Lisa Hoffman, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Specialty: Cultural Anthropology

Hoffman, Lisa

Contact information

Dept: Urban Studies
Room: PNK 307
Phone: 253-692-5895


  • Ph.D., Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, 2000.
  • M.A., Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, 1993.
  • M.A., China Regional Studies, University of Washington, 1992.
  • B.A., Philosophy, Yale University, 1988.


Lisa Hoffman came to UW Tacoma in the fall of 2002. She received her MA in China Regional Studies from UW Seattle's Jackson School of International Studies (1992) and her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology at UC Berkeley (2000). She has spent extensive time living and working in China, including teaching English in Beijing (1988-1989) and teaching courses on gender theory and the sociology of sexuality at Chinese University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong University.

Her primary research interests include subject formation processes, urban and spatial transformations with governmental/economic changes, and the emergence of new techniques and forms of governing. China has been her main research site, with major projects on the emergence of urban professionals, processes of rural urbanization, and recent discourses of green urbanisms.

Her current project examines new modes of solving social problems in the city, specifically volunteerism, philanthropy, and corporate social responsibility in urban China.

Select publications on this work include:

  • Patriotic Professionalism in Urban China: Fostering Talent, Temple University Press, 2010, see
  • "Contemporary Technologies of City-Building in China: Urban "Modeling" and Regimes of Green Urbanisms" in Worlding Cities: Asian Experiments and the Art of Being Global, Ananya Roy and Aihwa Ong eds., The Studies in Urban and Social Change Book Series, Blackwell, forthcoming.
  • "Governmental Rationalities of Environmental City-Building in Contemporary China" in China's Governmentalities: Governing Change, Changing Government, Elaine Jeffreys, ed., Routledge Studies on China in Transition, 2009.
  • "Environment and Value in Dalian, China" (魅力大连, 环境值钱) in Chinese language journal 大連房地 (Dalian Real Estate) Vol. 7, September 2007, summary of conference proceedings publication, translation with Wang Xiuping and journal editors, pp. 36-38, 2007.
  • "Autonomous Choices and Patriotic Professionalism: On Governmentality in Late-Socialist China" Economy and Society Volume 34, Number 4, pp. 550-570, 2006.
  • "Notes on the Anthropology of Neoliberalism," (with Monica DeHart and Stephen J. Collier), in Anthropology Newsletter, Vol. 47, No. 4, September 2006, pp. 9-10, 2006.
  • "Enterprising Cities and Citizens: The Re-Figuring of Urban Spaces and the Making of Post-Mao Professionals" in Provincial China, Volume 8, Number 1, pp. 5-26, 2003.
  • "Guiding College Graduates to Work: Social Constructions of Labor Markets in Dalian" in China Urban: Ethnographies of Contemporary Culture. Nancy Chen, Constance Clark, Suzanne Gottschang and Lyn Jeffery, eds. Durham: Duke University Press, pp. 43-66, 2001.
  • "Rural Urbanization on the Liaodong Peninsula: A Village, A Town, and a Nongmin Cheng" (with Liu Zhongquan), in Farewell to Peasant China: Rural Urbanization and Social Change in the Late Twentieth Century. Gregory Eliyu Guldin, ed. Armonk, New York: ME Sharpe, pp. 151-182, 1997.

Hoffman also has written about modes of governing, subject formation, and homelessness in the United States.

Select publications on this work include:

  • "Dignity and Indignation: How People Experiencing Homelessness View Services and Providers" (with Brian Coffey), The Social Science Journal, Volume 45, Number 2, pp. 207-222, 2008.

She also is collaborating with Professor Mary Hanneman (IAS) on a research project that has included collection of over forty oral histories with former students of Tacoma's Japanese Language School, and that addresses links between subject formation, urban landscapes, and modes of power. This project also builds on her training with geographer Allan Pred, whose work will be commemorated, and whose influence will be examined, in a volume she is co-editing with Heather Merrill.

Other select publications include:

  • Entries "Gateway Cities" and "Middle Classes in Cities" in Encyclopedia of American Urban History. David Goldfield, ed., Thousand Oaks: Sage, pp. 296-297, pp. 470-472, 2007.
  • Entries "Wenhua shuiping (cultural level)" and "Women's work (notions of)" in Encyclopedia of Contemporary Chinese Culture. Edward Davis, ed., London: Routledge, p. 653, 659, 2005.
  • "Student Fieldwork in Cities: Thinking Critically about Our Public Spaces" in Xcp:Streetnotes, Winter 2004, online journal, 2004.

Since the fall of 2009, she also has been involved with the collaboration between McCarver Elementary School, Greater Metroparks Foundation, and universities in Tacoma (UW Tacoma and UPS) to create a memorial for Zina Linnik and to help renovate two local parks. This project has led to powerful new ways of thinking about service learning and community work.

Courses include:

  • T URB 101 Exploring Cities: An Introduction to Urban Studies
  • T URB 314 Gender and the Urban Landscape
  • T URB 315 Homes, Housing, and Homelessness
  • T URB 316 Cities and Citizenship
  • T URB 430 Pacific Rim Cities
  • T URB 492 Urban Studies Capstone Seminar
  • TSMIN 436 Contemporary Chinese Culture and Society