The Liberal Art University in Hong Kong
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Associate Professor

Tel.: (852) 2616-8316
Fax.: (852) 2467-7478

Academic & Professional Qualifications

Ph.D., Yale University, History, 2014

M.Phil., Yale University, History, 2011

B.A., Princeton University, History, 2005


Areas of Interest

United States in the world; twentieth century U.S. political, cultural, and intellectual history; colonial and imperial formations; history of the social sciences; history of technology; media history.


  • Research
  • Conference Presentations


My first book, Barriers Down: How American Power and Free-Flow Policies Shaped Global Media (Columbia University Press, 2019), charts the history of freedom of information from its rise in the mid-20th-century United States to the beginnings of the digital age in the 1980s. Following World War II, generations of Americans argued that abundant and varied information promoted democracy and undermined regimes that sought to control what people read, heard, and watched. Yet this approach, which aimed to attract mass global support, also met with criticism and resistance—from allies as well as adversaries. Its largely unexplored history suggests both the strengths and the limitations of U.S. global power from 1945 through the 1980s. Barriers Down tells this story, exposing the analog roots of contemporary debates over the politics and ethics of transnational information flows.


A second project, with the working title “Applied Linguistics in the American Century,” analyzes how Americans navigated the embodied reality of global language diversity in the 20th century. Situated at the intersection of the history of the United States in the world, the history of ideas and of the social sciences, and the history of decolonization and development, the project explores how U.S. international engagements—from the Second World War through the Vietnam War to university exchanges in post-Mao China—shaped American efforts to learn languages and to perfect new language-training pedagogies and technologies. In addition, it will examine how American language capabilities (or lack thereof) inflected the deployment of U.S. power outside of North America.


I have also written shorter pieces for Foreign Affairs and the Washington Post.


My work has been supported by the Georges Lurcy Charitable and Educational Trust, the Smith Richardson Foundation, the Foreign Language Area Studies Program, the Hong Kong Research Grants Council Early Career Scheme, and the Hong Kong Research Grants Council General Research Fund.

Academic Publications



  • “Language Training and the Liberal Cold War, 1947-63.” Paper presented at the Society for U.S. Intellectual History Conference, the New School, New York City, Nov. 2019
  • “Barriers Down: How American Power and Free-Flow Policies Shaped Global Media.” Invited lecture, Society of Fellows, University of Hong Kong, Oct. 2019
  • “Farewell to the Free-Flow Age?” Invited lecture, Communication Seminar Series, C-Centre, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Oct. 2019
  • “Satellites and the End of Sovereignty? Debates over Direct-Broadcast Technology and U.S. Communications Policy in the 1960s and 1970s.” Paper presented at the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations Conference, Arlington, Virginia, Jun. 2019
  • “‘The Weapon of Words’: Language Training, the United States in the World, and the World in the United States, 1941-70.” Invited lecture, American Studies Programme, School of Modern Languages and Cultures, University of Hong Kong, Apr. 2019
  • “‘The Weapon of Words’: Military Language Training and U.S. Internationalism, 1941-1958.” Paper presented at the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations Conference, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 2018
  • “Speaking in Tongues: U.S. Power, Applied Linguistics, and Development Aid, 1945-1970.” Paper presented at the Society for the History of Recent Social Science Conference, Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands, June 2017
  • “The End of Empires and Some Linguistic Turns.” Paper presented at the “Connected Histories, Mirrored Empires: British and French Imperialism from the 17th through the 20th Centuries” Conference, University of Hong Kong, May 2016
  • “A Prehistory of Media Convergence: Film in Euro-American Freedom of Information Debates, 1944-1948.” Public lecture sponsored by the Hong Kong European Studies Association, Hong Kong Baptist University, Oct. 2015
  • “Broadcasting Satellites, U.S. Global Power, and the Francophone World.” Paper presented at the International Association for Media and Communication Research Conference, Montreal, Canada, Jul. 2015
  • “Technologizing Freedom: U.S. Media Industries and Human Rights, 1943-1950.” Paper presented at the Business History Conference, Columbus, Ohio, Mar. 2013
  • “Towards a Radical Historiography of Human Rights: Modernizing Press and Speech Freedoms in the United States, 1943-1950.” Paper presented at the Radical Americas Conference, University College London, Jan. 2013
  • “‘[The] Experiments are of International Significance’: Television, Education, and Human Rights in Postwar France.” Paper presented at the Warren Susman Conference, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, Mar. 2011
  • “André Bazin and Cold War Film Festivals, 1946-1953.” Paper presented at the “Ouvrir Bazin/Opening Bazin” Conference, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, Dec. 2008
  • “André Bazin et les festivals de cinéma au début de la Guerre froide, 1946-1953.” Paper presented at the “Ouvrir Bazin/Opening Bazin” Conference, Université Paris Diderot, Nov. 2008