My interest in industrialization dates back to my undergraduate and MSc studies in geography at Peking University, where urban morphological research drew my attention to the landscape change in industrialization. During my PhD at Cambridge, my focus shifted towards the labour force change in China’s industrialization. My thesis, titled ‘The occupational structure of the Yangtze Valley in the twentieth century’, illuminates the macro structures in economic development with data from jiapu, Chinese genealogies. I am now looking at biographies in jiapu for micro experiences of people’s work to recover a more comprehensive history of working life in twentieth-century China. In the longer term, I hope to connect my previous studies in geography and economic history to develop a more holistic perspective on the interaction between people, an industrializing economy, and China’s cultural landscape.