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New Fields

We are proud to announce that, starting in the 2012-13 academic year, Dissertation Reviews will undergo a major expansion to include multiple new and enlarged fields. If you would like to have your dissertation reviewed, please feel out the Request Review form. If you would like to serve as a reviewer or help us out in some other way, please contact

Some of our new fields, and their respective Field Editors, include:

Asian Art History (vacant)
Bioethics (Tamara Kayali)
Chinese Literature (Lucas Klein)
Gender and Sexuality (Caroline Walters)
Inner Asian Studies (Loretta Kim)
Iran and Persian Studies (Assef Ashraf)
Islamic Studies (Matthew Melvin-Koushki)
*Japan Studies
 (William Fleming, Akiko Takenaka and Niels van Steenpaal)
*Korean Studies (John DiMoia)
Latin American Studies (Jennifer Lambe)
Medical Anthropology (Leon Rocha)
Performance Studies (Emily Wilcox and Ron Gilliam)
Print and Media Cultures (Amelia Bonea)
Russian Studies (Philippa Hetherington)
South Asian Studies (Rebecca Grapevine)
Southeast Asian Studies (Chiara Formichi)
Tibetan and Himalayan Studies (Nicole Willock and Nancy G. Lin)
Visual Studies (Rikke Schmidt Kjaergaard)
[* Japan Studies is a continuation of the field pioneered by Dennis Frost, and Korean Studies is an expansion of the great work done by Nancy Abelmann and Laura Nelson]

In addition, our current constellation of fields will continue to operate, featuring reviews of work in:

Chinese History (Thomas S. Mullaney)
Japan Studies (William Fleming)
Science Studies (Leon Rocha)



Thomas S. Mullaney (Editor-in-Chief/Chinese History) is Associate Professor of Chinese History at Stanford University. He is the author of Coming to Terms with the Nation: Ethnic Classification in Modern China (University of California Press 2011, Foreword by Benedict Anderson). This book charts the history of China’s 1954 Ethnic Classification project (minzu shibie), a joint social scientific-Communist state expedition wherein a group of ethnologists, linguists, and Party cadres traveled to the most ethnically diverse province in the People’s Republic to determine which minority communities would and would not be officially recognized by the state. He is also principal editor of Critical Han Studies: The History, Representation and Identity of China’s Majority (University of California Press 2012). His current book project, The Chinese Typewriter: A Global History, examines China’s nineteenth- and twentieth-century development of a character-based information infrastructure encompassing Chinese telegraphy, typewriting, character retrieval systems, shorthand, Braille, word processing, and computing. [Website here]

Leon Rocha (Managing Editor/Science Studies/Medical Anthropology) is Research Fellow at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, affiliated with the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Faculty of History and the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge. He is also Affiliated Researcher at the Needham Research Institute, Cambridge. In 2012 he was International Research Fellow at the Dahlem Humanities Center, Freie Universität Berlin. He completed his doctoral thesis, entitled “Sex, Eugenics, Aesthetics, Utopia in the Life and Work of Zhang Jingsheng (1888-1970)” at Cambridge (2010), and was Lecturer in the History of Medicine at Yale University and D. Kim Foundation for the History of Science and Technology in East Asia Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Needham Research Institute. His current research interests include the history of gender and sexuality in twentieth-century China, and the making of Joseph Needham’s Science and Civilisation in China project. [Website here]

Assef Ashraf (Iran Studies) is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at Yale University. His dissertation, “From Khan to Shah: The Rise of a Qajar Political and Court Culture in Iran, 1785-1848,” examines the efforts by early Qajar rulers to consolidate their power through kinship ties, marriage alliances, and patronage of the arts. More broadly, his interests include the early modern and modern history of Iran, early modern Muslim empires, travel literature, and the culture and economy of gift-exchange.

Amelia Bonea (Print and Media Cultures) is a Junior Research Fellow in South Asian History at the Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, and Associate Member of the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” at Heidelberg University. Amelia received her PhD in Modern History (2012) from Heidelberg University, with a dissertation which investigated how the emergence of a global network of telegraphy during the nineteenth century shaped conceptions of news and news-reporting practices in colonial South Asia. The dissertation aimed to offer a balanced account of the social life of telegraphy and its intersections with journalism, by conceptualizing telegraphy not only as a revolutionary technology which had the potential to “conquer” time and space, but also as an efficient instrument of censorship in colonial India. Prior to her move to Heidelberg, Amelia spent seven years in Japan as a Japanese Government scholar, graduating with a BLA and an MA in Asian Area Studies from the University of Tokyo. Amelia’s main research interests and publications have examined the intersections of media, technology and science from a global and historical perspective. She is currently working on a book manuscript provisionally titled Global (Dis)Connections: Telegraphy and Journalism in India, c. 1850-1900, while also collecting material for a comparative study of telegraphic communication in nineteenth-century South and East Asia. Amelia is also active as a translator of Japanese scholarship into English. Her most recent translation, Chapter 3 of Akiko Yamasaki’s Kindai Nihon no “shugei” to jenda [“Handicrafts” and Gender in Modern Japan] is due to appear in the Journal of Modern Craft in November 2012.

John P. DiMoia (Modern Korea) is Assistant Professor in History at the National University of Singapore, where he teaches courses about the history of Modern Korea (1876-present) as well as the broader history of Science, Medicine, and Technology (Western Europe, North America, East Asia / 18th century-present). He is also affiliated with the STS group at the University and is an Associate Fellow at Tembusu College at NUS. He holds a PhD in the History of Science from Princeton University (2007) with a dissertation on the formation of South Korean scientific institutions and practices (1945-present), and in revised form, this book will be published as Reconstructing Bodies: Biomedicine, Health, and Nation-Building in South Korea Since 1945 (Stanford University Press, June 2013). Other interests include the history of disease and epidemics, the comparative history of statistics, demography and epidemiological practices, the history of nuclear power, and energy issues since the mid to late 19th century. [Website here]

William Fleming (Premodern Japanese Literature) is currently a Postdoctoral Associate at the Council on East Asian Studies at Yale University, and in 2012-13 will start as Assistant Professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures and Theater Studies at Yale. He specializes in the literature and cultural history of early modern Japan. His dissertation, entitled “The World Beyond the Walls: Morishima Chūryō (1756-1810) and the Development of Late Edo Fiction” (Harvard 2011), explores the rich interrelationship between early modern Japanese fiction and contemporary intellectual movements including nativist studies and inquiry into Dutch, vernacular Chinese, and Russian materials. The dissertation challenges the view of Edo fiction as largely isolated from outside influence and offers a new way of thinking about the transformation of gesaku, the period’s so-called “playful literature,” from a pastime of the intellectual elite into a form of true popular fiction. His current research interests include the representation of disease and the body in premodern Japanese literature and the reception of Chinese fiction in the late Edo period, with a particular focus on the case of Pu Songling’s celebrated collection of “strange” tales, Liaozhai zhiyi. [Website here]

Chiara Formichi (Southeast Asian Studies) is Assistant Professor of Asian and International Studies at City University of Hong Kong. She has a PhD in History of Southeast Asia (SOAS, London), and her background is in Arabic language and Islamic Studies (BA Hons., University of Rome “La Sapienza”), and Southeast Asian Studies (MA, SOAS). Her academic interest in Indonesia developed after she started her undergraduate studies in Rome, and it was a confluence of fascination with the political position of Islam there, and her upbringing in Bali, where is only performed by Javanese migrants (for the most part) and under the heavy shadow of a Hindu majority. PhD research developed around the life and political career of Kartosuwiryo, leader of the Darul Islam movement and head of an Islamic state of Indonesian in the 1949-1962 period. The related monograph is titled Islam and the making of the nation: Kartosuwiryo and Political Islam in 20th century Indonesia (HITLV/University of Hawai’i Press, 2012). Current research has focused on the transfer and impact of Mustafa Kemal’s secularization reforms to Indonesia, as well as on ‘Alid piety and the formation of Shi’i communities in contemporary Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. On this she has a co-edited volume Shi’ism and Beyond: Alid Piety in Muslim Southeast Asia (Formichi and Feener, eds) which is to be published in 2013. Her research interests range from modern Islamic political thought, contemporary expressions of Islam, and transnational connections between Muslim Southeast Asia and the greater Middle Eastern region. She teaches undergraduate courses on Religion and Society in Asia, History and Society in Asia, and postgraduate modules on Transnational Islam, and State and Society in the Middle East. [Website here]

Ronald Gilliam (Performance Studies) is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Theatre & Dance at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, where he focuses on the history and development of Uyghur drama in Chinese Central Asia. He previously received his MA in Performance Studies at New York University and his BAs in Theatre / Chinese Language & Culture from Butler University. His dissertation, “Towards an Ethical Theatre: The History and Development of Uyghur Dramatic Art in Chinese Central Asia,” examines the creation of professional Uyghur staged drama and how these new dramatic works generated a collective Uyghur identity based on ethical themes. Ronald has published in e-misférica Asian Theatre Journal and maintains active roles in the International Federation for Theatre Research (FIRT/IFTR) and the Association for Asian Performance (AAP). In addition to his academic career, Ronald continues to professionally direct theatre performances in Honolulu, the mainland USA, and abroad.

Rebecca Grapevine (South Asian Studies) is a PhD Candidate in the Department of History at the University of Michigan. Her dissertation, “A Common Law Doctrine in a Post-Colonial World: Coverture in India, 1945-70,” examines the history of a patriarchal English legal doctrine in India after Independence. Her broader scholarly interests include Indian legal history, and its connections to American and English legal history, the history of 20th century India, and the history of religion in India. She is fluent in Hindi and has a reading knowledge of Urdu. From 2008 to 2010, she conducted archival research in New Delhi and Lucknow, India with the support of a Fulbright-Hays DDRA fellowship. She also spent two terms as a visiting student at the Delhi University Faculty of Law, where she studied Family Law and Constitutional Law. [Website here]

Philippa Hetherington (Russian Studies) is a PhD candidate in Russian history at Harvard University. She is currently completing research for her dissertation, titled “Victims of the Social Temperament: Prostitution, Migration and the Traffic in Women in Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union.” Building on research conducted in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Odessa, Geneva and London, this project examines the emergence of ‘trafficking in women’ as a specific crime in turn of the century Russia, and links this with the development of international humanitarian law, imperial governance, and migratory regimes. Her broader interests include the history of gender and sexuality, comparative legal history, and culture and society at the fin-de-siècle. [Website here]

Tamara Kayali (Bioethics) is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Novel Tech Ethics team at Dalhousie University. She completed her PhD in the Department of Social Sciences at Cambridge University. Her dissertation focused on issues of control, responsibility and the self in depression and used qualitative interviews with women to explore this topic. Tamara has lectured in bioethics at Sydney University and the Australian National University. She has a variety of research interests but is primarily interested in neuroethics and ethics of reproduction. She first completed a Bachelor in Biotechnology from the Australian National University before completing her Honours and MPhil in History and Philosophy of Science at Sydney University and Cambridge University (respectively). Her most recent publication is the paper “Depression as unhomelike being-in-the-world? Phenomenology’s challenge to our understanding of illness”, co-authored with Furhan Iqbal, in Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy (2012). [Website here]

Loretta Kim (Inner Asian Studies) is Assistant Professor History at Hong Kong Baptist University. She holds AM and PhD degrees from Harvard University, and started her academic career at the State University of New York at Albany. Her primary research interests are Qing-dynasty frontier administration, the history of Northeastern China from 1600 to the present, and ethnicity in contemporary China. In addition to these topics, she has taught graduate and undergraduate courses on 20th century Chinese history in film, Europeans in East Asia during the 15th through 19th centuries, and comparative cases of imperialism and colonialism in Asia. [Website here]

Rikke Schmidt Kjaergaard (Visual Studies) is Assistant Professor of Visual Communication of Nanoscience at Aarhus University (Denmark). She received her PhD in Science Communication in 2008, and have since held Postdoctoral Fellowships at University of Cambridge and Harvard University working with optimizing visual communication in molecular biology. Her research focuses on animation and graphics in science, and on how changing technologies, and changing modes and usage of visualization tools transform visual representation, the scientific process, scientific communication and visual culture, and inspire scientific innovation. Her most recent publication is the chapter “Things to see and do: how scientific images work” for the book Successful Science Communication: Telling it like it is (Cambridge University Press 2011).

Lucas Klein (Chinese Literature) is Assistant Professor in the Department of Chinese, Translation & Linguistics at the City University of Hong Kong. His dissertation, “Foreign Echoes & Discerning the Soil: Dual Translation, Historiography, & World Literature in Chinese Poetry” (Yale 2010), looks at the intersections of concepts of World Literature and Chinese Poetry in both the modern and medieval eras to trace the shifting configurations of “Chineseness” against foreign poetic influence. He is the co-editor, with Haun Saussy and Jonathan Stalling, of The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry: A Critical Edition, by Ernest Fenollosa and Ezra Pound (Fordham University Press 2008), and the translator of Notes on the Mosquito, the selected poems of Xi Chuan (New Directions 2012). [Website here]

Jennifer Lambe (Latin American Studies) is a PhD Candidate in the Department of History at Yale University, where she focuses on modern Caribbean and Latin American history. She received her A.B. in History and Gender Studies from Brown University. Her dissertation, “Baptism by Fire: The Making and Remaking of Madness in Cuba, 1899-1980,” examines the history of mental illness and mental healing in Cuba from the time of independence from Spain, with a focus on both institutional psychiatry and popular healing. She has published in Estudios Interdisciplinarios de América Latina y el Caribe and Cuba: People, Culture, History (ed. Alan West-Durán, 2011).

Nancy G. Lin (Tibetan and Himayalan Studies) is currently an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Religion and the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Program at Dartmouth College. In January 2013 she will start as Assistant Professor of Buddhist Traditions of South Asia in the Department of Religious Studies at Vanderbilt University. Her research interests are in the cultural history of Tibetan Buddhism during the early modern period, and include Buddhist hagiographical literature and art, the innovative interpretation of canonical tradition amidst social change, and Tibetan engagement with other courtly cultures of South and East Asia. Her current book project examines how Tibetan monastic and courtly culture intersected during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, especially through productions of the Wish-Fulfilling Vine (Skt. Avadanakalpalata, Tb. Dpag bsam ‘khri shing), Ksemendra’s Sanskrit anthology of Buddhist narratives. Professor Lin’s other research projects address Tibetan re-imaginings of the Buddha’s life and the development of classical Tibetan poetry and poetics from Sanskrit models in institutional, material, and ritual contexts. [Website here]

Matthew Melvin-Koushki (Islamic Studies) recently completed a joint appointment as Postdoctoral Research Assistant at the Faculty of Oriental Studies and Junior Research Fellow at Pembroke College, University of Oxford, and will be joining the Near Eastern Studies department at Princeton University as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Study of Iran and the Persianate World. His dissertation, “The Quest for a Universal Science: The Occult Philosophy of Ṣā’in al-Dīn Turka Iṣfahānī (1369-1432) and Intellectual Millenarianism in Early Timurid Iran” (Yale 2012), won the Middle East Studies Association’s Malcolm H. Kerr award for best dissertation in the humanities. This study demonstrates the integrality of occult modes of knowledge to late medieval and early modern millenarian-universalist projects, whether in the Islamicate heartlands or Renaissance Europe. As a case in point, it focuses on the mainstreaming of lettrist or kabbalistic thought in intellectual circles in 15th-century Iran. Matthew’s current research expands on this theme to explore the theory and practice of the so-called ‘occult sciences’ in the context of both history of science and history of philosophy in the Islamicate world, and particularly their frequent interpenetration with ‘legitimate’ sciences such as astronomy or medicine through the early modern period. His most recent article, “Occultism and Universalism in Early Modern Islamicate Intellectual History,” is due to appear in al-‘Usur al-Wusta in April 2013. [Website here]

Niels van Steenpaal (Japan Studies) is a research fellow at the University of Tokyo where he conducts research on various aspects of early modern Japanese “moral culture,” a term that he uses to describe the pathways, processes and media through which morality finds expression in material culture. Although he still has a soft spot for the subject of his dissertation, “The Celebration of Filial Children in Early Modern Japan: Towards a History of Moral Culture” (Kyoto University 2012), which explored the cultural patterns behind the “creation” of filial children, he has now turned his attention to developing a statistical methodology to harness collective biographical material in order to look at the long term development of moral vocabulary throughout the Edo, Meiji and Taisho period. [Website here]

Akiko Takenaka (Japan Studies) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the University of Kentucky. She specializes in the cultural and social history of modern Japan with research focus on memory and historiography of the Asia-Pacific War. Trained as an architect and an architectural historian, she is particularly interested in the intersection between memory and space, and has examined a variety of memorial spaces broadly conceived, including memorials, museums and urban spaces, as well as virtual spaces of memory. She is the author of the book Memory and Spatial Practice: Yasukuni Shrine and Japan’s Unending Postwar, which will be published in the “Study of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute” series. The work examines Yasukuni Shrine — the contentious war memorial in Tokyo, Japan — as a physical space, object of visual and spatial representation, and site of spatial practice in order to highlight the complexity of Yasukuni’s past and critique the official narratives that postwar debates have responded to. She is currently working on a new project entitled War, Trauma and Postwar in Japan and East Asia in which she investigates the effect of trauma on war memory, as well as the influence of such representations on international relations in East Asia. She has published in journals such as The Pacific Historical Review, The Review of Japanese Culture and Society, and The Asia-Pacific Journal: The Japan Focus. She has received her PhD in Art History from Yale University, and a MS in the History, Theory and Criticism of Architecture and Art from MIT.  Her undergraduate degree is BEng in architecture from the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Prior to her appointment at the University of Kentucky, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for the Art of East Asia (University of Chicago), and the Michigan Society of Fellows (University of Michigan). [Website here]

Caroline Walters (Gender and Sexuality) is a Visiting Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at Middlesex University. She is currently working on her first monograph, which is adapted from her 2012 dissertation, entitled Discourses of Heterosexual Female Masochism and Submission from the 1880s to the Present Day (University of Exeter, supervised by Professor Lisa Downing). She is the contributing co-editor of Fat Sex: New Directions in Theory and Activism (in preparation) and a special issue of the peer-reviewed journal Sexualities on Theorising Fat Sexuality (forthcoming). She has organized several conferences (“Bisexuality and Mental Health” in Bradford, UK 2012; “Public Engagement in Gender and Sexuality Studies” in Newcastle, UK 2011; “Forgotten Bodies” in Exeter, UK 2010).  Broadly her research focuses upon the intersection between literary, filmic, theoretical and scientific texts as they formulate discourses of sexuality, particularly in its “non-normative” forms, mental health and “fat” bodies. Website.

Emily Wilcox (Performance Studies) is Assistant Professor of Modern Chinese Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (starting Fall 2013) and holds an international postdoctoral research fellowship at the Shanghai Theater Academy. Her research focuses on dance in the People’s Republic of China. Emily received her PhD from the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, her MPhil from the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge, and her AB from the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University. Emily’s doctoral dissertation, titled “The Dialectics of Virtuosity: Dance in the People’s Republic of China, 1949-2009,” is the basis for several publication projects, including a book manuscript on the politics of aesthetics in Chinese national dance. Her English and Chinese-language publications appear in Asian Theater Journal, Body and Society, Journal for the Anthropological Study of Human Movement, Kroeber Anthropology Society Papers, The Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism, Wudao Pinglun (The Dance Review), Yihai (Art), and the edited volume Chinese Modernity and the Individual Psyche.

Nicole Willock (Tibetan and Himayalan Studies) is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Denver. Her primary research interests are in Sino-Tibetan relations, and the dynamic processes of state-driven secularization and Tibetan ethno-religious identity in 20th century China. She is currently revising the manuscript, “A Tibetan Buddhist Polymath in Modern China,” for publication and is in the final stages of writing a bilingual primer on Tibetan poetics co-written with Indiana University lecturer Gedun Rabsal. Willock also began a new research project underwritten by a 2012 Columbia University Libraries Research Award on “Secularism and ‘Superstition’ in Tibetan Intellectual History”, using the Tharchin Collection at the C.V. Starr East Asian Library. At the University of Denver she teaches on politics and religion in modern China, religions of Tibet, and Buddhism in the USA from global and local perspectives. [Website here]



Nancy Abelmann (Korean Studies) is Professor of Asian American Studies, Anthropology, East Asian Languages and Cultures, and Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She is the author of numerous books, including The Intimate University: Korean American Students and the Problems of Segregation (Duke University Press 2009) and The Melodrama of Mobility: Women, Talk, and Class in Contemporary South Korea (University of Hawaii Press 2003). [Website here]

Dennis Frost (Japan Studies) is Wen Chao Chen Assistant Professor of East Asian Studies at Kalamazoo College. His first book, Seeing Stars: Sports Celebrity, Identity, and Body Culture in Modern Japan (Harvard Asia Center, 2011), traces the emergence and evolution of sports celebrity in Japan from the 1600s through the present, giving particular attention to the ways in which sports stars have both reflected and shaped society and body culture. He is currently working on two different projects. One is a study of sporting events for disabled athletes, which examines the different ways in which Japanese society has perceived and addressed disability in the postwar period, and the second is a comparative study examining the histories of several military “base towns” in Okinawa and other regions in Japan, which explores the U.S. military’s ongoing influence on the people, society, culture, and environment of post-war Japan. [Website here]

Elizabeth McGuire (Russian Studies) is an Academy Scholar at the Harvard Academy for International and Areas Studies, and earned her PhD at UC Berkeley in 2010. Her book manuscript is entitled The Sino-Soviet Romance: How Chinese Communists Fell in Love with the Russian Revolution. Her second project is called Communist Neverland: A Russian International Children’s Home and the Global Family it Created, 1933-2013. [Website here]

Laura Nelson (Korean Studies) is Associate Professor and Chair of Anthropology at California State University East Bay, and is the author of Measured Excess: Status, Gender, and Consumer Nationalism in South Korea on economic and social change in South Korea. She has two projects in development for this area, one on credit cards and one on changing demographics in South Korea. Her research extends as well to the anthropology of public policies in this country, particularly from an applied perspective.  She is conducting interviews with women in the Bay Area who participated between 6 and 10 years ago in microenterprise programs aiming to help them achieve self-sufficiency to find out what their experiences have been with self-employment.

Michelle C. Wang (Asian Art History) is Assistant Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at Georgetown University, where her research focuses upon Buddhist art in China, particularly concerning esoteric and Huayan motifs during the Tang Dynasty. Michelle received a PhD from the Department of History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University, her MA from the Department of Art History at the University of Kansas, and her B.A. from the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. Michelle is currently working on a book manuscript provisionally titled “Multiplicity and its Resonance in the Buddhist Visual Culture of Medieval China,” which focuses upon the late Tang Dynasty Mogao Cave 14 at Dunhuang in northwestern China in conjunction with portable paintings, diagrams, and manuscripts. She also has an article forthcoming in the edited volume Blackwell Companion to East and Inner Asian Buddhism. [Website here]