Aidan Lee

PhD Candidate

East Asia: China

I am a Ph.D. student in the History department at the University of California, Berkeley. I earned my Bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia, and completed my Master's degree at the University of Chicago, where I examined how physical education and sports functioned as techniques of colonial assimilation in Japanese-ruled Taiwan. I am broadly interested in twentieth-century transnational East Asian history, with a particular geographic interest in Taiwan. For my doctoral research, I am examining the connections between ethnic identity formation, settlement patterns, and the built and natural environment in twentieth century Taiwan. I have become particularly interested in the relationship between the Kuomintang state and the roughly one million mainland migrants that traveled to Taiwan in the years after 1949. The majority of these migrants settled in urban areas, leading to a massive housing shortage and population crisis. In response, the state carried out massive infrastructure, housing, and land development projects to ameliorate this population pressure, but which also had a variety of unforeseen consequences. My goal is to explore how this crisis informed state policies, including how urban population problems affected the vast Taiwanese rural land reform project that was carried out in the 1950s and '60s.

Research Interests

  • Urbanization
  • Housing and Property Law
  • Land Development and Infrastructure
  • Ethnicity
  • Identity Formation
  • Cold War History

Awards & Fellowships

FLAS Summer Language Fellowship (French), 2023

UC Berkeley Social Science Matrix Communications Fellowship, 2023

FLAS Academic Year Language Fellowship (Advanced Japanese), 2022-23

EAJPC Judges Recommendation Award for Junior Researchers, 2021

Remembering Taiwan's Martial Law Conference, Best PhD Paper Prize, Australian National University, 2021

T.T. and W.F. Chao Scholars Fellowship, 2020 - present

Dean’s Scholarship, University of Chicago, 2018-2019

Bernard Peyton Chamberlain Memorial Prize, Best Distinguished Major Thesis (History), University of Virginia, 2017

Harrison Undergraduate Research Award, 2016


"View from the Bamboo Fence: Remembering Kuomintang Statecraft through Taiwan’s Juancun," Remembering Taiwan's Martial Law Conference, Australian National University, Canberra (virtual), July 2021

"Games of Empire: The Sportive Heritage of Japanese Taiwan," East Asian Popular Culture Conference, Taipei, Taiwan (virtual), January 2021

"Game of Empire: Baseball, Assimilation, and Representations of Japanese Taiwan," Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs at Michigan State University, East Lansing, October 2019

"Modern Games for a Model Colony: Assimilation by Baseball in Colonial Taiwan, 1895-1937," MAPSS Graduate Research Conference, the University of Chicago, Chicago, May 2019


"Mapping the Los Angeles Ethnoburbs: An Interview with Margaret Crawford," Social Science Matrix, University of California, Berkeley. Nov. 8, 2023. URL: