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

Two nature photographs, one of someone hiking and one of a hare.

Open Call: Wolf Words Poetry Anthology 2024

27/11/2023 at 09.00

We are excited to launch an open call for the second edition of our Wolf Words Poetry Anthology; this year our theme is Wild. 

WRE 2023 - an audience member asking a question

Writing an abstract workshop

30/11/2023 at 19.00

This workshop is organised to help students prepare to be part of the Wolfson Research Event 2024.


A photo of a pocket watch open for repair

A Duty to Repair?

01/12/2023 at 18.00

How can you introduce protection of the environment into consumer contract law when this is detrimental to the protection of the consumer?

Artwork of white tree with an orange sky in the background by Tim Head.

Art Exhibition: 'How It Is'

02/12/2023 at 10.00

Visit Wolfson's latest exhibition 'How It Is' featuring work by the influential British artist Tim Head.

Hand holding a lightbulb in front of the sky

Entrepreneurship Workshop for Students

02/12/2023 at 13.00

An interactive session during which students can gain insight into the sphere of entrepreneurship.