Ashley Esarey, PhD, MPhil, MA, BA

Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts - Political Science Dept


Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts - Political Science Dept

Faculty of Arts - Political Science Dept
(780) 492-5772
11-22 Tory (H.M.) Building
11211 Saskatchewan Drive NW
Edmonton AB
T6G 2H4


Area of Study / Keywords

Political communication Leadership Democratization Foreign Relations Politics of China and Taiwan


In his youth, Ashley Esarey spend time on commercial fishing boats and a small wheat farm in his native Washington State before developing an interest in getting rich doing business in Japan. Much to the dismay of his parents, a year spent as an undergraduate at Waseda University in Tokyo led to a passion for East Asian politics instead. After graduating from Occidental College in Los Angeles with a degree in Diplomacy and World Affairs: East Asia, he went to Taipei to study Mandarin Chinese at National Taiwan Normal University for two years prior to a two-year stint as a journalist in Taiwan. He returned to the United States for graduate studies at Columbia University in New York. His doctoral research on the political effects of Chinese media commercialization drew on two years of fieldwork in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, and Changsha, including one year as a Fulbright-Hays Fellow. This project connected his experiences as a journalist and a scholar; political communication would remain a research focus for many years. Dr. Esarey’s first academic position was at Middlebury College in Vermont. He was then awarded the An Wang Postdoctoral Fellowship in Chinese Studies at Harvard University. An avid outdoorsman, Dr. Esarey was eager to return to the mountains of the west. He taught at Whitman College for three years prior to taking up his first appointment at the University of Alberta. Currently, he is Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the interdisciplinary program in Taiwan Studies


Dr Esarey researches media and politics in China and Taiwan, environmentalism, peace and security in East Asia, and leadership politics. A recent book investigates the effects of Xi Jinping's leadership on Chinese politics and foreign relations. Select publications follow.


Esarey, Ashley, Mary Alice Haddad, Stevan Harrell, and Joanna Lewis, eds. Eco-Developmentalism in East Asia. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2020.

Dunch, Ryan, and Ashley Esarey, eds. Taiwan in Dynamic Transition: Nation Building and Democratization. Seattle:University of Washington Press, 2020. 

Lu, Hsiu-lien, and Ashley Esarey. My Fight for a New Taiwan: One Woman’s Journey from Prison to Power. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2014.

Esarey, Ashley, and Randolph Kluver, eds. The Internet in China: Cultural, Political, and Social Dimensions. Great Barrington, MA: Berkshire Publishing, 2014.

Journal Special Issues 

Esarey, Ashley and Rongbin Han, eds. “The Xi Jinping Effect in China and Beyond.” Journal of Contemporary China, 130, Issues 131-132 (2021).

Jiang, Min, and Ashley Esarey, eds. “(Un)Civil Society in Digital China.” International Journal of Communication 12 (May 2018): 1928-2030. 

Articles and Book Chapters

Esarey, Ashley. “Propaganda as a Lens for Assessing Xi Jinping’s Leadership.” Journal of Contemporary China, 130 (132) (2021): 888-901.

Esarey, Ashley. “Democratization and Nation-Building in Taiwan: An Overview.” In Taiwan in Dynamic Transition: Nation Building and Democratization edited by Ryan Dunch and Ashley Esarey, 21-44. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2020.

Stockman, Daniela, Ashley Esarey, and Jie Zhang. “Who is Afraid of the Chinese State? Calling into Question Political Fear as an Explanation for Overreporting of Political Trust.” Political Psychology 39.5 (2018): 1105-1121.

Jiang, Min, and Ashley Esarey. “Uncivil Society in Digital China: Incivility, Fragmentation, and Political Stability.” International Journal of Communication 12 (2018): 1928-1944.

Esarey, Ashley, Daniela Stockman, and Jie Zhang. “Support for Propaganda: Chinese Perceptions of Public Service Advertisements,” Journal of Contemporary China 26.103 (2017): 101-117.

Esarey, Ashley. “Winning Hearts and Minds? Cadres as Microbloggers in China,” Journal of Current Chinese Affairs 44.2 (2015): 69-103. 

Esarey, Ashley. “Holding Together China: Democratic Solutions for Resolving Ethnic Conflict.” In Problems Confronting Contemporary Democracies: Essays in Honor of Alfred Stepan, edited by Scott Mainwaring and Douglas Chalmers, 255-272. Notre Dame, IN: Notre Dame University Press, 2012.

Esarey, Ashley, and Xiao Qiang. “Digital Communication and Political Change in China.” International Journal of Communication 5 (2011): 298-319.

Esarey, Ashley, and Xiao Qiang. “Political Discourse in the Chinese Blogosphere: Below the Radar.” Asian Survey 48.5 (2008): 752-772.

Goldman, Merle, and Ashley Esarey. “Intellectual Pluralism and Dissent.” In Political Change in China: Comparisons with Taiwan, edited by Larry Diamond and Bruce Gilley, 49-78. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2008.

Esarey, Ashley. “Speak No Evil: Mass Media Control in Contemporary China.” Freedom at Issue: A Special Freedom House Report (February 2006): 1-12.

Esarey, Ashley. “Cornering the Market: State Strategies for Controlling China’s Commercial Media.” Asian Perspective29.4 (2005): 37-83. *Republished in Discontented Miracle: Growth, Conflict, and Institutional Adaptations in China,edited by Dali Yang, 1-48. Singapore: World Scientific, 2007.



Dr. Esarey would welcome supervising graduate studies related to East Asian politics.


POL S 237 - Introduction to Chinese Politics

Introduces the Chinese political system, institutional structure, and political history.

POL S 375 - Politics of East Asia

A comprehensive introduction to East Asian politics in the postwar period, covering Greater China (Mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong), Japan and the two Koreas. Prerequisite: One of POL S 235 (or 240), East Asian Studies Major/Minor or Department consent.

POL S 467 - Chinese Foreign Policy

China's approach to foreign affairs and rising global influence, with a focus on Chinese leaders and institutions, China's geopolitical partnerships, and international relations theory. Prerequisite: POL S 235, 237, 261 or consent of Department.

POL S 560 - Topics in International Relations

Browse more courses taught by Ashley Esarey