I’m part of a new field in historical studies known as Global History, which focuses on commonalities and connections between the myriad societies on the planet rather than on traditionally-defined political or cultural units. My core geographical area of expertise is China, but my research focuses on interconnections in the Early Modern Period (1500-1800) and on comparative history.
The main question that fascinates me is: Why did western Europeans, who sat on the far edge of Eurasia and were backward by Asian standards, rise to global prominence starting in the 1500s, establishing durable maritime empires that spanned the seas?
My first book, How Taiwan Became Chinese (2007), examined how Dutch, Spanish, and Chinese colonization met and competed in the Far East and asked why it was that the Chinese prevailed over the Europeans rather than the other way around, suggesting that political will – that is to say state support for expansion – was a key variable. My second book, Lost Colony (2011), examined the Sino-Dutch War of 1661-1668, Europe’s first war with China and the only significant Sino-European conflict until the Opium War of 1839–42.
It asked whether Europeans had – at this early date – any significant advantages in military and naval technology over China and concluded that they did, although not perhaps in the areas people might have expected. My third book, The Gunpowder Age (2016), looked more deeply into China’s military past, comparing it to that of Europe, and showing that China’s China’s dynamism was deeper, longer lasting, and more quickly recovered than has long been believed.
- The Gunpowder Age: China, Military Innovation, and the Rise of the West in World History (Princeton, 2016)
- Lost Colony: The Untold Story of Europe’s First War with China (Princeton, 2011)
- How Taiwan Became Chinese (Columbia University Press, 2007)
Articles in Journal of World History, Late Imperial China, Canadian Journal of Sociology, Itinerario, and Journal of Asian Studies, among others. Honors include The John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and the Gutenberg-e Prize.
I accept Ph.D. students not just in Chinese history but also in the history of early modern European colonialism.
Syllabus for History 260: East Asia, 1500 to the Present
Emory Endeavors in World History (undergraduate history journal)
BA, Reed College, 1992.
MA, University of Illinois, Urbana- Champaign, 1994.
MA, Yale University, 1997.
MPhil, Yale University, 1998.
PhD, Yale University, 2000.
Source: Emory College of Arts & Sciences