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null Covell Meyskens, Ph.D.

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Contact Info

(831) 656-3293
Office Address:
Glasgow Hall, Room 312

Associate Professor, Academic Associate for Curricula 682 and 688

Expertise: China, East Asia, Modern World History


Dr. Covell Meyskens is a historian of modern China interested in security, development, and great power competition in East Asia and the Indo-Pacific. His first book, Mao's Third Front: Militarization of Cold War China, was published by Cambridge University Press. It examines how the Chinese Communist Party industrialized inland regions in order to protect socialist China from American and Soviet threats, merging Cold War geopolitics with the everyday lives of millions. His second book project is titled The Three Gorges Dam: Building a Hydraulic Engine for China. Through studying Chinese efforts to construct the Three Gorges Dam over the course of the twentieth century, his second book seeks to explain how the Chinese government transitioned from having big unrealizable developmental dreams to being at the helm of a powerful technocracy that is now expanding China’s global influence through massive energy projects that are reshaping the socioeconomic landscape and ecological infrastructure of countries worldwide. Currently, he is in the process of developing a third project on changing conceptions of national security in modern China. Dr. Meyskens also curates a website of images of everyday life in Maoist China. His research has been supported by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, NPS Naval Research Program, Fulbright International Institute of Education, and Fulbright-Hays Commission.


Teaching Interests:

History of Modern China

Science, Technology, and Society

History of East Asia

Modern World History

Awarded the Lieutenant Commander David L. Williams Outstanding Professor Award (2021)




Meyskens, Covell. Mao’s Third Front: The Militarization of Cold War China (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020). 


Refereed journal articles:

Meyskens, Covell. “Rethinking the Political Economy of Development in Mao’s China.” positions: asia critique (November 2021): 1-19. (Forthcoming)

Meyskens, Covell. “Dreaming of a Three Gorges Dam amid the Troubles of Republican China.” Journal of Modern Chinese History (October 2021): 1-20. (Forthcoming)

Meyskens, Covell. 2020. “Experiencing the Cold War at Shanghai’s Secret Military Industrial Complex.” Cold War History (2020): 1-19.

Meyskens, Covell. “Chinese Views of the Nuclear Endgame in North Korea.” Nonproliferation Review Vol. 26, No. 5/6 (2019): 1-19.

Meyskens, Covell. “Third Front Railroads and Industrial Modernity in Late Maoist China.” Twentieth Century China 40 (2015): 238-260.

Meyskens, Covell. “Le Monde Selon Katrina [The World According to Katrina].” Drôle d’époque 17 (2005).

Meyskens, Covell. “Guerre et Race dans le Pacifique: Signes et Pratiques [War and Race in the Pacific: Signs and Practices].” Drôle d’époque 16 (2005)

Meyskens, Covell. “Liquidite, Capital, Souvrainete [Liquidity, Capital, Sovereignty].” Lignes 16 (2005).


Book chapters:

Meyskens, Covell. “1964: The Massive Military Industrial Campaign to Defend China Against American and Soviet Imperialism.” In Landscapes of Chinese Labour: A History of China’s Working Class, edited by Ivan Franceschini, Kevin Lin, Nicholas Loubere, and Christian Sorace. London: Verso, 2022. (Forthcoming)

Meyskens, Covell. “Mao’s Communist Party Dictatorship: Origins and Development.” In Dictators and Autocrats: How They Obtained Power and Managed Holding onto it, edited by Klaus Larres, 1-23. London: Routledge, 2021. (Forthcoming)

Meyskens, Covell. “Labour,” in The Afterlives of Chinese Communism: Political Concepts from Mao to Xi, eds. Ivan Franceschini, Nicholas Loubere, and Christian Sorace (London: Verso, 2019). 

Meyskens, Covell. “Building a Dam for China in the Three Gorges Region, 1919-1971.” In Water, Technology, and the Nation-State, edited by Erik Swyngedouw and Filippo Menga, 207-222. London: Routledge, 2018.


Review Essays:

Meyskens, Covell. “Inequality and Social Stratification in Mao’s China.” Twentieth Century China 43 (2018): 196-203.

Meyskens, Covell. “Searching for Security: Prospects for Peace in Sino-Foreign Relations.” Journal of International and Global Studies 5 (2014).


Policy Commentary

Meyskens, Covell. “There Never Was a Cold War China.” The Wilson Center, Cold War International History Project, September 9, 2020.


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