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Vivienne Xiangwei  Guo

Dr Vivienne Xiangwei Guo

Lecturer in Modern Chinese History


Before I conducted my PhD research in history at King’s College London, I had studied international politics at Peking University, China and Waseda University, Japan and then obtained my MSc in international relations at LSE. Between 2014 and 2016, I worked as a research associate at the University of Cologne. And between 2016 and 2021, I worked as a lecturer in modern Chinese history at the University of Exeter. I joined King’s College London in September 2021. 

Research interests and PhD supervision

  • Intellectual and political history of modern China
  • Gender and women’s history of modern China
  • Networks and societies of Chinese intellectual elite
  • Chinese warlordism
  • Interdisciplinary studies of foreign language learning and using across the fields of history, art history, cultural-linguistics, sociolinguistics, literature, and others

My research focuses on the intellectual, political, and cultural history of modern China, in particular the history of China’s intellectual elite – their networks, societies, and identities – in the late nineteenth century and the twentieth century.

My first monograph, Women and Politics in Wartime China, focuses on Chinese elite women as a special socio-political group who committed themselves to ‘national resistance and reconstruction’ from the 1930s to the 1950s. It examines the interactions between their sophisticated networks and the shifting geopolitical, social and cultural spaces of wartime China. My second monograph, Negotiating A Chinese Federation, studies the ways in which China’s men of guns (so-called “warlords”) and men of letters (May Fourth intellectuals) engaged one another for the making of a Chinese federation between 1919 and 1923.

I am now working on a new project, entitled ‘New Self, New World: The French Language in the Making of Modern Chinese Intellectuals’, whose two-year archival research in France and China is funded by the BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grants. This project studies how Chinese intellectuals in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries learned French as the first step towards engaging with Western science, technology, and culture. Further, it concerns how French language learning and using influenced their self-identification, self-representation, and self-expression.

Selected Publications


Negotiating a Chinese Federation: The Exchange of Ideas and Political Collaborations between China’s Men of Guns and Men of Letters, 1919-1923 (Brill, 2022).

Women and Politics in Wartime China: Networking Across Geopolitical Borders (London and New York: Routledge, 2018).

Research articles

‘Making the “Good Government” with the “Good People”: Collaboration between General Wu Peifu and Endeavor Intellectuals, 1920–1922’, Twentieth-Century China Vol.47 no. 2 (2022): 112-132.

‘Not Just a Man of Guns: Chen Jiongming, Warlord, and the May Fourth Intellectual (1919-1922)’, Journal of Chinese History Vol 4, Issue 1 (2020): 161-185.

‘Forging a Women’s United Front: Chinese Elite Women’s Networks for National Salvation and Resistance 1932-1938’, Modern Asian Studies Vol.53 Issue 2 (2019): 483–511.

‘Leaning to the Left: The Political Reorganisation of Chinese Women Activists within the CCP United-Front Framework (1945-1949)’, British Journal of Chinese Studies Vol. 7 (2017): 29-62. 


I teach a range of modules at undergraduate and postgraduate level, with a particular focus on the history of modern China (from the nineteenth century to present). 

Expertise and public engagement

2021, three-episode Arte series Reinventing China, commenting on the history of modern and contemporary China in the entire nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Other historians contributing to this series include Julia Lovell, Timothy Brook, and Prasenjit Duara.

2017, WildBear Entertainment 2017 series, The Impossible Peace (IMDb, commenting on the history of interwar China. Other historians contributing to this series include Rana Mitter.