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Sheehan, Brett


Contact Information
Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences
Office: SOS 173
Phone: (213) 821-3128

Curriculum Vitae


  • Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, Modern Chinese History, 1997

Brett Sheehan is professor of Chinese history at the University of Southern California. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California-Berkeley in 1997. He is the author of Trust in Troubled Times: Money, Banking and State-Society Relations in Republican Tianjin, 1916-1937 (Harvard University Press, 2003) Industrial Eden: A Chinese Capitalist Vision (Harvard University Press, 2015), and numerous articles and book chapters.

Description of Research
Summary Statement of Research Interests
My research lies at the intersection of politics, society, and economics. It addresses a series of questions: How did people come to trust financial institutions? What was the relationship between capitalism and authoritarianism? How did economic institutions shape Chinese elite structures and state-society relations?
Research Keywords
modern china business history trust capitalism Chinese capitalism authoritarianism terrorism society and economy political economy financial crises money and banking bank runs
Research Specialties
Modern China, economy and society, money and banking, business


  • Sheehan, B. (2015). Industrial Eden: A Chinese Capitalist Vision. Harvard University Press. author page

  • Sheehan, B. G. (2003). Trust in Troubled Times: Money, Banks and State-Society Relations in Republican Tianjin. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

 Book Chapters

  • Sheehan, B. (2014). "Shotgun Wedding: The Dongya Corporation and the Early Communist Regime". The Capitalist Dilemma in China’s Communist Rev. Cornell University Center for International Studies, East Asia Program.

  • Sheehan, B. (2013). "Unorganized Crime: Forgers, Soldiers, and Shopkeepers in Beijing, 1927, 1928". The Order of Space in Republican Chinese City pp. 95-112. Brill.

  • Sheehan, B. (2007). "Banks and Bankers in Motion" In Cities in Motion. pp. 81-105. Berkeley, California: UC, Berkeley, Institute of East Asian Studies.

  • Sheehan, B. G. (2006). "The Modernity of Savings." In Everyday Modernity in China. (Vol. 121-155). Seattle, Washington: University of Washington Press.

  • Sheehan, B. G. (2000). "Urban Identity and Urban Networks in Cosmopolitan Cities: Banks and Bankers in Tianjin, 1900-1937." In Remaking the Chinese City: Modernity and National Identity, 1900-1950. pp. 47-64. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press.

  • Sheehan, B. (2000). "The Persistence and Limits of Localism: State Power, the Public Sphere and the Money Economy in Tianjin, 1916-1937." In Guoshishang zhongyang yu difang de guanxi [Central and Local Relations in Chinese History]. pp. 1311-1386. Taipei: Academia Historica.

 Journal Articles

  • Sheehan, B. (2010). "Boycotts and Bombs: The Failure of Economic Sanctions in the Sino-Japanese Conflict in Tianjin, China, 1928-1932". Management and Organizational History. Vol. 5 (2), pp. 197-220.

  • Sheehan, B. (2008). An Awkward but Potent Fit: Photographs and Political Narratives of the Tianjin Incidents During the Sino-Japanese Conflict, November 1931. European Journal of East Asian Studies. Vol. 7 (2), pp. 193-227.

  • Sheehan, B. G. (2005). "Myth and Reality in Chinese Financial Cliques in 1936". Enterprise and Society. Vol. 452-491

  • Sheehan, B. (1998). "Warlords, Cadres and Bankers: Private Commercial Banking in the Republican and Post-Mao Periods". Journal of Asian Business. Vol. 14 (1), pp. 5-22.

 Research Report

  • Sheehan, B. (2007). "Civilization and Economy: Is Synthesis Possible in the Age of Micro History?" Conference Report on "The Economic Performance of Civilizations: Roles of Culture, Religion, and the Law," organized by the Institute of Economic Research on Civilizations, University of Southern California, February 23-27, 2007. Chinese Business History.

Honors and Awards

  • USC or School/Dept Award for Teaching, Nomonation: Steven B. Sample Teaching and Mentoring Award, Spring 2013   

  • Dornsife General Education Teaching Award for History 106, Spring 2012   

  • Dorothy and Hsin-Nung Yao Outstanding Teaching Award, 2003-2004