Sally Church

Dr Sally K Church


Sally does research in Chinese history in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, the Centre of Development Studies and the Needham Research Institute.

Sally Church

Sally is an Affiliated Researcher in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, a Research Associate in the Centre of Development Studies, and a Research Associate in the Needham Research Institute. She is also Director of Civilizations in Contact, a UK registered educational charity (Reg. No. 1148995) dedicated to the promotion of intercultural understanding.

Sally completed her BA at Middlebury College (Vermont), her MA at the University of Chicago, and her PhD at Harvard University. Her doctoral research was in Chinese Literature with a concentration on Ming and Qing Fiction and Drama. She came to the UK in 1996 and taught occasionally in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge. She also supervised students in Literary Chinese in the Faculty for a number of years. In recent years shifted back to her undergraduate focus on Chinese history, primarily of the Ming period but also earlier periods. 

She became a Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College in 1999 and served as a Tutor from 2001 to 2017. She was also International Student Liaison Officer at Wolfson from 2004 to 2017. She is currently Director of Studies for Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at three colleges: Wolfson, St Edmund's and Hughes Hall.

Research interests

Sally’s current research is on the overland and maritime Silk Road in pre-modern Chinese history. She has written on Zheng He's 15th century maritime expeditions to Southeast Asia, India, the Middle East and East Africa, and on the contemporaneous overland diplomatic missions of Chen Cheng. She is currently working on a new translation of Faxian's (399-414 CE) travels, and a translation of the Longjiang Shipyard Treatise of the 16th century. In the Centre of Development Studies she focuses on Chinese travel accounts of Central Asia.

Sally is currently is collaborating on two projects at Chinese universities, funded by the Chinese government. One is on the Silk Road at the Yellow River Civilization Research Centre in Henan University, Kaifeng, and the other is on 13th-14th century travel literature under the Pax Mongolica at Zhejiang Normal University in Jinhua. She has recently been commissioned by Brill to edit and coordinate a translation of an academic study of the Silk Road authored by the Chinese scholar Rong Xinjiang.

What's on

A triptych of three plant-themed paintings: the left shows large leaves, the center features a dark forest scene, and the right depicts vibrant, stylized foliage and flowers.

Art Exhibition: 'Life Within Landscapes'

09/06/2024 at 10.00

Explore Wolfson's newest exhibition, 'Life Within Landscapes', showcasing works by three Cambridge-based female contemporary artists, inspired by their Caribbean heritage.

Promotional graphic for Wolfson May Ball 2024, themed "dreamscapes," featuring an illustration of a figure in a canoe with a lantern and a silhouette of a face on a wavy backdrop.

Wolfson May Ball 2024: Dreamscapes

21/06/2024 at 20.00

Step from one dreamscape to the next, on a journey from restful lullabies to surrealist whimsy to thrilling nightmares, and emerge forever changed…

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Foundation Day Celebrations

28/06/2024 at 10.00

It's Wolfson's birthday! Wherever you are in the world, celebrate with us at one of our Foundation Day events.

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Graduation Ceremony - General Admission

29/06/2024 at 09.00

Graduation ceremonies are the culmination of students’ hard work and commitment, and a moment to celebrate the completion of their Cambridge degree.

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Entrepreneurship Hub End of Year BBQ

07/07/2024 at 14.00

Please join us at Wolfson for a BBQ to celebrate all that has been achieved during the Entrepreneurship Hub's first year.