Director's Message



There are many roads to China: literal and virtual, cultural and intellectual, personal and professional. Whichever road it is that has led you there, and from there to this page, on behalf of the Fairbank Center, allow me to extend warm greetings. If you are in the Boston area, I invite you to join the community of scholars and students at Harvard and surrounding institutions who together form the single largest concentration of China specialists in the United States.  And if you are outside New England, I hope you will find something of interest among the resources that are available to you online through our website.

As we approach our sixtieth anniversary, the Fairbank Center is proud to be the standard bearer of Harvard’s long commitment to the study of China, dating back to 1879, when the first language instructor was hired.  The Center today brings together faculty from a wide range of departments and schools within the University, all of whom are specialists on some aspect of Chinese studies, including everything from religion, literature, and law to environmental engineering, urban planning, and public health.

In addition to this breadth, we offer what few other China studies centers can, namely, a deeply multidisciplinary approach to understanding in all its complexity one of the fastest-changing places in the world today, informed by an intimate knowledge of the land, the people, the language, and the culture, and backed by rich in-country experience. The work of our faculty maintains the highest academic standards and is instrumental in fostering a strong intellectual relationship between scholars and students in the United States, the People’s Republic, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore, as well as elsewhere in the world.

I invite you to take a few moments to explore our list of affiliateswatch a lecture or two, or have a look at Wilma Fairbank’s watercolors from 1930s Peking, when she was there with husband John.  If you should attend one of our events, be sure to join the discussion that always follows.

Again, welcome.  Feel free to visit our site often for updates and news of upcoming events.  Even better, to keep up with what is happening at the Center, like us on Facebook or join our Twitter feed!


Mark C. Elliott
Director, Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies
Mark Schwartz Professor of Chinese and Inner Asian History