Jie Yang

Professor of Anthropology
Sociology & Anthropology


Dr. Jie Yang, Professor of anthropology, received her PhD in anthropology from the University of Toronto in 2006. Dr. Yang’s research is at the intersection of two primary areas: linguistic anthropology and China studies. In the first area, she is interested in the analysis of how power and ideologies are embedded in and work through language and how ideologies interpellate individuals and constitute/remold subjectivities.  In the second area, Dr. Yang’s research interests focus on the aesthetic, therapeutic and neoliberal governance in contemporary China. Her two current research projects: one is China’s beauty economy, which capitalizes on the female body, feminine beauty, feminine youth, and sexuality. The other is the rise of the therapeutic in China (e.g. psychiatry, ecopsychology, counseling, social work, therapeutic consumption, therapeutic lifestyle). This project engages two areas of research on the notion of the therapeutic: one refers to a certain class of experts and the procedures they use to address psychic and physical problems; the other area of research is the modern welfare state and its ideologies, programs and policies that diagnose and normalize the marginalized groups.

Dr. Yang is currently working on two projects: an edited volume The Political Economy of Affect and Emotion in Contemporary East Asia and a monograph The Rise of the Therapeutic: Governing the New Urban Poor and the Mentally Ill in China.

A complete list of Dr. Yang's publications can be found on Google Scholar.


PhD (Anthropology), University of Toronto
MA (Sociolinguistics), Beijing Language & Cultural University
BA (English Language & Literature), Shandong University, Jinan, China

Areas of Interest

Language; media; ideology and power; postsocialism; neoliberalism; development and environment; unemployment and urban poverty; gender and sexuality; mental health; China.

Select Publications

Peer-Reviewed Articles

  • 2023  “Hallucination of China Dream: Forbidden Voice, Articulation, and Schizophrenia in China.”   Medical Anthropology
  • 2021  “Bureaucratic Shiyuzheng”: Silence, Affect, and the Politics of Voice in China. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 11(3): 972-985.
  • 2020  “The Power of Aroma: Gender, Biopolitics, and Melodramatic Imagination in the Legend of Zhenhuan.” Feminist Media Studies 21(5): 707-720.
  • 2019  “Hidden Rules and The Heartache of Chinese Government Officials.” Made in China Journal. 4 (1): 36-41April 23, 2019.
  • 2019  “Unemployment and Mental Health in China.” Asia-Dialogue, April 15, 2019.
  • 2018  "‘Officials' Heartache’: Depression, Bureaucracy, and Therapeutic Governance in China." Current Anthropology 58 (5): 596-15.
  • 2017  “Virtuous Power: Ethics, Confucianism and Psychological Self-Help in China.”Critique of Anthropology 37 (2):179-200.
  • 2016  “The Politics and Regulation of Anger in Urban China.”Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 40 (1).
  • 2014  "Informal Surrogacy in China: Embodiment and Biopower." Body and Society DOI: 10.1177/1357034X14539357.
  • 2013  “‘Fake Happiness’: Counseling, Potentiality and Psycho-politics in China.” Ethos41 (3): 291-311.
  • 2013  "Peiliao ‘Companion to Chat’: Gender, Psychologization and Psychological Labor in China.” Social Analysis 57 (2): 41-58.
  • 2013  Pai Ma Pi: Flattery as Empty Signifiers and Social Control in a Chinese Workplace Social Semiotics 23 (5) doi: 10.1080/10350330.2012.752159/
  • 2012  “The Politics of Huanghua: Gender, Metaphors, and Privatization in China.” Language and Communication doi:10.1016/j.langcom.2012.08.003
  • 2012  Song Wennuan ‘Sending Warmth’: Unemployment, New Urban Poverty, and the Affective State in China.” Ethnography. doi:10.1177/1466138111435043
  • 2011  “The Politics of Dang’an: Spectralization, Spatialization and Neoliberal Governmentality in China.” Anthropological Quarterly 84 (2): 507-534.
  • 2011  “Nennu and Shunu: Gender, Body Politics and the Beauty Economy in China.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 36 (2): 333-357.
  • 2010  “The Crisis of Masculinity: Class, Gender, and Kindly Power in Post-Mao China” American Ethnologist 37 (3): 550-562.
  • 2007  “Zuiqian ‘Deficient Mouth’: Language, Gender and Domestic Violence in Urban China.” Gender and Language 1 (1):105-116.

Book Chapters and Encyclopedia Entries

  • 2023  (with Xiaowen Zhang) "Obligatory Death in Wuhan: The Power to Decide Who Died, and Therapies for Those Who Survived". In Globalization, Displacement, and Psychiatry Global Histories of Trauma. Edited By Sanaullah KhanElliott Schwebach. London: Routledge.  
  • 2022  “Confucius in a Self-Help Group.” Philosophy on Fieldwork: Critical Introductions to Theory and Analysis in Anthropological Practice, edited by Nils Bubandt and Thomas Schwarz Wentzer. London: Routledge.
  • 2021  Foreword. Ignorance is Bliss: The Chinese Art of Not Knowing by Mieke Matthyssen. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • 2021  “The Rise of the Therapeutic in China.” In Mental Health in China and Chinese Diaspora in the Asia-Pacific, edited by Harry Minas. New York: Springer.
  • 2020  “Counseling and Confucianism in China:  A New Twist on Tradition.” In The Routledge Handbook of Global Therapeutic Culture, edited by Daniel Nehring, Ole Jacob Madsen, Edgar Cabanas, China Mills and Dylan Kerrigan, 245-256. London: Routledge.
  • 2018  “Discourse, Gender and Psychologization in China.” The Routledge Handbook of Chinese Discourse Analysis, edited by Chris Shei, 310-322. London: Routlege.
  • 2018  “Biopower.” The International Encyclopedia of Anthropology, edited by Hilary Callen, 1-9.  Wiley-Blackwell.
  • 2018  “Happy Housewives: Gender, Class, and Psychological Self-Help in Urban China.” In Chinese Discourses of Happiness, edited by Gerda Wielander and Derek Hird, 129-149. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.
  • 2017  “Holistic Labor: Gender, Beauty and the Wellness Industry in China.” In Aesthetic Labour: Rethinking Beauty Politics in Neoliberalism, edited by Ana Sofia Elias, Rosalind Gill and Christina Scharff, 117-131. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.
  • 2014  “Introduction: Potentiality and Imagination: the Political Economy of Affect an Emotion in East Asia” In The Political Economy of Affect and Emotion in East Asia, ed. Jie Yang. Routledge.
  • 2014  “The Happiness of the Marginalized: Affect, Counseling and Self-Reflexivity in China” In The Political Economy of Affect and Emotion in East Asia, ed. Jie Yang. Routledge.
  • 2012  “Beauty Products and Health.”The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Health and Society, eds. William C. Cockerham, Robert Dingwall and Stella Quah. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • 2011  “Renqing, Privatization and Kindly Power in Post-Mao China.” In Along the Silk Road: Essays on History, Literature and Culture in China, eds. Darrol Bryant, Yan Li, and Judith Maclean Miller, 102-118. Pandora Press.
  • 2011  Zuiqian ‘Deficient Mouth’: Language, Gender and Domestic Violence in Urban China.” Language and Gender: A Reader. 2nd edition, eds. Jennifer Coates and Pia Pichler, 183-192. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • 2007  “Reemployment Stars”: Language, Gender and Neoliberal Restructuring in China. In Words, Worlds, Material Girls: Language, Gender and Global Economies, ed. Bonnie McElhinny, 73-102. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Book Reviews

  • 2016  Review of The Impotence Epidemic: Men’s Medicine and Sexual Desire in Contemporary China by Everett Yuehong Zhang. American Anthropologist 118 (4): 989-990.
  • 2014  Review of The “Specter” of the People: Urban Poverty in Northeast China by Mun Young Cho. American Ethnologist 41(3).
  • 2014  Review of Anxious Wealth: Money and Morality Among China’s New Rich by John Osburg. American Ethnologist 41 (4).
  • 2014  Review of A Localized Culture of Welfare: Entitlements, Stratification, and Identity in a Chinese Lineage Village by Kwok-Shing Chan. American Anthropologist 116 (4).

Awards & Funding

  • SSHRC Partnership Development Grant (2022-2025)
    "Learning from Chinese classics: Indigenous psychology and psychological care for China and the World"
  • SSHRC Insight Grant (2019-2024)
    “Officials’ Heartache: Gender, Double Binds, and Psychologization in China”
  • Francis L.K. Hsu Book Prize (2016), Society for East Asian Anthropology, American Anthropological Association
  • SSHRC Standard Research Grant (2011-2014)
    “Therapeutic Politics in China: Gender, Psychotherapy, and New Urban Poverty”
  • SSHRC 4A Grant (2009-2010)
    “Gender, Psychology and Therapeutic Authority in Contemporary China”
  • SSHRC Institutional Grant (2007-2009)
    "Governing the Urban Poverty and Mental Health Crisis in China"
  • SFU/President Start-up Research Grant (2007-2009)
    "'Green Olympics, Humane Olympics': Environment and Development in China"