Xin Liu's primary research interests concern the condition of life in the contemporary world, with reference to (East) Asia and China and understanding the effects of transnational capital and capitalism in the transformation of (East) Asian societies. Among his research questions are the Chinese modernizing process and its relevance to the discussion of modernity in anthropology; the problem of agency and/or subjectivity in social theory; the practice of everyday (business) life (in China and other Asian societies); the urban question in and of China; time, memory and different ways of being in history; the nature of narrative and its function in the configuration of our senses of self and belonging; the problem of media and imagery; the ideology of science in East Asia and, in particular, in today's China.
Today the discipline faces a different task, for which anthropological studies of China may regain a new significance. His work, on the one hand, hopes to contribute to the necessary renovation of an old storehouse of assumption and conception in studying other cultures and, on the other, responds to an urgent need for anthrologicalizing China’s emergence onto the global stage. This double endeavor, i.e. renovation of our disciplinary tradition and innovation in our approaching a new leviathan, is an intellectual task of our times when locatable sociohistoric relations are no longer “local” but appropriated according to certain “global” categories, real or imagined. Today’s China has become a symptom of the world in which America continues to stand as a powerful symbol. Both the symbol and the symptom await an anthropological deciphering, which means, to his mind, the development of an ethnographic approach to the studies of conceptual formations in and as other histories.