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

Inger Mewburn

Kicking the can down the road: How to create research impact in seven (not so easy) steps

06/06/2023 at 17.30

We hear terms like ‘research impact’ and ‘engagement’ all the time, but what does ‘impact’ and ‘engagement’ actually look like in practice?

selection of books written by Professor Inger Mewburn

Productivity workshops for researchers with Prof. Inger Mewburn aka The Thesis Whisperer

10/06/2023 at 10.00

Join Professor Inger Mewburn, also known online as the Thesis Whisperer, for one or both workshops to help increase your productivity: Getting sh!t done and Building a second brain (for writing)

'You' by Gavin Fry

Art Exhibition: 'Things Put Differently'

10/06/2023 at 10.00

Visit Wolfson's latest exhibition 'Things Put Differently' featuring Gavin Fry and works by Anthony Green and Mary Cozens-Walker.

Photo of artist Gurpran Rau holding a piece of her artwork

Art Exhibition: 'Patterns of Renewal'

10/06/2023 at 10.00

We're delighted to be the first to display Gurpran Rau's latest exhibition 'Patterns of Renewal', featuring a series of paintings created during lockdown inspired by her walks in the woods of Cambridgeshire.