Nicholas Allyn Bartlett

Nicholas Allyn Bartlett

Research Interest

Addiction and recovery; labor; civil society; psychoanalysis; groups and authority

Nicholas Bartlett is Assistant Professor of Contemporary Chinese Culture and Society at Barnard College, Columbia University. His first book, Recovering Histories: Life and Labor after Heroin in Reform-era China (University of California and Columbia Weatherhead 2020), offers a phenomenological account of long-term heroin users’ experiences recovering from addiction in a tin mining city. His current research explores the introduction of group relations conferences to China. In events designed to provoke phantasy and conflict, everything from geopolitical tensions to intimate dreams is made available for attendees to connect, critique, and reflect upon. Fieldwork in staff and member roles at conferences and in visits to workplaces explores how the negotiation of meanings in and around GRCs contributes to imagining authority and collective life in contemporary China and beyond.

He completed his undergraduate degree at Pomona College and studied and worked in international public health before completing his PhD in medical anthropology at UC Berkeley and UCSF. Prior to coming to Barnard, he taught anthropology courses at USC and UCLA and was a research analyst candidate at the New Center for Psychoanalysis in Los Angeles.




Recovering Histories: Life and Labor after Heroin in Reform-era China. University of California Press and Columbia Weatherhead Series, 2020.


Bartlett, Nicholas. “The Ones Who Struck Out: Entrepreneurialism, Heroin Addiction, and Historical Obsolescence in Reform Era China.”  positions: asia critique 26 no. 3 (2018): 423-449.

Bartlett, Nicholas. “Idling in Mao’s Shadow: Heroin Addiction and the Contested Therapeutic Value of Socialist Traditions of Laboring.” Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 42 no. 1 (2018): 49-68.

Bartlett, Nicholas. “On knowing addiction: A review essay of works by Hansen, Raikhel, and Shukla.” Political and Legal Anthropology Review (2018).

Bartlett, Nicholas, Eugene Raikhel, and William Garriott. “What’s in the ‘treatment gap’? Ethnographic Perspectives on Addiction and Global Mental Health from China, Russia and the United States.” Medical Anthropology 33 no. 6 (2014): 457-77.