Sally Church

Dr Sally K Church


  • Position Director of Studies Emeritus Fellow
  • Subject areas East Asian Studies
  • Personal website Orcid
  • Department Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
  • Email

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 picture of the Item and Food donate and take during Wolfson's Freshers Week 2021

Item&Food donate'n'take 2022

18/06/2022 at 09.00

A circular economy at Wolfson. A collaboration of the Wolfson Green Society, Student Association and Interdisciplinary Sustainability & Conservation Hub.

Kill or Cure poster

Art exhibition: 'Kill or Cure'

25/06/2022 at 10.00

Lethal or life-giving? Wolfson's exciting contemporary art exhibition explores the potential of animals, plants, and substances from the natural world to ‘Kill’ and/or ‘Cure’ (open to the public, Saturday and Sundays, 10am - 5pm).

Judas Tree

Festival of Wellbeing: Wolfson's Tree Trail

27/06/2022 at 10.00

A self-guided Tree Trail around the beautiful and varied garden 'rooms' of the grounds of Wolfson College.

Graduands preparing for graduation ceremony

Graduation Ceremony - General Admission

02/07/2022 at 09.30

This is the main graduation ceremony at which most undergraduate students proceed to their first degree at the end of their final term.

Wolfson Garden in spring

Festival of Wellbeing: Mindful Garden Tour

06/07/2022 at 14.00

Join head gardener Oscar Holgate for a mindful wander through Wolfson College’s tranquil gardens.