Skip to main content
Helena Lopes  DPhil (Oxon) FHEA  FRHistS

Dr Helena Lopes


DPhil (Oxon) FHEA FRHistS

Lecturer in Modern Asian History

School of History, Archaeology and Religion

Available for postgraduate supervision


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 South China, including imperialism(s), anti-imperialism, and decolonisation, as well as experiences of movement, displacement and refugees. I am also interested in histories of Chinese migration more broadly, in histories of Portuguese and Welsh communities in twentieth-century East Asia, and in East Asian cinemas.









Book sections



Building on work developed during a recent Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, my current research investigates Chinese state and non-state interactions with European colonial powers that ruled territories in South China in the 1940s: Britain, France, and Portugal. I look into the interconnection between the movement of displaced persons (particularly women), 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. Drawing 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 published articles on refugees in Hong Kong and Macau, the experience of Guangzhouwan, Hong Kong and Macau in the immediate post-war period, and post-war Sino-Portuguese relations. I am currently working on other publications relating to this project, including on my second monograph.

My first book, Neutrality and Collaboration in South China: Macau during the Second World War (Cambridge University Press, 2023), analyses the layers of collaboration that developed from wartime neutrality in Macau, a small enclave at the crossroads of different empires that was the only foreign-ruled territory in China not occupied by Japan during the war. I wrote peer-reviewed articles and chapters on different aspects of Macau’s Second World War experience, including Red Cross activities (here and here), the relocation of schools and refugee students from mainland China and Hong Kong, and multinational propaganda (in the edited volume Propaganda and Neutrality: Global Cases Studies in the 20th Century).
I also wrote on other topics in the history and memory of the Second World War in East Asia, including on Portuguese Eurasian POWs in Hong Kong and Japan and on filmic representations of a global Second World War in contemporary Chinese cinema.

My research was funded by the Leverhulme Trust, the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), amongst other institutions. Alongside colleagues at Aberystwyth University and University of Wales Trinity St David, I am involved in a new project on the history of Welsh communities in East and Southeast Asia funded by the Wales Innovation Network and Global Wales.

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 the Asian History Seminar at the University of Bristol in 2020-21. I am currently part of the convening team of the Cardiff History Seminar. Together with colleagues in Anthropology, History, and Music based at different institutions, I am a member of the interdisciplinary network Colonial Ports and Global History, with whom I was involved in organising the international conference ‘Myriad Materialities: Towards a New Global Writing of Colonial Ports and Port Cities’ in 2021. I worked with the University of Bristol digital humanities project Historical Photographs of China as a Senior Research Associate in 2019-20. I wrote blog posts for Visualising China (here and here), Refugee History, Project Macau History, the Cambridge Core Blog, Fifteen Eighty Four, and History@Cardiff.


I contribute to different undergraduate and MA modules in History, including, among others, the new modules Close Neighbours, Dangerous Foes: China, Japan, and Modern East Asia, Anti-Colonial Resistance, and Global Histories. I co-convene the first two of those and the MA module Gender, Power, and Culture.
Before joining Cardiff, I taught a range of History units at the University of Oxford and the University of Bristol, having convened modern Chinese history units.
I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


I joined Cardiff in January 2023. Prior to that, I was a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at the Department of History, University of Bristol, a Lecturer in Modern Chinese History and Senior Research Associate in the History of Hong Kong, also at Bristol, and a Departmental Lecturer in Modern East Asia History at the University of Oxford. I studied in Lisbon, London, Taipei, and Oxford, and hold a DPhil in History from St Antony's College.

Professional memberships

  • American Historical Association (AHA)
  • Association for Asian Studies (AAS)
  • British Academy Early Career Researcher Network (BA ECRN)
  • British Association for Chinese Studies (BACS - Council Member since 2023)
  • Colonial Ports and Global History interdisciplinary network (CPAGH)
  • European Association for Chinese Studies (EACS)
  • Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (RHS)

Academic positions

  • 2023–present: Lecturer in Modern Asian History, Cardiff University
  • 2020–23: Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow, University of Bristol
  • 2019–20: Lecturer in Modern Chinese History and Senior Research Associate in the History of Hong Kong, University of Bristol
  • 2017–19: Departmental Lecturer in Modern East Asian History, University of Oxford

Speaking engagements

(Most recent only)

  • Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference, Seattle, USA (2024 - forthcoming)
  • War, Society and Culture Seminar (Roundtable), Institute of Historical Research, London, UK (2024)
  • American Historical Association Annual Conference, San Francisco, California, USA (2024)
  • Hong Kong History Centre, University of Bristol, UK (2023)
  • SOAS China Institute, SOAS, London, UK (2023)
  • History Seminar, Cardiff University, Wales, UK (2023)
  • British Association for Chinese Studies Annual Conference, King’s College, London, UK (2023)
  • Symposium 'St David in the East: Welsh Communities in East and Southeast Asia in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries', Aberystwyth University, Wales, UK (2023)
  • Nordic Association for China Studies Biannual Conference, University of Gothenburg, Sweden (2023)
  • Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference, Boston, USA (2023)
  • Centre for Urban History Seminar, University of Leicester, UK (2022)
  • British Association for Chinese Studies Annual Conference, St Antony’s College, Oxford, UK (2022)
  • Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference, Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, USA (2022)
  • Faculty of Social Sciences–Department of Sociology Seminar, University of Macau, Macau SAR, China (2022)
  • International Convention of Asia Scholars, Kyoto, Japan (2021)
  • Conference ‘Propaganda and Neutrality: Alternative Battlegrounds and Active Deflection’, Institute of Historical Research, London, UK (2021)
  • European Congress on World and Global History ‘Minorities, Cultures of Integration and Patters of Exclusion’, University of Turku, Finland (2021)
  • History Department Research Seminar, University of Bristol, UK (2021)


I welcome supervision enquiries in the following areas:

  • Modern East Asian History / Modern Chinese History (including Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan)
  • Second World War and Cold War in East Asia
  • Colonialism, anti-imperialism, and decolonisation in East Asia
  • Migration histories (East Asian communities overseas and foreign communities in East Asia)
  • Gender in modern East Asia
  • Cinema in or about East Asia

Research themes


  • Asian history
  • Modern Chinese history
  • Global and world history
  • History of empires, imperialism and colonialism
  • Migration history