Professor • Director, Center for Asian Studies

*Professor Tim Oakes is currently on sabbatical for the Spring 2017 semester.


Ph.D., Geography, University of Washington, 1995
M.A., Geography, Univerity of Washington, 1991
B.A., Asian Studies, Colby College, 1987

CAS Speaker Bureau Topic(s)

Contemporary Chinese culture and society; tourism; regional development; urbanization; leisure studies

Regional and Thematic Interests

East Asia
Cultural Studies; Government/Political Systems; Media Studies; Environment


Tim Oakes is Professor of Geography and Director of the Center for Asian Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Currently he also holds positions as Visiting Professor at Guizhou Minzu University in Guiyang, China, and Wageningen University, Netherlands. Oakes received his B.A. in Chinese literature from Colby College, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Geography from the University of Washington. Oakes teaches courses on the geography of China, cultural geography, development geography, qualitative field methods, and world regional geography. His research lies at the juncture of human geography, contemporary China studies and critical tourism studies, and has established a path of distinctive understanding about the new cultural landscape in China, with particular concern for different ways that governments harness symbolic culture and social life for economic development. The author of Tourism and Modernity in China (1998), his many publications also include Faiths on Display: Religion, Tourism, and the Chinese State (2010) and Translocal China: Linkages, Identities, and the Reimagining of Space (2006). His journal articles appear in the Journal of Asian StudiesChina QuarterlyModern China, and positions: east asia cultures critique, among others.

Selected Publications

2016. Wang, J., T. Oakes, and Y. Yang (eds.). Making Cultural Cities in Asia: Mobility, Assemblage, and the Politics of Aspirational Urbanism (London & New York: Routledge).

2015. Sin, H.L, T. Oakes, and M. Mostafanezhad. Traveling for a cause: critical examinations of volunteer tourism and social justice. Tourist Studies 15(2): 119-131.

2013. Oakes, T. Heritage as improvement: cultural display and contested governance in rural China. Modern China 39(4): 380-407.

2012. Klingberg, T. and T. Oakes. Producing exemplary consumers: tourism and leisure culture in China's nation-building project. In L. Jensen and T. Weston (eds.), China In and Beyond the Headlines (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield), 195-213.

2012. Oakes, T. Making an empty show of strength: media and the politics of discernment in China’s place branding projects. In W. Sun and J. Chio (eds.) Mapping Media in China: Region, Province, Locality (London & New York: Routledge), 161-175.

2012. Oakes, T. Looking out to look in: the use of the periphery in China’s geopolitical narratives. Eurasian Geography and Economics 53(3): 315-326.

2011. Oakes, T. Laser tag and other rural diversions: the village as China's urban playground. Harvard Asia Quarterly 13:3 (Fall), 25-30.