Huwy-min Lucia Liu

Huwy-min Lucia Liu

Huwy-min Lucia Liu

Director of Graduate Programs in Anthropology

Associate Professor

Anthropology: Cultural Anthropology; Political Anthropology; Politics, Economy and Religion; Socialism and Change; Subjectivity and Governance; Civil Society; Life and Death Studies; Ritual Studies; Culture and Emotion; Gender and Masculinity; China and Taiwan

Dr. Huwy-min Lucia Liu received her Ph.D. in Anthropology at Boston University, an MPhil and an MA in Anthropology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and a BA in Journalism at National Chengchi University in Taiwan. Prior to joining the faculty at George Mason University, she was a tenure track Assistant Professor in the Humanities Division at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Dr. Liu’s research focuses on social change in authoritarian and socialist regimes. Specifically, she explores how ordinary Chinese people navigate through and respond to structural changes through topics on citizenship, identity, governance, and activism. Her new book, Governing Death, Making Persons: The New Chinese Way of Death is an ethnography of funeral governance, state rituals, and the marketization of the death industry under the Chinese Communist Party, this manuscript explains why and how urban Shanghainese are primarily commemorated in death as model socialist citizens despite the rise of individualism and current government opposition to socialist funerals since the initiation of market reforms in 1978. It illustrates changes in the governance of death and how such changes influence subject formation at the end of life for both the living and the dead with particular emphasis on the effects of market economic reforms.

Current Research

1. Governing Death in China

2. Governing Nature in China: Chinese National Parks (Fenwick Fellow 2022-2023)

3. Governing Nature in Taiwan: Formosan Black Bears Conservation in Taiwan

Selected Publications


2022. Governing Death, Making Persons: The New Chinese Way of Death. Cornell University Press (Enter 09BCARD in your shopping cart to save 30%!)

Peer-Reviewed Articles

2022. “Making a Living from Death: Chinese State Funeral Workers under the Market Economy,” in The New Death: Mortality and Death Care in the 21st Century, Shannon Dawdy and Tamara Kneese ed. New Mexico: SAR and University of New Mexico Press.

2021 "The Civil Governance of Death: The Making of Chinese Political Subjects at the End of Life," in Journal of Asian Studies

2020. “Ritual and Pluralism: Religious Variations on Socialist Death Rituals in Urban China,” in Critique of Anthropology

2019[2021]. “Market Economy Lives, Socialist Death: Contemporary Commemorations in Urban China,” in Modern China

2010 “Substance, Masculinity, and Class: Betel Nut Consumption and Embarrassing Modernity in Taiwan,” in Charismatic Modernity: Popular Culture in Taiwan, Marc L. Moskowitz, ed. Pp.131-148. London and New York: Routledge.

2009 Co-authored (with Joseph Bosco and Matthew West). “Underground Lotteries in China: The Occult Economy and Capitalist Culture,” in Research in Economic Anthropology:Economic Develop, Integration, and Morality in Asia and Americas, Vol. 29, Donald C. Wood, ed. Pp.31-62. Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing.

Book Reviews and Translations

2014  Chinese Translator of “Chinese Religious Philanthropy and the Limitation of Social Capital,” written by Robert Weller, in Anthropology of Religion, Beijing, China.       

2010  Co-author (with Charles Lindholm). Book Review of Crying Shame: Metaculture, Modernity and the Exaggerated Death of Lament(James Wilce). Ethos Journal. Vol. 38, Issue 3.

Grants and Fellowships

Dr. Liu has received competitive external research funding via an Early Career Scheme Research Grant from the University Grants Council in Hong Kong (2017-2019), a Cora Du Bois Fellowship from Harvard University (2014), a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship (2013-2014), a Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship (2013-2014 declined), a National Study Abroad Scholarship from the Ministry of Education, Republic of China, Taiwan (2010-2012), a Fulbright Graduate Study Grant from the Fulbright Foundation (2007-2008 declined), and Academia Sinica Masters’ Thesis Writing Scholarship from the Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica, Taiwan (2005-2006).

Courses Taught

ANTH 114 Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

ANTH 330/317 East Asian Cultures

ANTH 321 Death, Dead Bodies, and Culture

ANTH 536 Anthropology and the Human Condition: Seminar II

ANTH 635 Regional Ethnography: East Asian Ethnography

ANTH 720 Culture, Power, and Conflict 


2015 PhD, Anthropology Department, Boston University, United States

2006 M.Phil, Anthropology Department, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

2004 M.A., Anthropology Department, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

2001 B.A., Journalism Department, National Chengchi University, Taiwan

Recent Presentations

[2023]    “Commemorating the Dead in Contemporary China: Urban Chinese Death Ritual as a Site of Subject Formation,” for the Invited Panel: Death and Dying in Contemporary East Asia, Asian Forum 2023: Death and Dying in East Asia, May 5-7, Western Michigan University.

2022      “Emotional Regimes and Ethical Subjects: Grief and Tears in Contemporary China,” Value Pluralism and Moral Change Conference, March 2-5, University of Cologne, Germany.

2019      “Ritual and Pluralism: Religious Variations on Socialist Death Rituals in Urban China,” December 9, Religious Diversity Colloquium, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Gottingen, Germany.

In the Media

2023. Samuel Oakford, Lily Kuo, Vic Chiang, Imogen Piper and Lyric Li. Satellite images show Crowds at China’s Crematoriums as Covid Surges, The Washington Post, January 9.

2019. Bennett Marcus. A ‘haunted’ Hong Kong flat: American tenant tries to get to the bottom of some ghostly goings-on. Post Magazine, South China Morning Post, published on 25 May.