Rachel works on the gender history of late imperial China, stretching broadly into the Republican period. Her research explores the changing dynamics of gender as it relates to modernity narratives, community cultures, and spatial transitions. Her work aims to shed light on autochthonous manifestations of women’s agency. She is currently working on examining the ways in which the introduction of Western biomedical hospitals and the teaching of biomedicine in China in the late Qing and early Republican periods opened new forms of spaces for Chinese women. Her work utilises a vast array of sources, including missionary records, legal cases, poetry and literature, newspapers, periodicals, and personal papers.
Recent academic work includes a research guide, published in collaboration with Adam Matthew Digital (Sage Publishing), on working with Church missionary sources. She is the Co-Convenor of the Women's History Network seminar series and serves as a Steering Committee member on the WHN Board, as well as a Senior Postgraduate Teaching Assistant at UCL.
Rachel’s previous work analysed the historical narratives of travel writing, focusing on the travelogues of Euro-American women travelling through the Qing empire in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She explored how these narratives relate to the broader themes of colonialism, imperialism, and (Western) imperial expressions of identity and agency.
Rachel completed her undergraduate degree in Law from the LSE in 2015, and her Master’s in Empires, Colonialism, and Globalisation (International History) from the LSE in 2018. She has previously worked as a lawyer and is very interested in all forms of socio-legal history, gender history, and decolonisation discourses.
Supervisor: Dr Lily Chang
Working Title: 'Pioneers and Professions, or Professional Pioneers: Chinese Women Professionals in the Late Qing and Early Republican Periods'.
Expected completion date: 2023
Papers & Publications
- Chua, Rachel Alexandra, “Using Church and Missionary Records as Primary Sources: The 1924 Annual Report of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society” in Research Methods Primary Sources (Marlborough: Adam Matthew Digital, 2021)
- "Review: Aiko Takeuchi-Demirci, Contraceptive Diplomacy: Reproductive Politics and Imperial Ambitions in the United States and Japan, Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2018. £21.27, 978-1-5036-0440-7 (paperback), pp. xv + 318," Women's History, Women's History Network, London, 2021, forthcoming.
- 'Space, Gender, and Medicine: Chinese Female Doctors in the Late Qing and Early Republican Periods', Women's History Network Spring/Summer Seminar Series, London (June 2021).
- 'Pioneers and Professions, or Professional Pioneers: Chinese Women Doctors in the Late Qing and Early Republican Periods', Studying Herstories, Women's History Network, London (March 2020).
Jamie Tibke, host, "From UCL - Rachel Chua on China, the Qing Empire, Western Missionaries, and the Cultural Revolution," Hardcore Humanities (podcast), 10 April 2021,