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Gregory Ruf

Associate Professor




  • Biography

    Ruf was raised in upstate New York and attended SUNY Cortland as an undergraduate, where he majored in Political Science. He spent 1982-83 as an exchange student in Beijing, and then won a scholarship for a year of advanced language study in Taiwan. He received his Ph.D in Cultural Anthropology from Columbia University (1994), where he also earned a Certificate of Specialization in Modern China from Columbia’s East Asian Institute (1989). A past recipient of the An Wang Postdoctoral Fellowship at Harvard’s Fairbank Center for East Asian Research (1994-95), Ruf was also awarded a Fulbright Research Fellowship as a Visiting Scholar at Yunnan University’s Department of Anthropology (2001-02). He has taught at Drew University, Harvard University, and Wellesley College. At Stony Brook, Ruf served as inaugural Director of Undergraduate Studies in AAS, and is currently Director of the China Studies (CNS) program; previously, he also served as inaugural Faculty Director of the Community Service Learning (CSL) Program, an interdisciplinary undergraduate minor.

    Professor Ruf's interests include the intersections of anthropology and history, specifically in areas relating to politics and law, rural development, social ecology and environmental management, social organization and gender, as well as theoretical and methodological issues in ethnographic research and writing. His research focuses on historical processes in the political ecology of agrarian states, particularly the social and cultural context of human behavioral interaction with the environment. His recent work has focused on water resources and environment management in China.

    Professor Ruf is an Associate Professor holding a joint appointment in Asian and Asian American Studies and Anthropology, and is part of the graduate faculty in the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in Anthropological Sciences (  Ruf teaches courses on 1) Revolutionary China; 2) Environmental History of China; 3) Ancient China; 4) Family, Marriage, and Kinship in China; 5) Ethnicity and Ecology in China; and 6) the China Studies seminar on ancient Chinese classical texts. In 2009, he led a month-long study tour that took students through six different provinces of China.

  • Publications

    Selected Publications:

    Cadres & Kin: Making a Socialist Village in West China, 1921-91 (Stanford University, 1998)

    • “Collective Enterprise and Property Rights in a Sichuan Village: The Rise and Decline of Managerial Corporatism,” in Oi & Walder (eds.), Property Rights and Economic Reform in China (Stanford University, 1999)

    • "Reflections of the Field, from the Field," in Liu Xin (ed.), Reflections on the Anthropology of China (Berkeley: University of California, 2004)




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