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Jonathan Howlett
Senior Lecturer in Chinese and Colonial History



BA (Bristol), MA (Bristol), MPhil (Oxford), PhD (Bristol)

Dr Jon Howlett is a Senior Lecturer in Chinese and Colonial History. He has published on a range of topics including: the political and social history of the People’s Republic of China; Sino-British relations; the history of Shanghai; propaganda production; and decolonisation. 

Dr Howlett is a co-founder of York’s Asia Research Group and is Regional Coordinator for East Asia. He is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and won a Vice Chancellor’s Teaching Award in 2020. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and served as an elected member of the council of the British Association for Chinese Studies (2013-2016). 

He has held visiting scholarships at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, East China Normal University (Shanghai), Fudan University (Shanghai), Lund University and Zhejiang University (Hangzhou).




Dr Howlett’s current research project Decolonisation at the Margins: socialist revolution and the legacies semi-colonialism in Shanghai, 1949-1976 explores the impacts of the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to eliminate foreign organisations and influences after the revolution of 1949 on ordinary people, Chinese and foreign.  

The subjects of previous publications include: decolonisation in China; the takeover of British companies in Shanghai and Tianjin after revolution of 1949; place name renaming in socialist Shanghai; ideology and iconoclasm in Liu Shaoqi’s seminal text How to be a Good Communist; China’s ‘transition to socialism’ in the early 1950s; and socialist China’s first English language propaganda newspaper, The Shanghai News. Dr Howlett’s co-edited volume Britain and China: Empire, Finance and War offers new perspectives on Sino-British relations in history.



Dr Howlett is an experienced supervisor and welcomes applications from prospective postgraduate students on all aspects of China's modern history. He especially welcomes proposals that relate to the social and political history of the People’s Republic of China (1949-present), Sino-foreign relations, colonialism and postcolonialism in China, and the history of Shanghai.



An example of modules taught:

  • HIS00104C Arguments and Analysis
  • HIS00202H Mao and Maoism 
  • HIS00143H Communisms


An example of modules taught:


Contact details

Dr Jonathan Howlett
Vanbrugh College V/A/203A
Department of History
University of York
YO10 5DD

Student hours

Student hours

Semester 2 2023/4