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I am a historian with a focus on China and its place in the modern world, with a keen interest in how perceptions of the past compare with what the historical record can reveal about non-Western cultures in particular.

My work has investigated little-understood disaster relief systems in late 19th and early 20th-century China and shown how they complicate the universalist claims and narratives provided by the overwhelmingly Western-centric academic field of humanitarian studies. More recently, I have examined the surprising kinship between how revolutionary movements, such as Maoism, and European colonial projects described and intervened in the lives of rural peoples. I am currently looking into early ethnographic writing by French and English explorers and missionaries in 18th and 19th-century Australasia, exploring its relationship with the formal social scientific study of rural Chinese in the 20th century.