I am best known as a historian of religion in China. My three published monographs represent the diverse approaches I have taken to this topic:
Sacred Village: Social Change and Religious Life in Rural North China (Hawaii 2005) is a close ethnographic history based on a combination of archival research and my own fieldwork.
Religion and the Making of Modern East Asia (Cambridge 2011) traces religion as a driving force across seven centuries of East Asian history. This book was intended to be (gasp!) readable and even(second gasp!) fun. It has proven especially successful in the undergraduate market.
Empire and the Meaning of religion in Northeast Asia (Cambridge, forthcoming 2016). My newest book examines the ways that Asia shaped global norms and institutions of religion during the early twentieth century. This book shows how professional communities of jurists, missionaries and diplomats channeled ideas about what religion is and does into closely defined communities of shared ideas and expectations.
I have published widely on the history of China and international history of Northeast Asia, including articles on the meaning and practice of religion, legal sovereignty, medical charity and social science. I have contributed to collaborative projects, including the Cambridge World History of Violence, and thematic volumes on empire in Asia, religious philanthropy, Marxist thought, and comparative fascism. My work has been translated into Arabic, Chinese and Russian.
I am deeply committed to intellectual exchange between Anglophone and Sinophone scholarly communities. I have edited two English translations of Chinese scholarship on the history of religion, and recently co-edited a special issue (vol. 74.2) of Asian Ethnology introducing the work of cutting-edge folklorists in China, and now the editor of a new multivolume series of scholarship translated from the Chinese journal Contemporary Historical Research (Zhongguo dangdai shi yanjiu), and published by Brill. The second volume of this series (eds. Huaiyin Li and DuBois) on agriculture and food security in the People’s Republic of China has just been released, with subsequent volumes on law, gender and medicine in preparation.