Yanfei Sun

Photo by Dingxin Zhao

Yanfei is currently an associate professor of sociology at Zhejiang University. She then graduated from the University of Chicago with a PhD in sociology in 2010. Yanfei was also a Mellon Research Fellow of Columbia University Society of Fellows from 2010–2013, a fellow at Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin from 2023–2024, a visiting associate professor at Harvard University, and a lecturer at the University of Chicago. Yanfei's fields of interest include the sociology of religion and political sociology. She studies religious changes, religious movements, religious toleration, secularism, and religious nationalism. Recent research has extended to the historical-comparative study of empires and nation-states. Her work has appeared in the American Journal of Sociology, Theory, and Society, Modern China, Social Compass, and leading Chinese sociological journals such as Sociological Studies, Sociological Review of China, The Twentieth Century, as well as many book chapters. Yanfei's 2017 article in the American Journal of Sociology and her 2019 article on Theory and Society received the Distinguished Article Award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion in 2018 and 2020 respectively.

At THE NEW INSTITUTE, Yanfei will be involved in the program Bitter Victory: Is Victory possible in the 21st Century? She will be joining us in the fall term of 2024.


Beyond Nation-States: Pitfalls and Pathways, Sociological Review of China, 2022

Zero-sum Evangelism and Religious Toleration of Pre-Modern Empires, Sociological Studies, 2019

Reversal of Fortune: Growth Trajectories of Catholicism and Protestantism in Modern China, Theory and Society, 2019

The Rise of Protestantism in Post-Mao China: State and Religion in Historical Perspective, American Journal of Sociology, 2017

Popular Religion in Zhejiang, Southeast China: Feminization, Bifurcation and Buddhification, Modern China, 2014

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