Coleman R. Mahler

PhD Candidate

East Asia — China

My disseration is a comparative study of the "information orders" of the developmental states of the People's Republic of China and Republic of China from the early 1950s through the 1970s. Using the production of agricultural knowledge as a case study, I look at the ways that both states sought to create accurate sources of information to guide their state-led economic planning. Though both states were led by one-party governments (led by the Chinese Communist Party and Nationalist Party, respectively) and carried out land to the tiller movements, as well as subsequent agricultural cooperatization, they developed fundamentally different approaches to gathering crucial information on rural economic life. I look at how their different understandings of the role of expertise, the optimal relationship of grassroots agricultural units to the state, and the importance of politics to information gathering created diverging sets of information problems that both states had to overcome in their striving for rapid economic development.


Review: The Chinese Communist Party: A Century in Ten Lives, PRC History Review

Research Interests

  • Comparative Histories of Socialism
  • The Developmental State in East Asia
  • Legacies of Confucian Governance
  • Bureaucratic Cultures 
  • Nationalism and Colonialism
  • Political Economies of Information

Awards and Fellowships

2021 Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) Fellow 

Long-Ling Hsiao Chu and Chao Chi Chu Fellowship in Chinese Studies 

Kask Fellowship

2020 Joseph R. Levenson Chinese Studies Award

UC Berkeley Outstanding GSI Award

2019 Berkeley Center for Chinese Studies Language Study Grant; Funded by Republic of China East Asian Fund

Summer Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship: Chinese

2018 Summer Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship: Japanese