Li Zhang's research concerns the social, political, and cultural repercussions of market reform and socialist transformations in contemporary China. Her earlier work traces the profound reconfigurations of space, power, and social networks within China's "floating population" under late socialism and globalization. Recently she completed her second book that examines the social and spatial implications of housing privatization and the making of the new middle classes in urban China. She also co-edited a volume with Aihwa Ong, which explores how social technologies of privatization and neoliberalism articulate with diverse areas of life and politics in China. Her current new research project explores the "inner revolution" brought by the market transition through examining an emergent psychotherapy and psychological counseling movement in Chinese cities. She is interested in how Western psychological formulations of the person through talk therapy articulate with local cultural notions of a socially embedded selfhood and neoliberal notions of self-care and self-management.
Urban studies (especially space-making, urban planning, and power dynamics); global middle-classes and consumption practices; mental health and well-being; selfhood and therapeutic processes; labor migration; postsocialism; critique of neoliberalism; East Asia (especially China).
- Zhang, L. (2017) The Rise of Therapeutic Governing in Postsocialist China, Medical Anthropology 36 (1): 6-18.
- Zhang, L., & Borovoy, A. (2017) Between Biopolitical Governance and Care: Rethinking Health, Selfhood, and Social Welfare in East Asia, Medical Anthropology 36 (1): 1-5.
- Zhang, L. (2017) "Battle Over Green Space": Land Disputes, Rights Activism, and Emerging Publics in Urban China, in Popular Politics and the Quest for Justice in Contemporary China, ads by Susanne Brandtstadter and Hans Steinmuller, 18-33. Routledge.
- Zhang, L. (2015) Cultivating Happiness: Psychotherapy, Spirituality, and Well-being in a Transforming Urban China, in Handbook of Religion and the Asian City, ed by Peter van der Veer, 315-332. UC Press.
- Zhang, L. (2014) Bentuhua: Culturing Psychotherapy in Postsocialist China, Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry 38 (2): 283-305.
- Zhang, L. (2010) In Search of Paradise: Middle Class Living in a Chinese Metropolis, Cornell University Press (Winner of the 2011 Francis L. Hsu Book Prize by the Society of East Asian Anthropology of the American Anthropological Association; Winner of the 2012 Robert E. Park Award by the Community and Urban Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association).
- Zhang, L., & Ong, A. (Eds.) (2008) Privatizing China, Socialism from Afar, Cornell University Press.
- Zhang, L. (2001) Strangers in the City: Reconfigurations of Space, Power, and Social Networks within China's Floating Population. Stanford: Stanford University Press (Winner of the 2002 Robert E. Park Award by the Community & Urban Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association).
Li Zhang teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in the areas of anthropologicaltheories, urban studies, migration, development, and Chinese culture and politicaleconomy.
Li Zhang was a 2008-09 Guggenheim Fellow, and a 2004-05 UC Davis Chancellor's Fellow. She has won numerous awards throughout her career, including three prestigious book prizes: Winner of the 2012 Robert E. Park Book Award for her second book In Search of Paradise, Winner of the 2001 Robert E. Park Book Award for her first book Strangers in the City (both presented by the Community & Urban Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association), and Winner of the 2011 Francis L. Hsu Book Prize for In Search of Paradise (presented by the Society for East Asian Anthropology of the American Anthropological Association).