Photo of Jacob Eyferth
Jacob Eyferth Faculty Member, Center for East Asian Studies

Office: The University of Chicago
Department of History
1050 E. 59th Street
Wieboldt Hall, room 301
Chicago, IL 60637

Wieboldt Hall, room 301H – Office
Phone: (773) 834-1677 – Office telephone (773) 834-1323 – Fax Email Interests:

Social and cultural history of twentieth-century China, in particular rural China; history of work, technology, gender, and everyday life.

Associate Professor of Modern Chinese History in East Asian Languages and Civilizations, History, and the College

Leiden University, PhD '00


Jacob Eyferth is a social historian of China with research interests in the life and work experience of nonelite people throughout the twentieth century. Trained at the universities of Berlin and Leiden, he has held postdoctoral fellowships at Oxford, Harvard, and Rutgers and taught at Simon Fraser University. Currently, he is associate professor in the department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations of the University of Chicago. Most of his work has focused on the countryside and on the mid-twentieth century, c. 1920–1970. His first book, Eating Rice from Bamboo Roots, is an ethnographic history of a community of rural papermakers in Sichuan. It won the 2011 Joseph Levenson Prize for the best book on China in the post-1900 category. He is currently working on a second book, tentatively titled Cotton, Gender, and Revolution in Twentieth-Century China, that uses cloth and clothing as a lens through which to analyze how the monumental changes of the twentieth century—revolution, collectivization, industrialization, etc.—transformed the lives of rural women. 

Recent Research / Recent Publications

  • Eating Rice from Bamboo Roots: The Social History of a Community of Handicraft Papermakers in Rural Sichuan, 1920–2000. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009.

  • Editor. How China Works: Perspectives on the Twentieth-Century Industrial Workplace. Routledge 2006.

  • Coedited with Peter Ho and Eduard Vermeer. Rural Development in Transitional China. Frank Cass 2004.

  • "Women's Work and the Politics of Homespun in Socialist China, 1948–1980." International Review of Social History 55, no. 4 (December 2012): 1–27.

  • "Technology as Source and Stream: Trade Gods, Ancestors, and the Transmission of Knowledge among Papermakers in Jiajiang, Sichuan." The Chinese Journal for the History of Science and Technology 1 (2011).

  • "Craft Knowledge at the Interface of Written and Oral Cultures." East Asian Science and Technology Studies 4, no. 2 (2010): 185–205.

  • "De-Industrialization in the Chinese Countryside: Handicrafts and Development in Jiajiang (Sichuan), 1935–1978." China Quarterly 173 (March 2003).

  • "How Not to Industrialize: Observations from a Village in Sichuan." The Journal of Peasant Studies 30, no. 3–4 (April/July 2003): 75–92.