Rowena He
Senior Research Fellows, UT Austin
2024 Speaker

Rowena He is a China specialist and historian of modern and contemporary Chinese society and politics. As a scholar of Tiananmen, the 1989 pro-democracy movement, she is interested in the nexus of history, memory and power, and their implications for academic freedom, public opinion, human rights and democratization in local and global contexts. Her first book, Tiananmen Exiles: Voices of the Struggles for Democracy in China, was named to the Top Five Books 2014 by the Asia Society’s China File. Her research has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada), Harvard’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, the National Humanities Center and the Civitas Institute at the University of Texas Austin.  

He is passionate about teaching. She has taught at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), Harvard University, Wellesley College and Saint Michael’s College. She received the Harvard University Certificate of Teaching Excellence for three consecutive years for the Tiananmen courses she created. At CUHK, she received the Faculty of Arts Outstanding Teaching Award 2019–20 and 2020–21. In October 2023, she was denied a work visa to return to Hong Kong for her academic position as an associate professor of history at CUHK. 

He publishes and speaks widely beyond the academy. Her op-eds have appeared in The Washington Post, The Nation, The Guardian, The Globe and Mail, and The Wall Street Journal. She has been a keynote speaker for the Canada Human Rights National Symposium, testified before a U.S. congressional hearing, and delivered lectures for the U.S. State Department and the Canada International Council. She was designated among the Top 100 Chinese Public Intellectuals 2016. Born and raised in China, she received her PhD from the University of Toronto.