Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
China Initiative
Shanni Zhao

Shanni Zhao

China Initiative Postdoctoral Fellow


Shanni Zhao is an social and cultural anthropologist. She received her Ph.D. from Anthropology Department at Harvard University with a secondary field in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Her research interests focus on urban governance, state-making, affect and sentiments, public and mediation, marriage and social reproduction, in both contemporary and 20-Century China.


Shanni Zhao’s book project takes state-sponsored matchmaking as a vantage point to study the formation of affective publics in China’s metropolises, and, thereby, the relations between marriage-making and state-making, and between power and attraction.


“Transgenerational Transmission of Suffering: State Violence, Memory, and Aspiration for Alternative Intimate Lives in Contemporary China.” Ethos: the Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology (Berkeley, Calif.), 2023.