Chinese History, Environmental History


Peter Lavelle is a specialist in Chinese history during the long nineteenth century. His research focuses on topics related to the environment, science and technology, agriculture, and colonialism. He is working on a book about Chinese agricultural science and development from the 1870s to the 1920s. His research has been supported by funding from a variety of sources, including the Henry Luce Foundation/American Council of Learned Societies and the Fulbright Program. He received his B.A. from Grinnell College and his Ph.D. from Cornell University. Before joining the faculty at Temple, he was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute of Modern History at Academia Sinica in Taipei, Taiwan.

Selected Publications


  • The Profits of Nature: Colonial Development and the Quest for Resources in Nineteenth-Century China. New York: Columbia University Press, 2020. 

Articles and Chapters

  • "Tools for Overcoming Crisis: Agriculture, Scarcity, and Ideas of Rural Mechanization in Late Qing China." Agricultural History 94, no. 3 (Summer 2020): 386-412.
  • “Agricultural Improvement at China’s First Agricultural Experiment Stations,” in Denise Phillips and Sharon Kingsland, eds., New Perspectives on the History of Life Sciences and Agriculture (Cham, Switzerland: Springer International, 2015), 323-344.
  • “The Aesthetics and Politics of Chinese Horticulture in Late Qing Borderlands,” in Liu Ts’ui-jung, ed., Environmental History in East Asia: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (London: Routledge 2014), 213-242.

Courses Taught

  • Development and Globalization (HIST 0862)
  • Introduction to East Asia: China (HIST 2501)
  • East Asian Environmental History (HIST 2680)
  • Contemporary China (HIST 3522)
  • China and the World in the Age of Empire--Writing Seminar (HIST 3697)
  • Global Environmental History (HIST 8800)
  • Seminar in International History--Writing Seminar (HIST 9208)