Rowena He

Senior Research Fellow | Civitas Institute

Rowena He 何曉清 is a China specialist and historian of modern Chinese society and politics. She is interested in the nexus of history, memory, and power, and their implications for the relationship between academic freedom and public opinion, human rights and democratization, and youth values and nationalism. Her first book, Tiananmen Exiles: Voices of the Struggles for Democracy in China was named Top Five Books 2014 by the Asia Society’s China File. The book has been reviewed in the New York Review of Books, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New Statesman, Spectator, Christian Science Monitor, China Journal, Human Rights Quarterly, and other international periodicals. Her research has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), 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. 

Dr. He received the Harvard University Certificate of Teaching Excellence for three consecutive years for the Tiananmen courses that she created. She joined the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2019 and received the Faculty of Arts Outstanding Teaching Award in 2020 and 2021. In October 2023, she was denied a work visa to return to her position as an Associate Professor of History at CUHK. She has also taught at Wellesley College and Saint Michael’s College.

Dr. 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 US Congressional hearing, and delivered lectures for the US State Department and the Canada International Council. Her scholarly opinions are regularly sought by the ABC (Australia), Al Jazeera, Associate Press, BBC, CBC, CNN, CTV, Financial TimesGlobe and MailGuardianInside Higher EducationLe Monde, NPR, NBC, the New York Times, Reuters, Time, Times Higher Education, Wall Street Journal, and other international media outlets. She was designated among the Top 100 Chinese Public Intellectuals 2016.

Born and raised in China, she received her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto.