Daniel Asen

Daniel Asen


daniel.asen [at] rutgers.edu



Office Location

328 Conklin Hall
175 University Avenue
Newark, NJ 07102

Daniel Asen is a historian of modern China whose research explores the intersection of law, science, and medicine. Dr. Asen’s recently published book, Death in Beijing: Murder and Forensic Science in Republican China (Cambridge University Press, 2016), examines the history of homicide investigation and forensic science in early 20th-century Beijing. Dr. Asen is currently researching the history of fingerprinting in modern China, focusing on the ways in which fingerprinting has developed as both a tool of criminal investigation and an object of scientific research in the fields of anthropology, human genetics, and dermatoglyphics. Dr. Asen is very interested in exploring connections between this history and present-day developments in latent fingerprint identification and forensic science in the United States and globally.


“Standard Grant: Fingerprinting in Twentieth Century China from Racial, Political and Scientific Perspectives.” NSF Science, Technology, and Society Program, 2017-2020.

Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Program in China Studies Postdoctoral Fellowship (2013)


PhD, Columbia University, 2012.


“Song Ci (1186 –1249), ‘Father of World Legal Medicine’: History, Science, and Forensic Culture in Contemporary China.” East Asian Science, Technology and Society. Forthcoming 2017.

Death in Beijing: Murder and Forensic Science in Republican China. Cambridge University Press, 2016.

“The Only Options?: ‘Experience’ and ‘Theory’ in Debates over Forensic Knowledge and Expertise in Early Twentieth-Century China.” In Historical Epistemology and the Making of Modern Chinese Medicine, edited by Howard Chiang. Manchester University Press, 2015.

“Old Forensics in Practice: Investigating Suspicious Deaths and Administering Justice in Republican Beijing.” In Chinese Law: Knowledge, Practice, and Transformation, 1530s to 1950s, edited by Madeleine Zelin and Li Chen. Brill, 2015.

“Vital Spots, Mortal Wounds, and Forensic Practice: Finding Cause of Death in Nineteenth-Century China.” East Asian Science, Technology and Society 3, no. 4 (2009): 453-474.

“‘Manchu Anatomy’: Anatomical Knowledge and the Jesuits in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century China.” Social History of Medicine 22, no. 1 (2009): 23-44.

“Approaching Law and Exhausting its (Social) Principles: Jurisprudence as Social Science in Early 20th Century China.” Spontaneous Generations: A Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science 2, no. 1 (2008): 213-236.