I am a human geographer and qualitative social scientist interested broadly in Southeast Asia’s politics, societies, and environments. My research brings classic themes of social inquiry such as nationalism, state formation, and agrarian political economy into dialog with cutting-edge concepts of boundaries, territory, and cultural difference, including racial and ethnic formations. My prize-winning book Contested Territory: Dien Bien Phu and the Making of Northwest Vietnam (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019) focuses on a borderlands region and the processes through which its peoples and places were made Vietnamese, sometimes against their will. My next project connects decolonization in Vietnam to Indonesia by examining their divergent Cold War trajectories and convergent experiences of mass violence. Another project draws on research conducted in Sumba, Indonesia in 1997 and 2000 to restudy social adaptation to the El Nino Southern Oscillation and its environmental outcomes. By engaging students on these themes and a range of topics—from revolutionary struggle in Vietnam to social change in North Carolina, from growing coffee in Indonesia to drinking it at Starbucks—my teaching aims to make the foreign familiar and the familiar strange again.

PhD (2011) in Development Sociology, Cornell University
MS (2004) in Development Sociology, Cornell University
MESc (2001) in Forestry & Environmental Studies, Yale University
BA summa cum laude (1997) in College Scholar & Asian Studies, Cornell University

Affiliations at UNC-CH:
Department of Geography
Southeast Asian Approaches
Carolina Asia Center
Center for Global Initiatives
Center for Urban and Regional Studies
Department of Asian Studies
Decolonization in the Global South
My current CV:
Christian and friends in East Sumba, Indonesia in 1997.