Gordon Barrett

Gordon Barrett

(BAH (Mount Allison), MPhil Modern Chinese Studies (Oxon), PhD (Bristol))

Departmental Lecturer in Modern Chinese History & Politics
IR, Comparative Politics and Government
Office Address:
University of Oxford China Centre, Dixon Poon Building, Canterbury Road, Oxford, OX2 6LU

My research focuses on the politics of science and science diplomacy in modern China and the Cold War. My research has examined the roles played scientists and scientific organisations in the early foreign relations of the People’s Republic of China. These scientists were singularly effective intercultural intermediaries who, being embedded in overlapping transnational epistemic and activist networks, won sympathy and support for the People’s Republic of China among foreign intellectuals. This study complicates longstanding narratives of China’s ‘closure’ and ‘isolation’ from international science during the 1950s and 1960s. It also shows that new and developing states like the PRC were as keen as the Cold War superpowers to utilise international organisations and events as tools for cultural diplomacy and propaganda.

Tied to my interest in the development of Sino-British scientific relations, in 2015 I was a British Inter-University China Centre Early Career Researcher at the University of Bristol, working on a Cultural Engagement Partnership project with the Needham Research Institute, Cambridge. This project focused on digitising photographs and diaries relating to Dr. Joseph Needham’s British Council-sponsored activities as head of the Sino-British Science Cooperation Office, 1943-1946. This material is now available via the Cambridge University Digital Library. I also created a ‘pop-up’ exhibition entitled ‘Chinese Wartime Science through the Lens of Joseph Needham’, which showcases material from this collection and has been shown in Cambridge, Bristol, and London.

I teach on PPE 227: Politics in China and contribute lectures to 212: International Relations in the Era of the World Wars and 213: International Relations in the Era of the Cold War. I am supervising students on the MPhil International Relations and MPhil Politics (Comparative Government). For the MPhil IR, I have taugh on The Development of the International System and Contemporary Debates in IR Theory, and in 2016-17, I was course convenor for The International Relations of East Asia.

For the History Faculty, I teach on FS29: China Since 1900 and GHXIV: The Global Twentieth Century, 1930-2003, and lecture on GHXIX: Imperial and Global History, 1750-1914 at the undergraduate level. I supervise for the MSt Global and Imperial History and teach on Concepts and Themes in Global and Imperial History, and The History and Historiography of Modern China.

Barrett, Gordon. ‘China's "People’s Diplomacy" and the Pugwash Conferences, 1957-1964’. Journal of Cold War Studies, Vol. 50, No. 1 (Winter 2018), 140-169.

Barrett, Gordon. ‘Between Sovereignty and Legitimacy: China and UNESCO, 1946- 1953’.  Modern Asian Studies (FirstView 2019). 

Barrett, Gordon. 'Minding the Gap: Zhou Peiyuan, Dorothy Hodgkin, and the Durability of Sino-Pugwash Networks' in A. Kraft and C. Sachse (eds.), Science, Peace and Communism: The Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs in the Early Cold War Decades (Brill, forthcoming 2020).