About Us
Teresa KUAN
Teresa KUAN

Associate Professor

Office NAH 325
Office Tel. 3943 7728
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Educational qualification Ph.D. University of Southern California


“To see a world in a grain of sand,” wrote the poet William Blake. It took only one introductory class at UC Berkeley before I declared anthropology as my major, which led to a serious interest in visual anthropology, taking me to the University of Southern California, where I then found myself on the PhD track conducting a project on popular advice and child-rearing in market reform China. My interests are broad, but my research and teaching coalesce around the theme of modernity and subjectivity. I am especially interested in the contingencies of life and the experience of control in relation to large-scale social trends and historical shifts. I have explored this theme in my book Love’s Uncertainty, the writing of which has led me to take a strong interest in the issue of “luck” and the distribution of responsibility, specifically, how and why responsibility is taken and under what circumstances. Currently I am following the development of family therapy and other related therapies targeting adolescent distress in mainland China.

Research interests

Anthropology of China, anthropology of ethics, childhood studies, psychological anthropology, medical anthropology.

Geographical areas of research

Mainland China

Courses taught

ANTH 1020 Anthropology: The Study of Global Humanity
ANTH 2360/UGED 2666/ANTH 5385 Ethics and the Human Experience
ANTH 3390/5391 Disability and Difference
ANTH 5010 Anthropological Theory
ANTH 5015 Anthropology: A Postgraduate Introduction

GRF Grant

Repairing Relationships: An Ethnographic Study of the Development of Family Therapy in China (2015-2018)


Faculty of Arts Outstanding Teaching Award 2013
Faculty of Arts Humanities Fellowship 2016
Faculty of Arts Research Excellence Award 2017-2018



2015 Love’s Uncertainty: The Politics and Ethics of Child Rearing in Contemporary China. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.

Journal articles and book chapters

2023 Emotion and Affect. In The Cambridge Handbook for the Anthropology of Ethics. James Laidlaw, ed. Pp. 309-334. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

2021 Vicarious Responsibility and the Problem of ‘Too Much’: Moral Luck from the Perspective of Ordinary Ethics. The Monist. Special issue: Vicarious Responsibility and Circumstantial Luck. 104(2): 168-181.

2020 Feelings Run in the Family: Kin Therapeutics and the Configuration of Cause in China. Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology. Special issue: “It Runs in the Family”. Exploring Contagious Kinship Connections. 85(4): 696–716.

2017 At the Edge of Safety: Moral Experimentation in the Case of Family Therapy. Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry. Special issue: Moral (and other) laboratories. 41(2): 245-266.

2017 (Co-authored with Lone Grøn) Introduction to “Moral (and other) laboratories.” Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry. Special issue: Moral (and other) laboratories. 41(2): 185-201.

2017 The problem of moral luck, anthropologically speaking. Anthropological Theory 17(1): 30-59.

2014    Banking in Affects: The Child, a Landscape, and the Performance of a Canonical View. In The Political Economy of Affect and Emotion in East Asia. Jie Yang, ed. Pp. 65-81. New York: Routledge.

2012    The Horrific and the Exemplary: Public Stories and Education Reform in Late Socialist China. positions: asia critique. 20(4): 1095-1125.

2011    “The heart says one thing but the hand does another”: A Story about Emotion-Work, Ambivalence, and Popular Advice for Parents. The China Journal 65: 78-99.

Book reviews

2018 Review of The Good Child: Moral Development in a Chinese Preschool. By Jing Xu. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press (2017). The China Quarterly 235: 904-905.

2014 Review of Communities of Complicity: Everyday Ethics in Rural China. By Hans Steinmüller. New York and Oxford: Berghahn (2013). Asian Anthropology 13(1): 78-80.

2014 Review of Chinese Modernity and the Individual Psyche. Edited by Andrew Kipnis. New York: Palgrave Macmillan (2012). The China Journal 71: 246-248.

2013 Review of Young Chinese in Urban China. By Alex Cockain. New York: Routledge (2012). The China Journal 69: 230-231.


2018-2022 Book reviews editor for Asian Anthropology

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