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A political scientist and lawyer by training who primarily teaches international law, he has conducted research about ethnic politics and nationalism in China, as well as China-Africa relations, in cooperation with anthropologist Yan Hairong in the latter field. His positions on the Tibet issue are seen as close to those of China.
His opinions and comments as an expert on these subjects have been sought by national and international printed and online media.
From 1993 to 2000, he was an assistant professor in the Division of Social Science at Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, then from 2000 to 2008, an associate professor at the same university.
In 2002-2003, he was also a Visiting Fellow in the Department of East Asian Studies at Princeton University.
He taught undergraduate courses in international law; politics, law & society; China-US relations; political development; and comparative politics; and also graduate courses in nationalism, ethnicity, and US hegemony.
Fields of research
His areas of research have been Communist and post-Communist systems; Chinese politics (especially ethnic politics); the political economic and legal aspects of the Tibet and Xinjiang issues; China-Africa links; the supposed strategic rivalry between the US and China in Africa; and international law (especially human rights).
His opinions and comments as an expert on these subjects have been sought by national and international printed and online media (CNN, USA TODAY, The New Yorker, The Manila Times, Digital Journal), the AFP press agency and various web sites.
Australian sinologist Colin Mackerras, an emeritus professor at Griffith University, sees Barry Sautman as "probably the main contributor to Tibet studies in Hong Kong's universities, at least in English." His research focuses on contemporary Tibet and uses history to shed light on it. As a scholar, he is tremendously productive. Although he does not speak Tibetan and is not a specialist of Tibetan culture, he "balances this lack with profound understanding of world history and international law." He views law and political science as his main areas of expertise. His stand on Tibet-related issues is akin to that of China, whose historical and legal claims to Tibet he supports. As this is not a fashionable stand in Western countries, "he has become a controversial figure." On the other hand, "because he is so well-informed and his research is so thorough," he is often asked to put across pro-Chinese positions in venues dealing with Tibet.
On account of his refutation of the claim of a physical and cultural genocide in Tibet, his underlining of the various benefits, rights, and material gains Tibetans have reaped from the region's modernization, and his indictment of what he calls "ethnonationalism" on the part of exile Tibetans, Barry Sautman has drawn criticism from writers supportive of an independent or free Tibet such as Jamyang Norbu and Elliot Sperling.Jamyang Norbu criticizes Sautman for his selective use of dubious facts and figures, writing in academic gobbledygook, and jumping to conclusions without citing evidence.
He co-authored a number of articles with Irene Eng, Baogang He, Yan Hairong, Kenneth King, as well as monographs with Shiu-hing Lo, Ellen Kneehans. He co-edited a collective book with June Teufel Dreyer.
1987. The Politicized Worker Under the National Labor Relations Act, Hofstra Labor and Employment Law Journal, Vol. 5, Issue 1, Article 3
1988. The Politicized Worker under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, in Hofstra Labor Law and Employment Journal, Vol. 5, Issue 2, pp. 67-107
1991. Politicization, Hyperpoliticization, and Depoliticization of Chinese Education, in Comparative Education Review, Vol. 35, No. 4, pp. 669-689
1992. Sirens of the Strongman: Neo-Authoritarianism in Recent Chinese Political Theory, in The China Quarterly, No 129 (March), pp. 71-102
1994. Anti-Black Racism in Post-Mao China, in The China Quarterly, No 138, June, pp. 413-437
1995. The Devil to Pay - The 1989 Debate and the Intellectual Origins of Yeltsin's Soft Authoritarianism, in Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Vol. 28, Issue 1, pp. 131-151
1996. Theories of East Asian Intellectual and Behavioral Superiority and Discourses on "Race Differences", in Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique, Vol. 4, Issue 3, pp. 519-567
1997. The Tibet Question: Meeting the Bottom Lines, in Problems of Post-Communism, Vol. 44, Issue 3, pp. 15-24
1997. Racial Nationalism and China's External Behavior, in World Affairs, Vol. 160, Issue 2, pp. 78-95
1998. Preferential Policies for Ethnic Minorities in China: The Case of Xinjiang, in Nationalism and Ethnic Politics (Special Issue: Nationalism and Ethnoregional Identities in China), Vol. 4, Issue 1-2, 1998, pp. 86-118
2012. Paved with Good Intentions: Proposals to Curb Minority Rights and their Consequences for China, in Modern China, Vol. 38, Issue 1, pp. 10-39
2012. (with Yan Hairong) Chasing Ghosts: Rumors and Representations of the Export of Chinese Prison Labour to Developing Countries, in China Quarterly, No 210 (June), pp. 398-418 ( Abridged Chinese version, 2013 ? ; full Chinese version in & , 2012 (, 2013)
2013. (with Yan Hairong) 'The Beginning of a World Empire'?: Contesting the Discourse of Chinese Copper Mining in Zambia, in Modern China, March
2013. The Chinese Defilement Case: Racial Profiling in an African 'Model of Democracy', in Rutgers Race and the Law Review, Vol. 14, No 1, pp. 87-134
2014. Self-Representation and Ethnic Minority Rights in China, in Asian Ethnicity, Vol. 15, Issue 2, pp. 174-196
1995. Theories of East Asian Intellectual and Behavioral Superiority and the "Clash of Civilizations", in Racial Identities in East Asia, Barry Sautman Ed., Hong Kong: Division of Social Science, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, pp. 58-121
1999. Year of the Yak: the Tibet Question in Contemporary US-China Relations, in The Outlook for U.S.-China Relations Following the 1997-1998 Summits: Chinese and American Perspectives on Security, Trade, and Cultural Exchange, Edited by Peter H. Koehn, Joseph Y.S. Cheng, Chinese University Press, Hong Kong, 403 p., pp. 181-205
1999. Expanding Access to Higher Education for China's National Minorities: Policies of Preferential Admission, in China's National Minority Education Culture, Schooling, and Development, Edited by Gerard A. Postiglione, Falmer Press, New York, pp. 173-210
2004. Hong Kong as a Semi-Ethnocracy: 'Race,' Migration, and Citizenship in a Globalized Region, in Agnes Ku & Pun Ngai (eds.), Remaking Citizenship in Hong Kong: Community, Nation, and the Global City, Routledge, New York, pp. 115-138
2005-2006. with Baogang He), The Politics of the Dalai Lama's New Initiative for Autonomy, in Pacific Affairs, Vol. 78, Issue 4 (Winter 2005-2006), pp. 601-629 - aussi sous le titre Dalai Lama's New Initiative for Autonomy, in Paula Banerjee and Samir Kumar Das (eds.), Autonomy: Beyond Kant and Hermeneutics, Anthem Press, London, 2007, pp. 235-260.
2006. (with Yan Hairong), Honour and Shame? China's Africa Ties in Comparative Perspectives, in Leni Wild and David Mepham (eds.), The New Sinosphere: China in Africa, Institute of Public Policy Research, London, pp. 54-61
2006. Introduction: the Tibet Question in Contemporary Perspective (with Yan Hairong) and 'Demographic Annihilation' and Tibet, in Barry Sautman & June Teufel Dreyer (eds.), Contemporary Tibet: Politics, Development and Society in a Disputed Region, ME Sharpe, Armonk, pp. 3-22, pp. 230-257, ISBN0765613549
2008. (avec Yan Hairong), in Dorothy Grace Guerrero, Firoze Manji (eds.), China's New Role in Africa and the South: A Search for a New Perspective, Fahamu, Oxford, 2008, ISBN9781906387266
2012. Ethnicity in China: Politics, Policies and Consequences, in Handbook of Contemporary China, Edited by William S Tay, Alvin Y. So, World Scientific, New Jersey ; Hong Kong
1995. Racial Identities in East Asia, edited by Barry Sautman, Hong Kong: Division of Social Science, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (proceedings of the international conference held in Hong-Kong on November 25 and 26, 1994)
2002. (with Ellen Kneehans), The Politics of Racial Discrimination in Hong Kong, Maryland Monograph Series in Contemporary Asian Studies, No. 2-2002 (169), 83 p., ISBN0925153850
2006. (with Yan Hairong), East Mountain Tiger, West Mountain Tiger: China, Africa, the West, and 'Colonialism' in Africa, Maryland Monograph Series in Contemporary Asian Studies, No. 3-2006 (186), 77 p., ISBN1-932330-16-XISBN978-1-932330-1-68
2012. (with Yan Hairong), The Chinese are the Worst?: Human Rights and Labor Practices in Zambian Mining, Maryland Series in Contemporary Asian Studies, 2012, 100 p., ISBN1-932330-39-9ISBN978-1932330-39-7
Other academic services
Founder of the journal Asian Ethnicity and member of its Board of Editors
Author of reviews in China Quarterly, China Journal, Pacific Affairs, Asian Ethnicity, East Asia
In 2013, professor Sautman was the speaker at the Adelaide Confucius Institute's annual Public Lecture.
Reviews of the author's contributions
In China Journal, July 2006, Issue 56, p. 213, review by Mark Stevenson of Contemporary Tibet: Politics, Development, and Society in a Disputed Region
In China Review International, Spring 2007, Vol. 14, Issue 1, p. 203, review by Ronald Schwartz of Contemporary Tibet: Politics, Development, and Society in a Disputed Region
^On January 31, 2013, Professor Sautman was among the awardees at the fourth Long Service Award Presentation Ceremony honoring faculty and staff members who have served the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) for 20 years. See Long Service Award for Prof. SautmanArchived 2014-08-10 at the Wayback Machine.
^The author's background on the site of The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, op. cit.: "His research concerns ethnic politics and nationalism in China, as well as China-Africa relations."
^The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, Vol 9, Issue 52, No 1, December 26, 2011: "Yan Hairong teaches in Hong Kong Polytechnic University. She is the author of New Masters, New Servants: Migration, Development and Women Workers in China (Duke University Press, 2008)."