Professor Rachel Murphy

BA Murdoch, MA Oxf, PhD Camb

Rachel Murphy is Professor of Chinese Development and Society at the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies. She obtained her doctorate in Sociology at the University of Cambridge in 1999 funded by an external studentship from Trinity College. She was previously a British Academy Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Development Studies at Cambridge. She has much institution-building experience having been former Research Director of OSGA (2019-2023), former Senior Tutor at St Antony’s College (2022-2023), and former Head of OSGA (2014-2018).

Her disciplinary expertise sits at the intersections of language-based Chinese studies, development studies, sociology, and anthropological demography. She also has interests in the intersections of media communications and sociology. Over twenty years she has conducted ethnography, interviews, documentary research and surveys in villages, townships, and cities, and has spent more than six years in mainland China and several months in Taiwan.

Rachel’s new research explores the everyday use of technologies in migrant families in mainland China. Her most recent monograph, The Children of China’s Great Migration (Cambridge University Press, 2020; paperback edition 2022), supported by a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship, drew on longitudinal fieldwork with children, their caregivers and migrant parents who hailed from two landlocked provinces in eastern China. Reviews of this book appear in The China Journal, The China Quarterly, Journal of Ethnic and Racial Studies, Journal of Agrarian Change and The Developing Economies. Her first monograph, How Migrant Labor is Changing Rural China (Cambridge University Press, 2002) examined return migrant business creation in China’s rural hinterlands.

With Man-Yee Kan and Francesca Tucci, Rachel co-ordinates a Social Science Division network hub on Global Gender in an Era of Care Crises ( ). Rachel is a former President of the British Association for Chinese Studies (BACS) ( (September 2019 – September 2022). She is a member of the ICARDC Network Steering Committee on agriculture and rural development in China.  She is also planning academic activities on family and migration in Taiwan as part of the Oxford Taiwan Studies Programme. Rachel sits on the editorial board of Modern China and has previously served on the editorial committees of The China Quarterly (executive), Sustainability, and Sociological Research Online.