Professor Charles Stafford FBA

Professor Charles Stafford FBA


Department of Anthropology

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Key Expertise
China and Taiwan

About me

Charles Stafford is an Anthropologist of Taiwan, China and the USA. His research work has focused primarily on issues related to learning and cognition – including child development, emotion and identity, morality and ethics, and the psychology of economic life.

Professor Stafford's first major fieldwork project was conducted in the late 1980s in a Taiwanese fishing community where he examined child development through the lens of nationalist schooling and Taiwanese popular religion. This resulted in his monograph, The roads of Chinese childhood (Cambridge 1995). In the early 1990s he began to conduct research in mainland China on issues related to kinship, religion, and Chinese historical consciousness. He became especially interested in the rituals and practices of ‘separation’ and ‘reunion’ that structure the flow of social life in rural communities - see his Separation and reunion in modern China (Cambridge 2000).

More recently, his work has focused on the intersection between everyday moral/ethical life and economic psychology, including the psychology of cooperation. His recent edited books are Ordinary ethics in China (Bloomsbury 2013), and Cooperation in Chinese communities (Bloomsbury 2018). In his latest single author monograph, Economic life in the real world: logic, emotion and ethics (Cambridge 2020), he brings insights from Anthropology, Psychology and Economics into dialogue. His most recent periods of fieldwork have been carried out in the US ‘heartland’ state of Oklahoma, where he has been studying patterns of kin and non-kin cooperation. 

Expertise Details

China; Taiwan and the USA; learning; schooling and child development; cognitive anthropology; the relationship between learning and economic life.