Research Clusters


      Core members

      Main Themes

      The Quantitative History (QH) Cluster is an interdisciplinary research initiative within the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IHSS). The QH Cluster focuses on the field of Quantitative History, employing innovative methodologies and approaches to investigate historical phenomena and patterns. With a diverse range of experts from various disciplines, including history, economics, sociology, and archaeology, our cluster aims to contribute to a deeper understanding of historical events, especially China’s development from prehistoric times to the present, and their broader implications. Through rigorous quantitative analysis of historical and archaeological data, we seek to uncover new insights and challenge existing narratives.

      The advent of the computer age and the digitization of numerous archives and archaeological reports in China and beyond have necessitated working with both prehistorical and historical 'big data. Recognizing the importance of quantitative history, the Institute has played a vital role in supplementing the key efforts driven by the HKU Business School. With the prestigious $74 million Areas of Excellence (AoE) grant, titled “Quantitative History of China: Historical Roots of Recent Success and Future Development,” Professor Zhiwu Chen, Principal Coordinator (PC) and the Institute Director, has taken the lead in this Cluster.

      The QH Cluster consists of four subclusters: (1) Ancient Roots from Quantitative Perspectives, including prehistory and early history of China based on archaeological and historical evidence and covering such topics as prehistoric development and its long-term impact, the rise and evolution of inequality, the rise of complex society and Chinese civilization, gender inequality, evolution of living standards, and land usage; (2) Culture, Religion and Long-Term Consequences, including topics such as the rise of Confucianism and its impact on development, the introduction of Christianity and its impact on China, drivers of regional cultures and their long-term impact on development; (3) State Capacity, Institutions and Development, including such topics as the origins and consequences of Chinese state capacity, the evolution and consequences of governance institutions, and the history of violence and social order in historical China; and (4) Financial History, Trade and the Rise of Hong Kong as a Financial Centre, covering topics such as the co-evolution of and competition between Confucianism and financial development, the introduction of modern technology and its impact on China’s financial development history, religion and trade globalization in Chinese history, the rise of HK as a global trade centre and an international financial centre.

      As part of this collaborative cluster, the Institute and the HKU Business School have jointly established the Centre for Quantitative History (CQH). This specialized platform serves as a focal point for research and dissemination efforts, providing a dedicated space to advance the field of quantitative history.

      The Centre for Quantitative History (CQH) is a focal institution for coordinating and conducting big data-based historical inquiries with quantitative methods to construct a holistic picture of China’s past development, sponsored by the HKU Business School. The focus of the Centre is on the study of the quantitative history of China. It is an area of excellence designated and funded by the Research Grants Council, a non-statutory advisory council functioning under the aegis of the University Grants Committee.
      CQH website:

      Leveraging the Institute's network in Humanities and Social Sciences, the Cluster aims to expand beyond the scope of the AoE grant and dedicate additional efforts to pre-modern Chinese history and Chinese archaeology. The Cluster strives to offer fresh insights into enduring challenges and innovative concepts within both fields. Our goal is to foster international collaborations and interdisciplinary studies, spanning diverse fields such as history, archaeology, economics, political science and urban development. We are also committed to promoting educational initiatives and raising public awareness regarding pre-modern Chinese history, Chinese archaeology, and cultural heritage.

      Job Opportunities

      Professor/Associate Professor on tenure terms or Tenure-Track Assistant Professor in Chinese Archaeology, joint with the School of Chinese, Faculty of Arts, HKU (Click here for more details)

      Professor/Associate Professor on tenure terms or Tenure-Track Assistant Professor in Pre-modern Chinese History, jointly in the School of Chinese and the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (Click here for more details)

      Professor in Chinese Economic History, with the possibility of joint appointment with HKU Business School (Click here for more details). 

      Events and Activities

      The QH Cluster actively promotes collaboration and intellectual exchange through workshops, webinars, seminars, lectures and conferences. These platforms provide opportunities for scholars, researchers and students to present their work, receive constructive feedback, and engage in meaningful discussions.

      Quantitative History Lunchtime Workshops
      The QH Cluster typically organizes closed-door workshops during Monday lunchtimes, providing an excellent opportunity for our PhD students and researchers to present their work in progress, including preliminary results, and receive valuable peer feedback and insights. These efforts are aimed at fostering collaboration, encouraging intellectual exchange, and contributing to the advancement of research across disciplines.


      Quantitative History Webinar Series
      The Quantitative History (QH) Webinar Series aims to provide researchers, teachers, and students with an online intellectual platform to keep up to date with the latest research in the field, promoting the dissemination of research findings and interdisciplinary use of quantitative methods in historical research. The QH Webinar Series, now entering its fourth year, is co-organized by Centre for Quantitative History at the HKU Business School and International Society for Quantitative History in partnership with the Institute. The Series is now substantially supported by the Areas of Excellence (AoE) Scheme from the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China (Project No. [AoE/B-704/22-R]).
      Explore the Series  

      Quantitative History Lecture Series
      As the city gets beyond the pandemic, we have resumed in-person events with the Institute hosting visiting scholars in the historic May Hall.
      Explore the Series

      Watch Replay

      Visiting Scholars in 2023/24:

      Clair Z. Yang (University of Washington), Visiting Assistant Professor (August – October 2023)

      Kaixiang Peng (Wuhan University), Visiting Professor (April – June 2023)

      Duol Kim (Myongji University), Visiting Professor (March – June 2023)

      Dongdong Li, Visiting Assistant Professor (February – August 2023)

      Yuexin Li, Visiting Assistant Professor (January – February 2024) 

      Zhan Lin, Visiting Associate Professor (January – August 2024)

      Debin Ma, Visiting Professor (January – July 2024)

      Event Highlights

      Annual Quantitative History Summer School and International Symposium

      In 2013, Professor Zhiwu Chen, Principal Coordinator (PC) and the Institute Director, together with his Co-PIs, started an annual 9-day summer school and international symposium for quantitative history to promote the proposed research approach to approximately 200 young and middle-aged scholars from more than 40 universities. These on-going efforts have yielded positive results in greater China and had a significant influence in Hong Kong.  

      Quantitative History Conferences

      The Centre for Quantitative History, in collaboration with our Cluster, hosted a two-day Area of Excellence-Quantitative History Conference in May Hall on October 25-26. The conference attracted some of the most eminent scholars in the field. Over 60 attendees from Asia, Europe, and North America gathered to explore the latest trends and ideas in quantitative history as part of the RGC-funded Area of Excellence project. The Area of Excellence-Quantitative History Conference 2023 showcased 16 innovative papers from scholars around the world, featuring 21 presenters and discussants. These papers employed the quantitative history approach, utilizing large datasets constructed from archives and archaeological records to reconstruct trends, analyze patterns, and assess causal relationships.

      Thank you to all presenters, discussants and attendees who made the first AoE-QH Conference a great success! We are grateful for your participation and contributions in making this event enriching and memorable.

      Connect with us

      X: @QuantHistoryHKU
      YouTube: @quantitativehistory
      WeChat Official Account: 量化历史研究- 微信公众号