Postdoc FNS

Ariane Knüsel


Université de Fribourg
Département d'Histoire contemporaine
av. de l'Europe 20
1700 Fribourg


Ariane Knüsel is Senior Researcher, working on Sino-Swiss relations in the Cold War. She has been Swiss Scholar at the Wilson Center, and Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. Her publications deal with Western relations with China, Western media portrayals of China, and Chinese and Swiss intelligence.

  • Biographie - Lebenslauf

    Ariane Knüsel is Senior Researcher at University of Fribourg. She is working on an SNSF research project on Sino-Swiss relations in the Cold War. She has been Swiss Scholar at the Wilson Center, and Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, and has an MA in Cultural History from Birkbeck College, the University of London, and an MA in English Literature and Linguistics, History, and Sinology from the University of Zurich. Her publications deal with Western social, political, economic, and cultural relations with China in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Western media portrayals of China, Chinese intelligence networks in the Cold War, and Swiss counterintelligence.

  • Domaine de recherche - Forschungsschwerpunkte
    • Switzerland and China
    • Chinese propaganda and intelligence networks in Europe during the Cold War
    • Western media discourse on China (particularly editorial cartoons)
    • Western political, economic, social and cultural relations with China since 1840 
    • Swiss counterintelligence
    • cartoons as historical sources
    • discursive constructions of nationhood in the 19th and 20th centuries
    • Tibetans in Switzerland
    • visual history
    • media history
    • historical network theory
    • diplomatic history
    • cultural history
  • Projets de recherche - Forschungsprojekte
    Projets de recherche en cours - Laufende Forschungsprojekte

    SNSF Habilitation « China and Switzerland in the Cold War: Political, Economic, and Intelligence Networks, 1949-1989 », part of the SNSF research project « Les relations sino-suisses au temps de la guerre froide : une « rupture impossible » ? (1949-1989) » , directed by Prof. Claude Hauser.


    Projets de recherche terminés - Abgeschlossene Forschungsprojekte



  • Publications - Publikationen
    • Monographies

      2012 Framing China: Media Images and Political Debates in Britain, the USA and Switzerland, 1900-1950, Farnham: Ashgate.

    • Peer-reviewed Articles

      Forthcoming “Swiss Counterintelligence and Chinese Espionage in the Cold War”, Journal of Cold War Studies.
      2019 “‘White on the outside but red on the inside’: Switzerland and Chinese intelligence networks during the Cold War”, Cold War History, DOI:
      2017 „Facing the Dragon – Teaching the Boxer Uprising Through Cartoons”, The History Teacher 50:2, pp. 201-226.
      2016 “Les caricaturistes européens et le dragon chinois au xixe siècle: l’évolution d’une représentation de l’ennemi”, Relations Internationales 3/167, Le dialogue Asie-Europe (XIXe-XXIe siècles), pp. 53-72.
      2015 “‘Armé de la pensée Mao Tsé-toung, on peut résoudre tous les problèmes’: l'influence de la Révolution culturelle sur les relations de la Suisse avec la République populaire de China“, Relations Internationales 3/163: Suisse et Guerre froide dans le tiers-monde, pp. 29-46.
      2014 ‘A Tricky Business: Swiss Perceptions of Informal Imperialism in China in the 1920s’, Journal of Modern Chinese History 2, pp. 210-229.
      2013 ‘British Conservatives, the Red Menace and Anti-British Agitation in China, 1924-1927’, Cultural History 2/1, pp. 62-92.
      2008 ‘“Western civilization” against “hordes of yellow savages”: British perceptions of the Boxer Rebellion’, Asiatische Studien LXII/1, pp. 43-83.
      2007 ‘British diplomacy and the telegraph in nineteenth-century China’, Diplomacy and Statecraft 18/3, pp. 517-537.

    • Chapters in Edited Volumes

      Forthcoming “Beijing’s Headquarters in Europe? Sino-Swiss Relations in the 1950s and 1960s”, in Charles Krause, Enrico Fardella and Christian Ostermann (eds.), Sino-European Relations and the Cold War, Washington, D.C.: Wilson Center. 

      2018 “Small Country – Great Importance: Switzerland and the Chinese Presence in Europe during the 1950s and 1960s”, in: Marco Wyss, Janick Schaufelbuehl, Valeria Zanier (eds.), Europe and China in the Cold War: Exchanges Beyond the Bloc Logic and the Sino-Soviet Split. Leiden: Brill, pp. 42-61.
      2014 “‘The Chinaman of old cannot be compared to the Chinaman of today’: Reports from the Swiss Consulate in Shanghai as Colonial Discourse”, in: Harald Fischer-Tiné and Patricia Purtschert (eds.), Colonial Encounters of the Swiss Kind: Imperial Entanglements and Postcolonial Assemblages. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 259-277.
      2012 “Yellow Peril: The Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) to the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924”, in: Patrick J. Hayes (ed.), The Making of Modern Immigration: An Encyclopedia of People and Ideas, Greenwood Press and ABC Clio, pp. 749-773.
      2011 “The Civil War to the Gilded Age: 1859 to 1900”, in: Rodney Carlisle (ed.), Multicultural America, Facts On File, pp. 25-42.

    • Journal Articles

      2013 “Aloys Jost – Ein Bündner Patriot und die Französische Revolution” [Aloys Jost – A Grisons Patriot and the French Revolution’], Bündner Monatsblatt 4, pp. 493-515.
      2004 “Maienfeld im 16. Jahrhundert”, Terra Plana Nr. 1, pp. 25-41.

    • Book Reviews

      2013 Review of “Tom Buchanan, East Wind: China and the British Left, 1925-1976. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012”, The American Historical Review 18/3, p. 935.
      2012 Review of “Shogo Suzuki, Civilization and Empire: China and Japan’s Encounter with European International Society (London and New York, 2009)”, Comparativ 22/3, pp. 94-96.
      2010 Review of “Sarah Stockwell (ed.), The British Empire: Themes and Perspectives, Malden und Oxford, 2008”, Canadian Journal of History XLV/2, pp. 437-439.

    • Online Publications

      2019 Expert for news article « How Switzerland reacted to Tiananmen Square » by Patrick Boehler, Caroline Honegger, and Carlo Pisani, Swissinfo (international service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation), 4.6.2019,
      2017 “The Swiss Witnesses to China’s Cultural Revolution”, Sources and Methods: A blog of the History and Public Policy Program, Wilson Center, 19.6.2017,

  • Conférences et tables-rondes - Vorträge und Podien
  • Médias - Medienbeiträge
    • Medienbeiträge

      Expert for news article « How Switzerland reacted to Tiananmen Square » by Patrick Boehler, Caroline Honegger, and Carlo Pisani, Swissinfo (international service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation), 4.6.2019,

      “The Swiss Witnesses to China’s Cultural Revolution”, Sources and Methods: A blog of the History and Public Policy Program, Wilson Center, 19.6.2017,

      Radio interview, "Die Kulturrevolution - eine chinesische Katastrophe", Zeitblende, SRF 4,  2.7.2016,

       Radio interview, "Expo 2010: das Schweiz-Bild in China", Kontext, DRS 2, 26.4.2010,

    • Radio Interviews

      2017 Radio interview, "Die Kulturrevolution - eine chinesische Katastrophe", Zeitblende, SRF 4, 2.7.2016,
      2010 Radio interview, "Expo 2010: das Schweiz-Bild in China", Kontext, DRS 2, 26.4.2010,

    • Conférences et exposés

      Nov. 2016 “Small Country-Great importance: Sino-Swiss Relations in the Cold War”, The Smaller European Powers and China in the Cold War, 1949-1989, University of Lausanne.
      Sept. 2016 “Economic relations between Switzerland and China during the 1960s and 1970s”, Fudan University, Shanghai.
      June 2016 “European Cartoonists and the Chinese Dragon: The Evolution of an enemy image”, Le Dialogue Asie-Europe, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. “‘Business, not trade agreements’. Wirtschaftspolitische Beziehungen zwischen der Schweiz und China, 1950-1980”, 4. Schweizerische Geschichtstage, University of Lausanne.
      April 2016 “Beijing’s headquarters in Europe? Sino-Swiss Relations in the Cold War”, Werkstatt Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte, University of Zurich.
      Oct. 2015 “Beijing’s Headquarters in Europe: Sino-Swiss Relations in the Cold War and Lessons for Today”, Wilson Center, Washington D.C.
      Nov. 2014 “The Effects of the Cultural Revolution on Sino-Swiss Relations during the Cold War”, Workshop La Suisse et la Guerre froide dans le Tier Monde, IHEID, Geneva.
      May 2013 “The Chinese Civil War in British Newsreels”, workshop Ab Band: Ton- und Bildquellen als Gegenstand historischer Forschung (Audio and visual sources in historical research), University of Zurich.
      Feb. 2013 “Legitimising the Swiss Presence in China: The Swiss Press and Chinese Antiforeign Agitation in the 1920s”, 3. Schweizerische Geschichtstage, University of Fribourg. “British and Swiss Views of the Advent of the People’s Republic of China (1945-1949)”, La Chine et l’Europe au XXe siècle: Regards historiques croisés autour de la République, University of Fribourg.
      Sept. 2011 “Yellow Peril or Americanised Pupils? Perceptions of Chinese and Chinese Americans from 1850 to 1950”, conference Un-Americans and the Un-American: From 1776 to 9/11, University of Leicester.
      July 2011 “Anticommunism and the Press: British, Swiss and American Reactions to the Chinese Civil War”, World History Association’s conference in Beijing.
      May 2010 “Newspapers and Sources for Cultural Historians”, International Society for Cultural History’s conference Cultural Histories: Close Readings, Critical Syntheses in Turku.
      Sept. 2009 “Wilson, FDR, Truman, and the Missionary Imperative in US China Policy”, British International Studies Association’s conference on US Foreign Policy, University of East Anglia.
      June 2009 “Contrasting Images of China Propagated by American Missionaries and Merchants During the Interwar Years”, World History Association’s conference in Salem, MA.
      April 2009 “‘A war between east and west, between the yellow peoples and the whites’: The Yellow Peril and US National Identity in the 1930s”, British Association of American Studies’ conference, University of Nottingham.
      Dec. 2008 “China Images in the US Press from 1911 to 1949”, conference Americans, Macao and China 1784-1950: Historical Relations, Interactions and Connections, University of Macao.
      July 2008 “‘A terror which has been truly Asiatic’: The Yellow Peril in World War Two”, conference Justifying War: Propaganda, Politics and War in the Modern Age, University of Kent.
      June 2008 “The British Press, the Labour Movement and Anti-British Agitation in China 1925-1927” conference The British Labour Movement and Imperialism, University of Central Lancashire.
      April 2008 “China images in Britain, the USA and Switzerland”, Spring Academy on American History, Culture & Politics, Heidelberg Center for American Studies.
      July 2007 “Imperialism and China Images in Britain, 1900 to 1949”, Media and Imperialism Conference of the International Association for Media and History in Amsterdam.

    • Guest Lectures

      April 2016 “The Yellow Peril: Origin and Development of an Enemy Image, 1860-1950”, Histoire Contemporaine, University of Fribourg.
      June 2009 “China images in Western media 1900-1950”, Master of Advanced Studies in History, University of Zurich.

  • Colloques et Workshops - Tagungen und Workshops