School of Social and Political Science

Francesca Bray

Job Title

Professor Emerita

Research interests

Research interests

Topics interested in supervising

I am no longer accepting new students.


I began my research career working on the history of agriculture and of science, technology and medicine in China. After a wonderful year of ethnographic fieldwork, which I spent in Kelantan, Malaysia splashing through the mud of paddy-fields and learning from farmers how they negotiated the challenges of Green Revolution technology, I expanded my interests to anthropology and issues of rural development. More recently, through my interest in the macro- and micro-politics of everyday technologies (including food, housing, communications and hygiene), I have become involved in collaborative projects not only with anthropologists, historians and development studies specialists, but also with STS scholars, and I have recently served as President of the international Society for the History of Technology (SHOT).

Current collaborative research projects include: Moving crops and the scales of history; Making modernity in East Asia: technologies of everyday life, 19th - 21st centuries

For my online study of California's toilet culture, soon to be revived and updated, see

Recent and key publications

Science and Confucian Statecraft in East Asia, ed. Francesca Bray and Jongtae Lim, Leiden, Brill 2019.

‘Science cultures’, in Laura Grindstaff, Ming-Cheng Lo and John R. Hall (eds), Routledge Handbook of Cultural Sociology, 2nd ed., 2019: 446-455.

‘Feeding the farmers, feeding the nation: the Long Green Revolution in Kelantan, Malaysia’, in James L. Watson and Jakob Klein (eds), Handbook of Food and Anthropology, London: Bloomsbury, 2016: 173-199.

Rice: Global Networks and New Histories (Cambridge, 2015):

Technology, Gender and History in Imperial China: Great Transformations Reconsidered (Routledge, 2013):

'Tools for virtuous action: technology, skills and ordinary ethics', in Charles Stafford (ed): Ordinary Ethics in China (LSE Monographs on Social Anthropology, 2013):

Works within