Song Chen is an Assistant Professor of Chinese History at Bucknell University. He received his Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University in 2011. His research focuses on state-society relations in China between the eighth and the eighteenth century. His dissertation traces the evolution of a decentralized structure of governance in Sichuan (a southwestern region of China) during these centuries and the concomitant transformation of the political elite into a group with deep roots in local society and wide regional connections beyond local borders. His article “Local Society under a Decentralized Rule: The Case of Sichuan in Song Dynasty” is currently being translated into Japanese for publication in Japan.
Song Chen is also actively exploring new ways of studying and teaching history in the digital age. His research combines prosopography, network analysis, and historical GIS to reveal macrohistorical patterns that had been hitherto buried in large quantities of historical sources as disparate anecdotes. He was the Project Manager for China Biographical Database Project (CBDB) between 2006 and 2010 and was appointed to the steering committee in 2011. CBDB is an online relational database, which currently contains about 120,000 historical figures and is being expanded to cover the Chinese elite over the last 2000 years. Since 2007 he has given talks at various occasions and published on using CBDB in historical analysis with the aid of network visualization techniques. In 2010 he was a fellow in the NEH institute at UCLA on “Networks and Network Analysis for the Humanities.”