David G. Atwill

David G. Atwill is the Dean of Arts and Sciences at NYU Shanghai. As Dean, he is responsible for academic affairs, curriculum coordination, and intellectual development of the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.

Atwill received his BA (1989) from Whitman College, and his MA (1994) and PhD (1999), in History, from University of Hawai’i, Manoa. A renowned historian of China and of ethnicity in early modern and modern China, Professor Atwill comes to NYU Shanghai from Pennsylvania State University, where he was Director of Graduate Studies in the History Department for seven years, and has chaired and served on committees pertaining to promotion and tenure, research funding, faculty mentorship, curriculum, accreditation, and many other such issues.

The recipient of numerous fellowships, he has received grants and fellowships from the Wilson Center for Scholars, the Mellon Foundation, and twice served as a Fulbright scholar. Atwill’s books include: The Panthay Rebellion: Islam, Ethnicity, the Dali Sultanate, 1856-73 (Verso 2023), Islamic Shangri-La: Inter-Asian Relations and Lhasa’s Muslim Communities, 1600 to 1960 (University of California, 2018). His current research has focused on Lin Zexu, a Chinese imperial official largely known for his role in the Opium War (1839-42) to be published with Oxford University Press in 2024.

Select Publications
  • Lin Zexu: Imperial China in a Globalizing World, New York, Oxford University Press, forthcoming [2024] ​ 
  • “The Lhasa Uprisings of 1959 and 2008: Muslims in a Buddhist Land,” In Islamic Ecumene: Comparing Global Muslim Societies, ed. Eric Tagliacozzo and David S. Powers. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, forthcoming [2023].
  • The Panthay Rebellion: Islam, Ethnicity, the Dali Sultanate in Southwestern China1856-73, London: Verso, 2023. ​ 
  • Sources in Chinese History: Diverse Perspectives from 1644 to the Present (Co-authored with Yurong Y. Atwill), New York, NY: Routledge, 2021. [SECOND EDITION – with new documents, new translations and new visual sources]
  • Islamic Shangri-la: Inter-Asian Relations and Lhasa’s Muslim Communities1600-1960, University of California Press, 2018.
  • PhD, History
    University of Hawai’i, Manoa, 1999
  • MA, History 
    University of Hawai’i, Manoa, 1994
  • BA, History
    Whitman College, 1989

Research Interests
  • Early Modern and Modern Chinese History
  • Islam in Asia
  • Race and Ethnicity in China
  • Inter-Asian History


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