Dr. Monica Merlin

Assistant Professor


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East Asian Art History and Visual Culture


D.Phil., University of Oxford, 2013
M.A., SOAS University of London, 2007
B.A., Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, 2004


Before joining VCUarts Qatar, Dr Monica Merlin was Programme Leader for the MA Contemporary Arts China at the Birmingham School of Art (Birmingham City University) and previously taught in the postgraduate courses at Christie’s Education (London), validated then by the University of Glasgow.

Monica lived and worked in Beijing for two years after a BA in Chinese Studies specialising in Chinese Art and Archaeology at Ca’ Foscari University (Venice). She returned to Europe to pursue an MA in Asian Art at SOAS University of London (2007), and worked for two years as curator at a contemporary Asian art gallery in London. In 2009 Monica continued her studies gaining a DPhil (2013) at the University of Oxford with a thesis on early modern Chinese art.

Monica conducted a funded post-doctoral research (2013-14) at the Tate Research Centre: Asia with a project on contemporary Chinese women artists which led to the creation of a small archive of interviews available on the Tate’s website. She has contributed to curatorial projects, and published in peer-reviewed journals, edited volumes and an encyclopedia. Her major research interests lie in contemporary Chinese art and visual culture, women artists, gender, feminism, activism, transculturality, Asian and global contemporary art.

Research Interests

Chinese art history; Chinese contemporary art; Asian and global contemporary art; women artists, feminism and gender; new museum studies


Merlin, Monica. #ChineseFeminism, FKW // Zeitschrift für Geschlechterforschung und visuelle Kultur, in how :// do we speak #feminism?// new global challenges, special issue, no. 70, winter 2021/22. (forthcoming 2021-22)

Merlin, Monica. ‘Ripples in water’. Minor Episodes of Feminist Visual Activism by Three Women Artists in the PRC (2007-2015)’, in D. White and S. Hartle eds., Visual Activism in the 21st Century: Art, Protest and Resistance in an Uncertain World (London: Bloomsbury). (forthcoming 2022)

Merlin, Monica. ‘Mapping women artists in post-Mao China', in Stepping out. Female Identities in Contemporary Chinese Art, exhibition catalogue Lillehammer Art Museum and Museum der Moderne, Salzburg, Spring 2022. (forthcoming 2022)

Merlin, Monica. He Chengyao; Huang Yan; Jiang Jie; Lu Hao; Ma Liuming; Miao Ying; Performance (Cina); Qiu Zhijie; Shi Hui; Shock art in Cina; Sui Jianguo; Sun Yuan e Peng Yu; Wang Jianwei; Wu Meichun; Xiang Jing; Xu Bing; Xu Tan; Xu Zhen; Yang Zhichao; Zhang Jianjun, in Enciclopedia Italiana dell’Arte Contemporanea Treccani (Treccani Editore, 2021/22). (forthcoming 2022)

Merlin, Monica. ‘Gender (still) matters in Chinese Contemporary Art’, Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, 6.1, 5–15. (2019)

Merlin, Monica. ‘Cao Fei. Rethinking the global/local discourse’, Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, 5.1 (2018), 41–60. Doi: 10.1386/jcca.5.1.41_1 (2018)

Merlin, Monica. Women Artists in Contemporary China (2018) http://www.tate.org.uk/research/research-centres/tate-research-centre-asia/women-artists-contemporary-china (2018)


Merlin, Monica. ‘Rethinking timelines. Women artists and performance art in mainland China’, EACS Biennial Conference, University of Glasgow, 28-31 August 2018.

Merlin, Monica. ‘Body, Gender and Space: Chinese women Artists from 1980s until today’, Women in Chinese Art Symposium, Ashmolean Museum of Art, Oxford 16 June 2018.

Merlin, Monica. ‘Women! Women! Women!’, open lecture at Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA), Manchester 29 March 2018.

Merlin, Monica. ‘Rethinking Women Artists and Gender in Contemporary Chinese Art’, Gender in Chinese Contemporary Art Symposium, Tate Modern, 22 February 2018.