A historian of China, Tibet and ethnicity in modern China, I have taught at Penn State University since 2002 offering a broad range of undergraduate and graduate courses on China, Tibet and a popular introduction to World History to 1500 inspired by Neil MacGregor's History of the World in 100 Objects. I have just completed my third monograph, a biography on Lin Zexu, a Chinese imperial official largely known for his role in the Opium War (1839-42). Entitled Lin Zexu:Imperial China in a Globalizing World the book will be published next year in Oxford University Press "A World in the Life" series.
My essays, articles and reports have appeared in a variety of venues including most recently Journal of Asian Studies, Cahiers d’Extrême Asie, and Himalaya. My early research largely centered on the ethno-religious identity of the Muslim Chinese (or Hui) in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan culminating in the publication of The Chinese Sultanate: Islam, Ethnicity and the Panthay Rebellion in Southwestern China, 1856-1873 (Stanford University Press, 2006). This work will be republished in 2023 by Verso under the title The Panthay Rebellion: Islam, Ethnicity, the Dali Sultanate, 1856-73 with a preface written by Tariq Ali.
In 2018, I published my second monograph, Islamic Shangri-la: Inter-Asian Relations and Lhasa's Muslim Communities, 1600-1960 (University of California Press), a sweeping re-examination of Tibet's unique trans regional positioning in the South Asian, Himalayan and Chinese worlds -- a work largely supported by a Mellon New Directions Fellowship.
My commitment to teaching is not limited to my classroom instruction. Having lamented the lack of quality materials on Chinese history, I have worked with several publishers to contribute to scholarship that advances the teaching of Asian history. I co-authored with Yurong Yang Atwill, Sources in Chinese History: Diverse Perspectives from 1644 to the Present with Prentice-Hall in 2009, but which was re-issued in 2021as a heavily revised 2nd edition with Routledge that included new documents, new translations and new visual sources.
In response to the demand for specialized knowledge of China outside of academia, I was accepted as one of 20 individuals to serve in the fourth cohort (2014-16) in the National Committee of US-China Relations’ Public Intellectual Program and was a resident fellow at the Wilson Center in Washington D.C. (2020-21) Most recently, I was selected as a CUSP (China-US Program) Fellow (2022). Several years ago, I also served as the Department of History's Director of Graduate Studies (2010-2014/2015-2017) and was awarded Graduate School Alumni Society Graduate Program Chair Leadership Award.
PhD, University of Hawai'i, 1999
MA, University of Hawai'i, 1994
BA, Whitman College, 1989
Fields of Research:
Late Imperial, Republican, PRC China
Inter Asian History
Islam and Asia
Ethnic History (民族史)