Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
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Luyang Zhou

Associate Professor in Sociology at Zhejiang University
Postdoctoral Fellow in International and Public Affairs, 2018-2020


Luyang Zhou holds PhD degree in sociology from McGill University at Montreal, and received his BA and MA, both in sociology too, from Renmin University at Beijing. Zhou’s research interests are anchored in comparative historical sociology, exploring the linkage between empire and revolution. Zhou’s doctoral dissertation compares the Bolshevik and Chinese communist revolutions, over two leaderships’ national identities, military backgrounds, experiences of repressions, and strategies of controlling armies. Zhou is now expanding his thesis into a book manuscript, which compares the two revolutions’ relationships with nationalism. This book project interprets communist revolution as a response to a late-developing dilemma – the end of empire in the absence of nation-state.


My first project explores the ideological inclusiveness of nationalism – why it succeeds in incorporating extreme leftism in some societies but fails to do so in others. This project explains why the Bolshevik and the Chinese communist revolutions were moving in opposite directions: the Bolshevik went against the established Russian nationalism to build a supranational Soviet empire, while the CCP strove to cultivate a Chinese nationalism to reorganize the Qing empire’s territory. Explanation is drawn from the differences between the two revolutions in temporality: timing, sequence, duration, and tempo.

My second project explores how empires technically fall apart. Because of the long-engineered integration, quitting an empire brings about huge costs. However, such costs yield varied outcomes, decelerating the breakup of empires in some places while accelerating it elsewhere. This project explains this variation by first comparing how the former Soviet states quitted the Soviet military system and then extending to multiple cases. It concentrates on the role of leading elites that ascended in populist-nationalist turmoil.


Luyang Zhou, 2019,“Nationalism and Communism as Foes and Friends: Comparing the Bolshevik and Chinese Revolutionaries”, European Journal of Sociology, Volume 60, Issue 3, 313-350

Luyang Zhou, forthcoming, “After Empire: The Breakup of the Soviet Military Establishment in 1992 and 1993”, Journal of Historical Sociology

Luyang Zhou, 2019, “Historical Origins of the Party-Army Relations in the Soviet Union and China”, Communist and Post-Communist Studies. Volume 52, Issue 3, 197-207

Luyang Zhou, 2019 “Two Communist Revolutions: A Hallsian Comparison of Russia and China”, in States and Nations, Power and Civility: Hallsian Perspective, edited by Francesco Duina, University of Toronto Press.

Luyang Zhou, 2018 “Boosting Nationalism with Non-Nationalist Ideology: A Biographical Analysis of the Chinese Communist Leading Revolutionaries”, Nations and Nationalism. Volume 24, Issue 3, 767-791

Luyang Zhou, 2014, “Why Communists Accepted Communism: A Biographical Analysis of the CCP’s 7th Central Committee Members” (in Chinese), 21st Century, Hong Kong, Vol. 143, 22-37

Luyang Zhou, 2014, “Patriotism on People’s Daily (1950-2011)” (in Chinese), 21st Century, Hong Kong, Vol.141, 45-56

Book Review

Luyang Zhou, Review of Revolutions: Structure and Meaning in World History by Said Amir Arjomand, Contemporary Sociology, Vol. 49(3), 235-37

Luyang Zhou, 2019, “Stalin and Mao: Comparing the Russian and Chinese Revolutions by Lucian Bianco”, Journal of Chinese Political Science, Vol. 24(2), 379-80 

Luyang Zhou, 2015, “The Resilience of Socialist Regimes: on Why Communist Regimes did not Collapse: Understanding Authoritarian Resilience in Asia and Europe by Martin Dimitrov” (in Chinese), 21st Century, Hong Kong, Vol. 150, 107-119 


INTL1803V: Revolutions that Changed the World