Faculty Name

John Wagner Givens, Ph.D.


Associate Professor


International Studies



Office Location

Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby, Ed.D. Academic Center 405


Doctorate of Philosophy in Politics, University of Oxford
Masters of Arts in Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley
Bachelor’s in the Science of Foreign Service, Georgetown University


Dr. John Wagner Givens is an associate professor in the international studies department at Spelman College. He earned his doctorate in politics from the University of Oxford and his masters degree in Asian Studies from the University of California Berkeley.

He has been interviewed by Georgia Public Broadcasting and Chinese Central Television and has published in a variety of venues including China Quarterly, The Review of Policy Research, Fordham Urban Law Journal, Wisconsin International Law Journal, New Global Studies, Journal of East Asian Studies, War on the Rocks, and Newsweek. 



Research Interests

Dr. Givens has conducted research and published on a variety of topics including online politics in Asia, the Malaysian media, legal advice websites, smart cities, and Chinese politics, law, and foreign policy. 


Featured Articles

Xi Jinping's Dominant Faction
Eun Choi, Andrew W. MacDonald, and I investigate Xi Jinping's consolidation of power. Unprecedented since the time of Mao, we show that Xi has created a single dominant faction in the Chinese Communist Party. 

Nationalism and the Pandemic
Working with Evan Mistur, we find that nationalist leaders with little else in common have taken policy cues from other nationalists in responding to the coronavirus pandemic since the early days of the crisis.

Is the World Ready for China Risen?
I outline how the United States and rich democracies generally have failed to prepare for the rise of China militarily, economically, and in terms of education.

Academic Publications 

 “China Ostrichism: Why Didn’t the World Prepare for China’s Rise?" China Currents, 2022: Volume 21, Number 2.

Leaning In or All in the Family? Gender Equality, Dynastic Legacies, and Female Leaders” (with Charity Butcher and Tracy Mages) under review.

Policy Contagion During A Pandemic” (with Evan Mistur and Dan Matisoff) Review of Policy Research, 26 May 2022.

Is the World Ready for China Risen?” China Currents, Vol. 21, No. 1, 2022.

From Power Balancing to a Dominant Faction in Xi Jinping’s China” (with Eun Choi and Andrew W. MacDonald), China Quarterly, Vol. 248, No. 1, 2021: 935.

The Sincerest Form of Flattery: Nationalist Emulation During the COVID-19 Pandemic” (with Evan Mistur) Journal of Chinese Political Science, 2020. 

Smarter Cities or Bigger Brother? How the Race for Smart Cities Could Determine the Future of China, Democracy, and Privacy” (with Debra Lam) Fordham Urban Law Journal, Vol. 47, No. 4, 2020: 829.

On Their Best Behavior? Foreign Plaintiffs in Chinese Administrative Litigation” Open Judicial Politics: An Empirical Reader. Oregon State University Press, 2020.

Justice Online? Lawyers and Legal Advice Websites in the People’s Republic of China” Wisconsin International Law Journal, Vol. 37, No. 2, 2019.

Squeezing the Same Old Stone: Suing the Rural Chinese State and the Shift from Tax Reform to Land Seizures” (with Andrew W. MacDonald) China Currents, Vol. 17, No. 2, 2018.

Small and Smart: Why and How Smart City Solutions Can and Should be Adapted to the Unique Needs of Smaller Cities” (with Debra Lam) New Global Studies, Vol. 12, No. 1, 2018: 21–36.

Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe 1958-62: Volume 63, The Macat Library, 2017.

Strategic Censorship in a Hybrid Authoritarian Regime? Differential Bias in Malaysia’s Online and Print Media” (with Jason Abbott) Journal of East Asian Studies, Vol. 15, No. 3, 2015: 455-478.

Sleeping with Dragons? Politically Embedded Lawyers Suing the Chinese State” Wisconsin International Law Journal, Vol. 31, No. 3, 2014.

New Social Media and (Electronic) Democratization in East and Southeast Asia: China and Malaysia Compared” (with Jason Abbott and Andrew MacDonald) Taiwan Journal of Democracy, Vol. 9, No. 2, 2013.

The Beijing Consensus is Neither: China as a Non-Ideological Challenge to International Norms” St Antony’s International Review Vol. 6, No. 2, 2011: 10–25.