Sociology Faculty Directory

Julia Chuang

Assistant Professor




Julia Chuang is an Assistant Professor of Sociology. She received a PhD in 2014 from the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. From 2014 to 2016 she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University.

Chuang’s research uses ethnography to show how the movement of people shapes global economic processes. Her book, Beneath the China Boom (University of California Press 2020), applies this method to the Chinese economy. It follows labor brokers and migrant workers as they move between the villages where they live and the cities where they work. Her book shows how their migrations reflect ongoing tensions and changes in the way Chinese markets – and their reliance on labor and land in particular – operate today. Publications from this project have appeared in Gender & SocietyJournal of Peasant Studies and The China Quarterly. Research was funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, and the ZEIT-Stiftung Bucerius Foundation.

Her next project examines the case of Chinese immigrant investors, migrants seeking destinations where they can “park” under-valued capital assets in exchange for financial returns or political citizenship.


Chuang, Julia. 2020. Beneath the China Boom: Labor, Citizenship, and the Making of a Rural Land Market.  University of California Press.

Chuang, Julia. 2016. “Factory Girls After the Factory: Female Return Migrations in Rural China.” Gender & Society 30 (3): 467-489.

Chuang, Julia. 2015. “Urbanization Through Dispossession: Survival and Stratification in China’s New Townships.” Journal of Peasant Studies 42 (2): 275-294. (Distinguished Graduate Student Paper Award, ASA Labor and Labor Movements.)

Chuang, Julia. 2014. “China’s Rural Land Politics: Bureaucratic Absorption and the Muting of Rightful Resistance.” The China Quarterly 219: 649-669.

Chuang, Julia. 2014. “Chains of Debt: Labor Trafficking as a Career in China’s Construction Industry.” In Kimberly K. Hoang and Rhacel Parrenas (eds.), Human Trafficking Reconsidered: Rethinking the Problem, Envisioning New Solutions, pp. 58-68. New York: Open Society Institute.

Recent Honors and Awards

Bharadwaj and Wolf Prize for best article by a young scholar in two years, Journal of Peasant Studies, 2017.

Distinguished Graduate Student Paper. “Urbanization Through Dispossession: Survival and Stratification in China’s New Townships.” Section on Labor and Labor Movements of the American Sociological Association, 2014.