Robert J Shepherd

Adjunct Professor of Anthropology & International Affairs
[email protected]

Areas of Expertise

China, human rights, international development

Robert researches heritage, human rights, and development issues in China and Indonesia. In his pre-academic life he lived for nine years in Asia, where he served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Nepal, worked on United Nations Development Program projects in China and Indonesia, and taught at Taiwan's Chung Hsing University. He is the editor of the journal Critical Asian Studies and China Course Coordinator for the Department of State's Foreign Service Institute.


Current Research

"Thinking Beyond Liberalism: Human Rights in Theory and Practice."


PhD, George Mason University


(December 2017). Rethinking Cosmopolitanism: Tourists and Tourism in Theory and Practice (edited volume). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

(2017). “Cosmopolitanism Nationalism and the Heritage of Shame: Comfort Women Memorials and the Legacy of Slavery in the United States." International Journal of Cultural Policy.

(2017). “UNESCO’s Tangled Web of Preservation: Community, Heritage, and Development in China.” Journal of Contemporary Asia 47 (4): 557-574.

(2015) “Why Heidegger did not Travel: Existential Angst, Authenticity, and Tourist Experiences.” Annals of Tourism Research 52:2 (May 2015): 60-71.

(2014) “Civilization-Making and its Discontents: The Venice Charter and Heritage Policies in China.” Change Over Time: An International Journal of Conservation and the Built Environment 4:2 (Fall 2014), 388-403.

(2013) Faith in Heritage: Displacement, Development, and Religious Tourism in Contemporary China. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press/Routledge.

(2013) With Larry Yu, Heritage Management, Tourism and Governance in China: Managing the Past to Serve the Present. Multidisciplinary Perspectives in Archeological Heritage Management ICOMOS series, New York: Springer Press.

(2012) Partners in Paradise: Tourism Practices, Heritage Policies, and Anthropological Sites. New York: Peter Lang.

(2012) With Larry Yu and Gu Huimin, “Tourism, Heritage and Sacred Space: The Case of Wutai Shan, China.” Journal of Heritage Tourism (7:2), 145-161.

(2011) “Historicity, Fieldwork, and the Allure of the Post-Modern: A Reply to Ryan and Gu.” Tourism Management (32:1), 187-190.

(2009) “Cultural Heritage, UNESCO, and the Chinese State: Whose Heritage and for Whom?” Heritage & Society 2:1, 55-79.

(2007) "A Perpetual Unease or Being at Ease? Daoism, Derrida, and the Metaphysics of Presence.” Philosophy East & West 57:2, 227-243.

(2006) “UNESCO & the Politics of Cultural Heritage in Tibet.” Journal of Contemporary Asia 36:2, 243-257.

(2005) “Age of the Law’s End: Falun Gong and the Cultivation of Modernity in Post-Maoist China” International Journal of Cultural Studies 8:4, 387-404.

Classes Taught

International Development: Theory, Policy and Practice; Human Rights and Ethics; Contemporary Chinese Culture and Society