Ling Ma

Assistant Professor
Doty Hall 242

Dr. Ling Ma is a social and cultural historian of late imperial and modern China. She received her B.A. and M.A. in history from Peking University and her PhD from the University at Buffalo. Her research focuses on reproductive health, clinical practice, everyday life, as well as gender, law, and petty crimes in late nineteenth- and early 20th-century China.

She is completing a book manuscript tentatively titled Mortal Labor: Abortion, Childbirth, and Everyday Crisis in Early Twentieth-Century China. Her book focuses on a diverse set of rank-and-file players of varying nationalities, upbringings, occupations, and genders, who found themselves in the eclectic medical, legal, and cultural environment of late Qing and Republican China. It examines the ways in which these historical actors interacted with each other, negotiated their public/professional and personal lives, and addressed their reproductive needs, aspirations, crises through actions, words, and emotions.

Office Hours, Spring 2023

T/TH 12:30-1:30, and by appointment.

Curriculum Vitae


  • PhD, University at Buffalo

  • MA, Peking University

  • BA, Peking University

Scholarly Activities

  • Monograph in Preparation

    Mortal Labor: Abortion, Childbirth, and Everyday Crisis in Early Twentieth-Century China.

    Select Research Publications

    Select Book Reviews

    • Review of The Suicide of Miss Xi: Democracy and Disenchantment in the Chinese Republic, by Bryna Goodman, Twentieth-Century China, 47, no. 2 (May 2022)
    • Review of Reinventing Licentiousness: Pornography and Modern China, by Y. Yvon Wang, Choice, 59, no. 3 (November 2021)

    Recent Conference Presentations and Invited Talks

    • Panelist for “Standing Together: Patterns of Resistance in China and Iran: Celebrating March 8th—International Women’s Day,” RIT Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program Speaker Series, Rochester Institute of Technology, March 2023.
    • “Mortal Feelings: Fetal and Infantile Deaths as Experience and Memory in Republican China,” paper presented at the Association for Asian Studies 2023 Annual Conference, February, 2023.
    • “Men, Masculinity, and Childbirth in Late Qing and Republican China,” lecture for the Cornell Contemporary China Initiative “Engendering China” Lecture Series, Ithaca, New York, February, 2023.
    • “Rediscovering Abortion by Turning Away from It: Researching Abortion in Early Twentieth-Century China,” lecture for the “Globalizing Roe” Speaker Series, organized by the Willson Center, the Gender & History Workshop in the History Department, and the Institute for Women’s Studies at the University of Georgia, November 2022.

Signature Courses

  • History Matters: Women and Gender in East Asian History (HIST 112)
    History of Modern East Asia (HIST 282)
    The Art of Saying No: Dissent in Chinese History and Culture (HIST 284)
    Interpretations in History: Treaty-Port Shanghai (HIST 301)
    Modern China (HIST 476)
    Race, Class, and Gender (WGST 310)
    History of Unpopular Ideas (INTD 105)

Research Interests

    • Modern China
    • Women, Gender, and Reproduction
    • Law, Medicine, and Crime
    • Material Culture and Everyday Life
    • Death and Dying
    • Masculinity and the History of Emotions


  • HIST 301: Topic: Shanghai

    This is one of two required skills-based seminars in the History major and is focused on critical reading and analysis. This class introduces students to the concept of historiography, which includes the critical assessment of the methods and sources that historians use in fashioning an argument, the contexts that inform historians' approaches to understanding the past, and comparisons of different historians' conclusions about similar topics. All sections will focus on a specific set of historical issues and/or events chosen by the instructor and class content emphasizes critical reflection on the variety of historical interpretations that are possible within a given topic. This class is reading and writing intensive.

  • HIST 583: History of Death and Dying

    Everyone dies, but dying too has a history - a history that reflects and recreates culture. Although death is universal, the way in which it is thought of, experienced, and dealt with, varies in time and place. And precisely because death is universal, constant, and intimate, death offers an ideal foothold from which to view history in motion. This course will introduce some of the innovative ways in which recent scholarship has breathed new life into the subject of death and dying and transformed conventional views of history and history writing. It showcases, in particular, the methodologies and tools that researchers have developed to transcend Eurocentric paradigms, access the interior lives of ordinary people, and combine the exceptional with the everyday. Depending on the instructor's areas of expertise, the course may gravitate toward certain time periods, geographical areas, and subthemes.