Wesley B. Chaney

Assistant Professor of History



Pettengill Hall, Room 117




Ph.D., Stanford University, History; M.A., Stanford University, East Asian Studies; B.A., Davidson College, History

I am an historian of China and concentrate broadly on the environmental, social, and legal history of the Qing Empire (1644-1912). My current research project, tentatively titled “Stolen Land, Broken Bodies: Law, Environment, and Rebellion in Northwest China,” examines ground-level social transformations and the ethnicized legal disputes that both triggered and followed the violence of the mid-nineteenth century. Centering on the lives of ordinary peddlers, smallholders, and herders preserved in legal case records and a range of other local sources, the study details the changing jurisdictional geographies and disputes over land, resources, and individual bodies that attended imperial expansion in the Sino-Tibetan borderlands.

Here at Bates I teach a broad range of courses—from surveys covering the whole sweep of Chinese history to short term classes on sports in modern China—and have advised senior theses on Chinese migration to Southeast Asia and CCP rural policies.


  • China and Its Culture
  • China in Revolution
  • Environmental History of China
  • Sport, Gender, and the Body in Modern China
  • From Tibet to Taiwan: Frontiers in Chinese History, 1700-Present
  • Caravans, Khans, and Commissars: A History of Central Eurasia

Current Courses

Fall Semester 2022

ASIA 274
China in Revolution

ASIA 302
Environmental History of China

ENVR 311
Environmental History of China

HIST 274
China in Revolution

Environmental History of China