Prof.dr. H.G.D.G. (Hilde) De Weerdt

  • Professor
  • Chinese history

Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 6505
Faculty / Department: Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, Leiden Institute for Area Studies, SAS China
Office Address: Arsenaal
Arsenaalstraat 1
2311 CT Leiden
Room number 0.04

Inaugural lecture


Chinese translation (main text only): Chongsu Zhongguo zhengzhi shi 重塑中國政治史, Hanxue yanjiu tongxun 漢學研究通訊 34:2 (2015), 1-9 (Fu Yang, tr.).

Fields of interest

  • Chinese intellectual history
  • Political culture
  • Information networks
  • Urban and environmental history
  • Comparative historical methods
  • Digital methods for humanities research


Hilde De Weerdt works on imperial Chinese intellectual and political history focusing on the question of how elite networks shaped Chinese politics. Her first book is an intellectual history of the civil service examinations. Her latest book examines the formation of a new information regime in imperial Chinese history, characterized by the production and dissemination of court- and polity-related texts by cultural elites (literati) instead of the court and high officialdom. It also examines the impact of this shift in cultural production on political identities and the structure of the polity.

In recent years Professor De Weerdt has also been engaged in the creation of digital tools (MARKUS: Classical Chinese Text Analysis and Reading; with Brent/Hou Ieong Ho) and the teaching of digital methods for use in research and teaching. 

Current projects include “Communication and Empire” and “Digging into Data: Automating Chinese Text Extraction”.

Teaching activities

I teach undergraduate and graduate courses in

  • Chinese history (beginnings to 19th C)
  • Topics in Chinese history (ca 800-1300)
  • Primary sources for historical research (ca 600-1400)
  • Topics in Chinese intellectual history

Curriculum vitae

Hilde De Weerdt joined the Leiden Institute for Area Studies in 2013. She obtained her PhD from Harvard University and held postdoctoral fellowships at the University of California at Berkeley, Stanford University, and Harvard University.

She was also a visiting scholar at Kyoto University, Academia Sinica (Taibei), Beijing University, Sichuan University, Shanghai Normal University, Osaka City University, National Tsing Hua University, and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. Before coming to Leiden she was University Lecturer in Chinese History at the University of Oxford and Fellow of Pembroke College (2007-2012) and Reader in Chinese History (2012-2013) at King's College London.

Key publications

Information, Territory, and Elite Networks: The Crisis and Maintenance of Empire in Song China. Manuscript under submission.

Competition over Content: Negotiating Standards for the Civil Service Examinations in Imperial China (1127-1276). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2007. 508 pp.

Knowledge and Text Production in an Age of Print--China, Tenth-Fourteenth Centuries, co-edited with Lucille Chia. Leiden: Brill, 2011. 446 pp.

"Chinese Cities, 600-1400." In Handbook on Global Cities. Ed. Peter Clark, pp. 292-308. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

“Maps and Memory: Readings of Cartography in Twelfth- and Thirteenth- Century Song China.” Imago Mundi: International Journal for the History of Cartography 61:2 (2009), 145-167.

Select Recent Media Appearances


Promises, Promises: A History of Debt,” interviewed for series of radio programmes which appeared on BBC4 in March 2015.


“Eenheid China: feit en fictie,” Leidsch Dagblad, 12 november, 2014, pp. 12-13.


The Battle of Talas,” In Our Time, BBC4 Radio. Appeared live October 9, 2014


Supermachten: China,” NTR Academie, Radio 5. Appeared live February 4, 2014


Sources of Early Chinese History,” In Our Time, BBC4 Radio. Appeared live January 23, 2014

Ancillary positions: Editor


Journal of Asian Studies / associate editor (Chinese and digital history)


Association for Asian Studies


Journal of Chinese History/ associate editor


Cambridge University Press


Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought / East Asia editor


Cambridge University Press


History of Humanities / associate editor


University of Chicago Press


海外中国思想史译丛/book series: western monographs on Chinese intellectual history in Chinese translation    

Zhejiang University Press


Open Library of Humanities, East Asia


East Asian Publishing and Society

Brill Academic Publishers

Board memberships

International Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis/International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam

International Institute for Asian Studies, Leiden (Academic Committee)

Society of Sung-Yuan Studies

Stichting ter bevordering van de studies van China aan de Universiteit Leiden/Fund for the Promotion of China Studies at Leiden University

Last Modified: 28-07-2015