Department of Anthropology and the College
Alice Yao’s research focuses on the impact of the Han Empire’s conquest of frontier regions and seeks to explain the variable ways different communities and social classes responded to momentous changes in local history. Currently she is conducting an archaeological survey project in southwestern China, which aims to recover the settlement sites of a local Bronze Age polity known as the Dian before its incorporation by the Han Empire. This ongoing project investigates the genesis of the Dian polity in relation to control over bronze production and the regional trade network developing between China and Southeast Asia. Part of Yao’s focus also deals with the fact that “concepts of ethnicity and statehood” were fairly abstract notions in terms of defining large nations, multiculturalism, and individuals.
Yao was a recipient of research grants from the Social Science Humanities Research Council of Canada, the National Science Foundation, and the American Council of Learned Societies/Luce Foundation.
Yao earned her PhD in archaeology from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Michigan in 2008. She also received her MA in archaeology from the same institution in 2005 and was awarded a BA in 1999 from the University of Chicago.
Yao joined the University of Chicago faculty in 2012.