Courses by Course

GLBL ST 110A
Globalization in Context

2017 Summer Session

2016 Summer Session

2015 Summer Session

2014 Summer Session

2013 Summer Session

GLBL ST 110B
Globalization in Context Research Seminar

2017 Summer Session

2016 Summer Session

2015 Summer Session

2014 Summer Session

2013 Summer Session

ANTHRO 175Q
Ideology and Social Change in Contemporary China

2017 Winter Quarter

2015 Winter Quarter

2014 Winter Quarter

2010 Spring Quarter

2008 Fall Quarter

2002 Spring Quarter

ANTHRO 203A
Core Seminar: Sociocultural Anthropology -- Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Anthropology

2016 Fall Quarter

2015 Fall Quarter

2014 Fall Quarter

2013 Fall Quarter

2012 Fall Quarter

2001 Fall Quarter

ANTHRO 250
Selected Topics in Social Anthropology

2012 Winter Quarter

2010 Winter Quarter

2003 Winter Quarter

2001 Winter Quarter

ANTHRO 9
Culture and Society

2008 Winter Quarter

2007 Winter Quarter

2006 Winter Quarter

2005 Winter Quarter

GLBL ST 191
Variable Topics Research Seminars: Global Studies -- Senior Seminar

2007 Fall Quarter

ANTHRO 89
Honors Seminars

2007 Winter Quarter

2006 Winter Quarter

2005 Winter Quarter

ANTHRO 150
Study of Social Systems

2005 Spring Quarter

2003 Winter Quarter

2002 Winter Quarter

2001 Spring Quarter

ANTHRO 175Y
Chinese Family and Kinship

2002 Summer Session

ANTHRO 277
Anthropology of China

2002 Spring Quarter

ANTHRO 197N
Selected Topics in Anthropology

2002 Spring Quarter

2001 Spring Quarter

1999 Spring Quarter

ANTHRO 175W
Ideology and Social Change in Contemporary China

2001 Summer Session

2001 Winter Quarter