Carnegie Mellon University

Donald Sutton

Donald Sutton

Professor Emeritus of Chinese Studies

Education: Ph.D., Cambridge University, 1971.


I am a China historian working at the juncture of history and anthropology. Besides early studies of the origins of 20th century warlordism, I have mostly focused on ritual or folk religion, with support from the Fulbright Program, the Taiwan National Endowment for Culture and the Arts, the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, the Joint Committee on Chinese Studies of the ACLS and SSRC, and St John’s College, Cambridge. I have published on religious and social change in 20th century Taiwan, and on late imperial social relations explored through religion, and will gather some of the articles for a book on ritual in Chinese societies.

Another line of research explores ethnicity and religion in two remote areas: West Hunan and the Tibetan borderlands. The second project, conducted jointly with the historian Xiaofei Kang (George Washington University), centers on a World Heritage site, with the support of collaborative summer grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Our book in draft, “Contesting the Yellow Dragon,” is a case study of ethnicity, religious practice, tourism and environmentalism. As an offshoot of this work, I am examining state formation in Aba Autonomous Tibetan and Qiang Prefecture in the early People’s Republic.

I am a contributing editor for the Journal of Ritual Studies and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Ethnology (民族学刊), Chengdu, China.

  • “Policy and Identity on an Ethnic Periphery: The Aba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture: 1950-2010,” in Carolyn Cartier and Tim Oakes, eds., Vast Land of Borders: Regionality and the Development of the Chinese State (in press)
  • “Transfers of a Ritual at a Northern Sichuan Site: Tibetan and Han Chinese Pilgrims, and Han Chinese Tourists,” in Ritual Dynamics and the Science of Ritual, Gen. ed. Alex Michaels. Vol. V, I: Transfer and Spaces: Ritual Transfer. Eds. Gita Dharampal-Frick and Robert Langer. Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden (Nov. 2010), pp. 235-57.
  • Faiths on Display: Religious Revival and Tourism in China. Rowman and Littlefield. Co-edited and introduced with Tim Oakes (2010)
  • “Making Tourists and Remaking Locals: Religion, Ethnicity and Patriotism in Northern Sichuan,” (co-authored with Xiaofei Kang), for Tim Oakes and Donald Sutton, ed. (see above), pp. 103-26.
  • “明清時期的文化一體性、差異性與國家:對標準化與正統實踐的討論之延伸” (Cultural Unification, Variation and the State in Ming and Qing Times: A Contribution to the Debate on Standardization and Orthopraxy) (with the assistance of Melissa Brown, Paul Katz, Ken Pomeranz, and Michael Szonyi, in Lishi renleixuekan [Journal of History and Anthropology] (in Chinese), Hong Kong and Guangzhou 7, 2 (October 2009): 139-163