Christopher Heurlin

Associate Professor of Government and Asian Studies

Teaching this semester

ASNS 2060/GOV 2440. Contemporary Chinese Politics

Examines the history and politics of China in the context of a prolonged revolution. Begins by examining the end of imperial rule, the development of Modern China, socialist transformations and the establishment of the PRC. After a survey of the political system as established in the 1950s and patterns of politics emerging from it, the analytic focus turns to political change in the reform era (since 1979) and the forces driving it. The adaptation by the Communist Party to these changes and the prospects of democratization are also examined. Topics include political participation and civil society, urban and rural China, gender in China, and the effects of post-Mao economic reform.

GOV 2486. The Politics of Dictatorship: Authoritarian Resilience and Democratization

Despite the end of the Cold War, dictatorship has persisted, even thrived. At least 40 percent of states in the world remain authoritarian. Introduces students to the social and political logic of dictatorship. Explores questions such as: Where do dictatorships come from? Why might people support dictatorships? What effect does dictatorship have on political, economic, and social outcomes? How do dictatorships differ from one another? Why are some dictatorships resilient and stand the test of time while some quickly collapse? When dictatorships collapse, why are some dictatorships replaced by other dictatorships, while others democratize? Concentrates on the post-World War II era and explores the dynamics of dictatorship in regions throughout the world, including the Middle East, Latin America, Asia, Europe, and Africa.

Christopher Heurlin specializes in comparative politics with a focus on Chinese politics. His book, Responsive Authoritarianism in China, examines the impact of protests on policymaking.  His other areas of research include NGO politics and institutional trust. Currently, he is writing a book on the enduring power of communism in Asia. The project contrasts the collapse of communism in Mongolia and Cambodia with the continued resilience of communism in China, North Korea, Vietnam and Laos. Prof. Heurlin's teaching focuses on the politics of dictatorships, protests, and Chinese politics.


  • Ph.D., University of Washington; Seattle, WA, 2011
  • M.A. , University of Washington; Seattle, WA, 2006
  • B.A., Carleton College; Northfield, MN, 2002

PDF Curriculum Vitae

Major Publications

Responsive Authoritarianism: Protest and Policymaking in China. (Cambridge University Press, 2016) (225 pages)

“Fighting for Every Inch of Land: Greed and Grievance in Petition Mobilization in Zhejiang” Modern China, (forthcoming). (43 pages).

“Land Protests in Rural China” in Teresa Wright’s Handbook of Dissent and Protest in China, Edward Elgar Publishing (under contract). Note: unlike most “Handbook”-type series which consist primarily of literature reviews, the Handbook of Dissent and Protest in China is comprised entirely of original research. (28 pages).

“(Dis)Trusting NGOs in China” in Reza Hasmath and Jennifer Hsu (eds.) NGO

Management and Governance in China, (Routledge, 2015). (18 pages)

“Power and Rule by Law in Rural China: State-Initiated Mediation in Land Disputes,” Co-authored with Changdong Zhang in Fu Hualing and John Gillespie (eds.)  Resolving Land Disputes in East Asia. (Cambridge University Press, 2014) (25 pages).

“Old Laws, New Citizens: Confidence in Legal Institutions in the Former East Germany” German Politics (2012) 21 (4), pg. 411-428 (18 pages).

“Governing Civil Society: The Political Logic of NGO-State Relations Under Dictatorship,” VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations (2010), 21 (2), pg. 220-239 (20 pages).

Under Review

“Beyond Precarious: The Rise of Unemployment among Landless Farmers in China” (Revise and Resubmit at Journal of Contemporary China) (34 pages).

“Authoritarian Aid and Regime Resilience: Donor-Recipient Institutional Complementarity and Soviet Aid during the Cold War” (34 pages).