Dr Helena F.S. Lopes

BA, DPhil, MA, MA

  • BS8 1TB

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Personal profile

Research interests

I am a historian of modern China and global history. My research focuses on the international, political, and social history of the Second World War and the early post-war period in East Asia, including imperialism(s) and anti-imperialism in twentieth century China. I am also interested in histories of Chinese migration and of Portuguese communities in China, as well as in Chinese/Sinophone cinemas.

I am a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at the Department of History. My current research project investigates Chinese state and non-state interactions with European colonial powers that ruled territories in South China in the 1940s: Britain, France, and Portugal. It analyses the interconnection between the movement of people, expressions of Chinese anti-imperialist nationalism, and the exercise of European colonialism in Hong Kong, Guangzhouwan, and Macau. This comparative and transnational study rethinks the entangled histories of World War Two, Cold War and decolonisation in South China, as well as its global connections. Based on multilingual and multi-sited research this project sheds new light on China-Europe relations at a time of great transition: from war to post-war and Cold War, from Nationalist to Communist rule, and from imperial domination to global decolonisation.

I studied in Lisbon, London, Taipei, and Oxford, and hold a DPhil in History from St Antony’s College. I have worked with sources in five languages and conducted research in five continents. My research has been funded by the Leverhulme Trust, the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), and the Arts and Humanities Research Council, among others. I have presented research findings at various seminars, conferences, and workshops in different countries, and have (co-)organised panels for international conferences of the Association for Asian Studies, the British Association for Chinese Studies, the Nordic Association for China Studies, the Second World War Research Group, the European Congress on World and Global History, and the International Convention of Asia Scholars.

I am committed to public engagement and have been playing an active role in knowledge dissemination through events and platforms open to all. I was one of founding convenors of the International History of East Asia Seminar, held at the Oxford China Centre since 2016 and that I co-organised until 2019. I was the leading organiser of Bristol’s Asian History Seminar in the 2020-21 academic year. Alongside colleagues in Anthropology, History, and Music based at different institutions, I am a member of the interdisciplinary network Colonial Ports and Global History. You can read more about our latest event, the international conference ‘Myriad Materialities: Towards a New Global Writing of Colonial Ports and Port Cities’ here. I worked with Bristol’s digital humanities project Historical Photographs of China as a Senior Research Associate in the History of Hong Kong in 2019-20.



I am finishing a monograph on neutrality and collaboration in the South China enclave of Macau during the Second World War.

I have published on refugees in Hong Kong and Macau, post-war Sino-Portuguese relations, the relocation of schools and refugee students from mainland China and Hong Kong to Macau during the Second World War, the history of the Red Cross in Macau (here and here), Portuguese Eurasian POWs in Hong Kong and Japan, and representations of a global World War Two in Chinese cinema. I have written blog posts for Visualising China, Refugee History, Project Macau History, and the Cambridge Core Blog.



In recent years, I have taught modern Chinese history and global history units (among others), and supervised dissertations at the University of Bristol and at the University of Oxford.

I was a Lecturer in Modern Chinese History at Bristol in 2019-20 and I have been convening and teaching the third-year special subject Internationalising Modern China since then. I have also taught Global History and History in Public.

Before joining Bristol, I was a full-time Departmental Lecturer in Modern East Asian History at Oxford’s Faculty of History and Merton College (2017-19).

Structured keywords and research groupings

  • Decolonisation


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