Dr. Li Zhang

Visiting Assistant Professor
555 Social Science Tower

Key Research Area

Food, Agrarian, and Development Studies

Political Ecology, Science & Technology, and Public Health

Gender and Ethnic Studies

Professional Bio

Dr. Zhang’s doctoral research examined the current food safety crisis in China. Using ethnographic methods she researched both top-down government interventions and grassroots efforts for self-protection. She argues the commodification of food and farming is the fundamental driver of the crisis, and the bottom-up response is a “quiet social movement” for food sovereignty.

She is assistant editor the Report on Rural Revitalization in China, 2018-2019, the first nationwide research report on the Chinese government’s current top priority domestic policy, and she has published various journal articles on democracy and socialist theory, ecological agriculture, urban farming, the contradictions between top-down regulations and bottom-up responses to China‚Äôs food safety crisis, and the leadership of women in China’s food sovereignty social movement.

Dr. Zhang’s short monograph on COVID-19: China and Global Capitalism is currently under review, and she is developing new research projects in food, environment, gender, science & technology, and public health.

She is Research Fellow of the Cornell Contemporary China Initiative, Cornell University, since 2016. Prior to her appointment in the Department of Global and International Studies at UC Irvine, she was assistant professor of sociology at Henan Agricultural University, and research fellow at the China Agricultural University, College of Humanities and Development Studies.


PhD. 2017. China Agricultural University, College of Humanities and Development Studies

Co-advised by Dr. Gubo Qi and Dr. Philip McMichael, Department of Development Sociology, Cornell University