Research Interests: Modern Chinese politics and history.
Daniel Koss studies political parties in East Asian politics. His first book, published in 2018, investigates the role of political parties under authoritarianism through the case of the Chinese Communist Party. Asking why the Chinese state is "stronger" in some areas of its realm than in others, his research demonstrates the importance of the party's rank and file for effective local governance. His second book manuscript studies East Asia's other super-resilient ruling party, namely the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan.
Approaching contemporary outcomes from a long historical perspective, his field of research covers the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), the Great Leap Forward (1958-1961), the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), and even the governance reforms of the Yongzheng Emperor (r. 1722-1735). Koss's research on Japanese parties adopts a similarly long-term perspective, with one of his ongoing projects studying the emergence of political parties in the early Meiji era.
Koss has spent years doing research in mainland China (Beijing, Hubei, Shandong, Zhejiang), Taiwan and Japan (Miyagi, Nagano, Shiga, Tokyo, Toyama). He holds a PhD in political science from Harvard University, worked as an Assistant Research Fellow at the Institute of Political Science at Academia Sinica (Taipei), and since January 2019 serves as a lecturer at the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations.
Where the Party Rules: The Rank and File of China's Communist State
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2018
In most non-democratic countries, today governing 44 percent of the world population, the power of the regime rests upon a ruling party. Contrasting with conventional notions that authoritarian regime parties serve to contain elite conflict and manipulate electoral-legislative processes, this book presents the case of China and shows that rank-and-file members of the Communist Party allow the state to penetrate local communities. Subnational comparative analysis demonstrates that in “red areas” with high party saturation, the state is most effectively enforcing policy and collecting taxes. Because party membership patterns are extremely enduring, they must be explained by events prior to the Communist takeover in 1949. Frontlines during the anti-colonial Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) continue to shape China’s political map even today. Newly available evidence from the Great Leap Forward (1958–1961) and the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) shows how a strong local party basis sustained the regime in times of existential crisis.
“Political Geography of Empire: Chinese Varieties of Local Government”, The Journal of Asian Studies 76(1): 159-184, February 2017.
“A Micro-Geography of State Extractive Power: The Case of Rural China”, co-authored with Hiroshi Sato, Studies in Comparative International Development 51(4): 389-410, December 2016.