UCLA » College » Social Sciences » History

Richard Von Glahn

Distinguished Professor

Contact Information

Office  9278 Bunche Hall
Phone  310-825-3087

Economic and social history of China, 10th-18th centuries; monetary history; comparative economic history; global economic integration, 1000-1800; East Asian maritime history, 1000-1800. 

After completing an undergraduate degree majoring in Chinese at Connecticut College, I pursued graduate study in Chinese history at UC Berkeley (M.A.) and Yale University (Ph.D., 1983). I held postdoctoral fellowships at Harvard and the University of Rochester and an assistant professorship at Connecticut College before I joined the UCLA faculty in 1987. My primary field of research is the economic and social history of premodern China, with a particular focus on the period 1000-1700. My publications include four monographs in Chinese history, several edited books, and a co-authored textbook in world history. My research has been supported by a number of awards, including National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships (twice) and a Guggenheim Fellowship.  My most recent book is The Economic History of China from Antiquity to the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge, 2016). Among my current projects, I am co-editing (with Debin Ma of the London School of Economics) The Cambridge Economic History of China (scheduled for publication in 2021) and serving as a senior editor for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia for Asian History, an on-line resource for scholars. In addition, I continue to pursue research in Chinese monetary history, especially the interrelationship between China’s monetary system and wider spheres of monetary circulation within Asia and on a global scale, and have embarked on a new project on the economic history of maritime East Asia from the ninth to the eighteenth centuries.

In addition to teaching courses on all periods of Chinese history, I teach a range of undergraduate and graduate courses in world history.


Ph.D., Yale University, 1983; M.A., University of California, Berkeley, 1977; B.A., Connecticut College, 1975


Selected Publications


The Country of Streams and Grottoes: Expansion, Settlement, and the Civilizing of the Sichuan Frontier in Song Times. Council on East     Asian Studies, Harvard University, 1987. 

Fountain of Fortune: Money and Monetary Policy in China, 1000-1700. Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1996. 

The Song-Yuan-Ming Transition in Chinese History. Co-edited with Paul Jakov Smith. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2003.

Monetary History in Global Perspective, 1470-1800. Co-edited with Dennis O. Flynn & Arturo Giráldez. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate Press, 2003. 

The Sinister Way: The Divine and the Demonic in Chinese Religious Culture. Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2004. 

The Economic History of China from Antiquity to the Nineteenth Century.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016.

World in the Making: A Global History. Co-authored with Bonnie Smith, Marc van der Mieroop, and Kris Lane. Oxford University Press, 2019. 

Recent Articles:

“Modalities of the Fiscal State in Imperial China.” Journal of Chinese History 4.1 (2020): 1-29. 

 “The Political Economy of the East Asian Maritime World in the Sixteenth Century.”  In  East Asia in the World: Twelve Events that Shaped the Modern International Order, pp. 44-64. Ed. Stephan Haggard and David C. Kang.  Cambridge University Press, 2020.

 “The Changing Significance of Latin American Silver in the Chinese Economy, 16th-19th Centuries.”  Revista de Historia Económica - Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History (2019): 1-32.

“The Maritime Trading World of East Asia from the Thirteenth to the Seventeenth Centuries.” In Picturing Commerce in and from the East Asian Maritime Circuits, 1550 to 1800, pp. 57-85.  Ed. Tamara H. Bentley.  Amsterdam University Press, 2019.

“Economic Depression and the Silver Question in Nineteenth Century China.”  In Global History and New Polycentric Approaches: Europe, Asia, and the Americas in a World Network System (XVI-XIXth Centuries), pp. 81-117.  Ed. Manuel Pérez García and Lucio de Sousa.  Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.

“Paper Money in Song-Yuan China.”  In Money, Currency and Crisis: In Search of Trust, 2000 bc - ad 2000, pp. 248-66.  Ed. R.J. van der Spek and Bas van Leeuwen. Routledge, 2018.

“Beyond the Great Divergence: Current Scholarship on the Economic History of Premodern China.” In A Companion to Chinese History, pp. 315-26.  Ed. Michael Szonyi.  Wiley/Blackwell, 2017

“State Formation in China from the Sui through the Song Dynasties.”  In The Cambridge History of the World, vol. 5, pp. 505-524.  Ed. Benjamin Z. Kedar and Merry Weisener-Hanks.  Cambridge University Press, 2015.

“Chinese Coin and Changes in Monetary Preferences in Maritime East Asia in the 15th-16th Centuries.” In Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 57.5 (2014): 629-68.

“The Ningbo-Hakata Merchant Network and the Reorientation of East Asian Maritime Trade, 1150-1300.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 74.2 (2014): 251-81.

Current Courses by Term