Stafford, Charles

Professor Charles Stafford  


Position held

Professor of Anthropology


Experience keywords:

China; Taiwan; anthropology of learning; child development; cognition; economic psychology; learning and nationalism; religion; ritual; social anthropology

Research summary > [Click to expand]

Charles Stafford is a specialist in the anthropology of China and Taiwan. His research has focused on child development, kinship, religion, morality and economic psychology. Along with his colleague Rita Astuti, he is currently working on issues related to general problems of human cooperation. What are the psychological and social building blocks that make cooperation possible? Professor Stafford's first fieldwork project was conducted in a Taiwanese fishing community where he examined child development through the lens of nationalist schooling and popular religion. This resulted in his monograph, The roads of Chinese childhood (Cambridge 1995). He then conducted research on issues related to kinship, religion and Chinese historical consciousness. He became interested in how patterns of "separation" and "reunion" help structure the flow of life in rural communities - see Separation and reunion in modern China (Cambridge 2000). His work now focuses on the intersection between everyday moral life and economic psychology. His most recent book is Ordinary ethics in China (Bloomsbury 2013), and he has a forthcoming book, Logic and emotion and Chinese economic life, to be published in 2016. He has also been directing a new project in the American heartland on "Cooperation within families and inequality between families".

Countries and regions to which research relates:

China; Taiwan

Media experience:

Radio; TV

Contact Points

LSE phone number:

+44 (0)20 7955 6241



Carsten, Janet and Day, Sophie and Stafford, Charles (2018) Introduction: reason and passion – the parallel worlds of ethnography and biography Social Anthropology, 26 (1). ISSN 0964-0282

Stafford, Charles (2018) Moral judgements close to home Social Anthropology, 26 (1). ISSN 0964-0282


Das, Veena and Al-Mohammad, Hayder and Robbins, Joel and Stafford, Charles (2015) There is no such thing as the good: the 2013 meeting of the group for debates in anthropological theory Critique of Anthropology, 35 (4). 430-480. ISSN 0308-275X

Stafford, Charles (2015) Being careful what you wish for: the case of happiness in China HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, 5 (3). 25-43. ISSN 2049-1115


Stafford, Charles (2014) Deception, corruption and the Chinese ritual economy Working papers, Asia Research Centre (ARC), The London School of Economics & Political Science, London, UK.


Stafford, Charles (2013) Introduction: ordinary ethics in China today In: Stafford, Charles, (ed.) Ordinary Ethics in China Today. LSE monographs on social anthropology. Bloomsbury Academic, London, UK. ISBN 9780857854599

Stafford, Charles (2013) Some good and bad people in the countryside In: Stafford, Charles, (ed.) Ordinary Ethics in China. LSE Monographs on Social Anthropology Series (1st). Bloomsbury Academic, London, UK. ISBN 9780857854599

Stafford, Charles (2013) What are we comparing China with? Field Research Method Lab Blog (18 Dec 2013) Blog entry

Stafford, Charles, ed (2013) Ordinary ethics in China LSE monographs on social anthropology. Bloomsbury Academic, London, UK. ISBN 9780857854599


Stafford, Charles (2012) Misfortune and what can be done about it: a Taiwanese case study Social Analysis, 56 (2). 90-102. ISSN 0155-977X


Stafford, Charles (2011) Living with the economists Anthropology of This Century (1).

Stafford, Charles (2011) Book review: What Confucius would make of it: governing educational desire: culture, politics and schooling in China By Andrew Kipnis and drink water, but remember the source: moral discourse in a Chinese village By Ellen Oxfeld Anthropology of This Century, 2. ISSN 2047-6345


Stafford, Charles (2010) Some qualitative mathematics in China Anthropological Theory, 10 (1-2). 81-86. ISSN 1463-4996

Stafford, Charles (2010) The punishment of ethical behaviour In: Lambek, Michael, (ed.) Ordinary Ethics: Anthropology, Language, and Action. Fordham University Press, New York, UK, 187-206. ISBN 9780823233175


Stafford, Charles (2009) Numbers and the natural history of imagining the self in Taiwan and China Ethnos, 74 (1). 110-126. ISSN 0014-1844


Stafford, Charles (2008) Linguistic and cultural variables in the psychology of numeracy Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 14 (s1). 128-141. ISSN 1359-0987

Stafford, Charles (2008) Actually existing Chinese matriarchy In: Brandtstädter, Susanne and Santos, Gonçalo D., (eds.) Chinese Kinship: Contemporary Anthropological Perspectives. Routledge Contemporary China Series. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, Abingdon, UK, 137-153. ISBN 9780415456975


Stafford, Charles and Astuti, Rita and Parry, J. P, eds (2007) Questions of anthropology London School of Economics monographs on social anthropology, 76. Berg, London, UK. ISBN 9781845207496

Stafford, Charles (2007) What is interesting about Chinese religion In: Sarro, Ramon and Berliner, David, (eds.) Learning Religion: Anthropological Approaches. Methodology and history in anthropology, Vol.17. Berghahn Books, Oxford, UK, 177-190. ISBN 9781845453749

Stafford, Charles (2007) What is going to happen next? In: Astuti, Rita and Parry, Jonathan and Stafford, Charles, (eds.) Questions of Anthropology. London School of Economics monographs on social anthropology (76). Berg, Oxford, UK, 55-76. ISBN 9781845207489


Stafford, Charles (2006) Deception, corruption and the Chinese ritual economy In: Latham, Kevin and Thompson, Stuart and Klein, Jacob, (eds.) Consuming China: Approaches to Cultural Change in Contemporary China. ConsumAsian series. Routledge, London, UK, 42-55. ISBN 9780700714025


Stafford, Charles (2004) Introduction: Learning and economic agency in China and Taiwan. Taiwan Journal of Anthropology, 2 (1). 1-10. ISSN 1727-1878

Stafford, Charles (2004) Two stories of learning and economic agency in Yunnan Taiwan Journal of Anthropology, 2 (1). 171-194. ISSN 1727-1878


Stafford, Charles (2003) Living with separation in China: anthropological accounts RoutledgeCurzon, New York, US. ISBN 0415305713

Stafford, Charles (2003) Language and numerical learning in rural China and Taiwan Terrain, 40. 65-80. ISSN 0760-5668


Stafford, Charles (2000) Separation and reunion in modern China Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. ISBN 9780521784344

Stafford, Charles (2000) Chinese patriliny and the cycles of Yang and Laiwang In: Carsten, Janet, (ed.) Cultures of Relatedness: New Approaches to the Study of Kinship. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 35-54. ISBN 9780521656276


Stafford, Charles (1999) Separation, reunion and the Chinese attachment to place In: Internal and International Migration: Chinese Perspectives. Chinese worlds, Vol. 1 (1st). Curzon Press, London. ISBN 9780700710768

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