Shellen X. Wu is associate professor of history at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She holds a PhD in history from Princeton University. Her first book, Empires of Coal: Fueling China’s Entry into the Modern World Order (Stanford University Press, 2015), narrates the history about how Chinese views of natural resource management underwent a major change as a result of the late Qing engagement with imperialism and science. Each chapter addresses a different facet of this change in worldview, and the book as a whole demonstrates that by the end of the nineteenth century China and the West had converged in a crucial measure of modern, industrialized states: the theory and exploitation of natural resources, particularly fossil fuels.
Her research interests are in the history of the geo-sciences in modern China. She is currently working on a second book on the rise of geopolitical discourses in twentieth-century China. This book project traces the historical roots of geopolitical discourse in China and connects Chinese geopolitical concerns to the global circulation of ideas on agricultural development, land settlement, and frontiers.