John Wagner Givens is an Asian Studies Center Associate and adjunct Professor at the University of Pittsburgh. He previously held positions as a post-Doctoral Research Associate at the Center for Asian Democracy at the University of Louisville, an Associate Lecturer at the University of the West of England, and a Visiting Scholar at Nankai University in Tianjin.

John’s research interests span a range of topics including law, foreign policy, and political economy, but he specializes in ostensibly liberal institutions in nondemocratic regimes. He is currently working on a book manuscript on lawyers that sue the Chinese state. With Jason Abbott and Andrew MacDonald he has co-authored an article comparing the politics on new media in China and Malaysia. Some of his other current projects look at the political impact of the Internet in China, media bias and elections in Malaysia, and research methods in China. He has published in several journals, including the Wisconsin International Law Journal, Taiwan Journal of Democracy, and St Antony’s International Review.

John’s teaching experience includes Comparative Government, Chinese Law, Chinese Foreign Policy, Chinese Political Economy, Chinese Culture and Social Identity, and the Government and Politics of China.

John blogs for the Huffington Post and other outlets, and has appeared on Chinese Central Television’s international news channel. 

John has received a Research Award from the Research Center for Chinese Politics & Business at the University of Indiana, a Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, a Research Grant from the Leverhulme Trust, and a Clarendon Fund Scholarship from the University of Oxford.

John was briefly a member of Hong Kong’s only bluegrass band and owns what is presumably the world’s only seersucker Mao suit, which was paid for by China Central Television.

DPhil, University of Oxford, Politics, 2013
MA, University of California, Berkeley, Asian Studies, 2007
BSFS, Georgetown University, Culture and Politics, 2003


Awards and Honors

Invited Conference Presentations and Talks

  • “关于人权律师的域外理论与实践 [Global Human Rights Lawyering in Theory and Practice]” University of Hunan Law School, China, November 2014.
  • “The Beijing Consensus is Neither: Is a Rising China Really Trying to Challenge the Washington Consensus?” Louisville Committee on Foreign Relations, February 2014.
  • “Tax Reforms, Land Seizures, and Protests in Rural China” University of Pittsburgh, February 2014.
  • Suing Dragons? Taking the Chinese State to Court” Research Center for Chinese Politics and Business, University of Indiana, November 2013.
  • “Sampling: Studying the Chinese State More Systematically” Understanding Contemporary China: Glancing Back and Looking Forward, Oxford Contemporary China Studies Program, University of Oxford, July 2012.
  • “Sleeping with Dragons? Politically Embedded Lawyers Suing the Chinese State” Wisconsin International Law Review Symposium, University of Wisconsin, Madison; also: Law and Society Association Annual Meeting, June 2012.
  • “法律在美国解决社会纠纷中所扮演的角色 [The Role of Law in Resolving Social Problems in the US]” Training Talk for Chinese Judges, Police, and Prosecutors, Hunan University, December 2010.
  • “Roundtable on Asian Cause Lawyers” Law and Society Association Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, June 2011.
  • “美国遗产规划市场的简介 [An Introduction to the US market for Estate Planning]” & “Perceptions of China in the Western Media” Gansu Zhengtianhe Law Firm, May 2010.

Selected Publications and Media Work