Dr Tehyun Ma

B.A. (Pennsylvania), Ph.D. (Bristol), Postdoc (Oxford)

School of History, Philosophy and Digital Humanities

Lecturer in International History

Dr Tehyun Ma outside, the Jessop Building in the background
Profile picture of Dr Tehyun Ma outside, the Jessop Building in the background
+44 114 22 22588

Full contact details

Dr Tehyun Ma
School of History, Philosophy and Digital Humanities (nee Department of History)
Jessop West
1 Upper Hanover Street
S3 7RA

I grew up in the old steel city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, or the Sheffield of America as it is sometimes known.

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in International Relations and History, I worked as a trade union organiser before undertaking a doctorate in history at the University of Bristol.

Upon graduation in 2010, I became a postdoctoral fellow on the Leverhulme-funded 'China's War with Japan' project in the History Faculty at Oxford.

I have taught at Birkbeck College, University of London, Bristol University, and the University of Exeter before joining the department.

My main research interest is in the history of state- and nation-building in twentieth-century China and Taiwan, particularly under the Chinese Nationalist (Guomindang) government.

I am also interested in the transnational exchange of social policy in wartime East Asia.

Research interests

My main research interest is in the history of state-building in China and Taiwan, with a particular focus on how state-building and propaganda fostered legitimacy at home and abroad. Currently Tehyun is working on two research projects. 

My first project explores the development of 'Free China' on Taiwan in the early Cold War, as well as the role of American sponsorship in regime consolidation. I focus on how the challenge of mobilising a disaffected island population to meet an invasion by the People’s Liberation Army shaped the way Chinese Nationalist leaders tried to produce authority in the early Cold War period. 

My second project focuses on the designs for rehabilitation and reconstruction in China before and after the Japanese surrender in 1945. I have looked here at the transnational influences on Chinese social policy, such as the American Social Security Act and the British Beveridge Report, and have argued that the adaptation of such ideas became a significant aspect of Republican China's foreign and domestic policy.

Both projects are interested in questions about the performance of statecraft. I look at reformers working within authoritarian regimes who believed that political authority came out of the process and comportment of government, rather than the legitimation of majority rule.

In keeping with my interest in state formation, I have also written on the long history of imperial rule and colonial intervention in China between the eighteenth century and the Communist takeover in 1949.


Journal articles


  • Ma T (2019) Making Taiwan Chinese, 1945-60, Routledge Handbook of Revolutionary China (pp. 202-216). RIS download Bibtex download
  • Ma T (2018) The Eclipse of Empire in China In Thomas M & Thompson AS (Ed.) (pp. 211-248). Oxford University Press RIS download Bibtex download
  • Ma T (2015) Maoist China & China Since 1976 In Overy R (Ed.), The Times Complete History of the World William Collins RIS download Bibtex download
  • Ma T () The Multiple Lives of Utopia in Modern China, The Oxford Handbook of Thomas More's Utopia (pp. 476-491). Oxford University Press RIS download Bibtex download

Book reviews

Research group

Research supervision

I am happy to supervise students working on the history of modern China and Taiwan, particularly those with an interest in the Republican era (1911-1949), World War II, and the early Cold War.

Find out more about PhD study in History

Teaching activities


  • HST117 - The Making of the 20th Century
  • HST2503 - The Battle for China’s Future, 1839-1949
  • HST3150/51 - Mao and the Making of Twentieth-Century China
  • HST3306 - A Comparative History of Revolutions


  • HST6068 - the Japanese Empire in East Asia, 1895-1945
Professional activities and memberships

Previous administrative roles:

Widening participation schools coordinator.

Public engagement

I have talked about aspects of her work on Radio 4, Chinese TV, and have been interviewed for a forthcoming documentary on the Sino-Japanese War. Work on public engagement projects have taken me to the British Consulate in Chongqing, China, and, more locally, to Historical Association talks in the UK.