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I am a historian of the modern U.S. specialising in urban history, environmental history, the history of capitalism, and histories of mobility. I taught in Baltimore, Shanghai, and Hong Kong before coming to Durham in 2023.

My first book, Steam City, published in 2020, examines how early railroads reconfigured the built environments of U.S. cities, with particular attention to Baltimore, Maryland, the birthplace of American railroading. I am currently working on two book projects. One is a history of traffic control in nineteenth-century New York City that situates city authorities' efforts to regulate movement through the streets within the broader attempts of national and imperial polities to discipline mobility in an age of mass migration. This project, titled 'Gridlocked,' has been supported by grants and fellowships from the Hong Kong University Grants Committee, the New York Public Library, and the Clements Library of the University of Michigan. The other book project, titled 'Asphalt Empire,' is a history of the asphalt industry in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It examines how 'asphaltum' extracted from Trinidad's Pitch Lake by a colonial workforce came to pave the streets of cities throughout the United States.

Research interests

  • + modern U.S. history
  • + urban history
  • + environmental history
  • + history of capitalism
  • + mobility studies