Bio


Thomas S. Mullaney is Professor of Chinese History at Stanford University, and Curator of the international exhibition, Radical Machines: Chinese in the Information Age.

He is the author of The Chinese Typewriter: A History (MIT Press 2017), Coming to Terms with the Nation: Ethnic Classification in Modern China (UC Press, 2010), and principal editor of Critical Han Studies: The History, Representation and Identity of China’s Majority (UC Press, 2011). His writings have appeared in the Journal of Asian Studies, Technology & Culture, Aeon, Foreign Affairs, and Foreign Policy, and his work has been featured in the LA Times, The Atlantic, the BBC, and in invited lectures at Google, Microsoft, Adobe, and more. He holds a PhD from Columbia University.

His new book, The Chinese Typewriter, examines China’s development of a modern, nonalphabetic information infrastructure encompassing telegraphy, typewriting, word processing, and computing. This project has received three major awards and fellowships, including the 2013 Usher Prize, a three-year National Science Foundation fellowship, and a Hellman Faculty Fellowship.

He directs Digital Humanities Asia (DHAsia), a program at Stanford University focused on East, South, Southeast, and Inner/Central Asia. DHAsia was recently the recipient of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar fellowship.

He is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Dissertation Reviews, which publishes more than 500 reviews annually of recently defended dissertations in nearly 30 different fields in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Academic Appointments


  • Professor, History

Administrative Appointments


  • Professor, Chinese History, Stanford University (2019 - Present)
  • Associate Professor, Chinese History, Stanford University (2012 - 2018)
  • Assistant Professor, Chinese History, Stanford University (2006 - 2012)

Honors & Awards


  • Abbot Payson Usher Prize, Society for the History of Technology (2013)
  • American Historical Association Pacific Branch Award, American Historical Association Pacific Branch (2011)
  • Annenberg Faculty Fellow, Stanford University (2010-2012)
  • William H. and Frances Green Faculty Fellow, Stanford University (2010-2011)
  • Freeman Spogli Institute China Fund, Stanford University (2010)
  • Hellman Faculty Scholar, Stanford University (2009)
  • ACLS/Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation A ward, ACLS, American Council of Learning Societies (2008)
  • Stanford College Dean's Office of Humanities and Sciences Award, Stanford University (2008)
  • Stanford Center for East Asian Studies Award, Stanford University (2008)
  • Stanford Humanities Center Award, Stanford University (2008)
  • Social Science Research Council International Pre-Dissertation Fellowship, Social Science Research Council (2002-2003)
  • Advanced Oral History Summer Institute, University of California Berkeley (2002)
  • Japanese Language Training Program for Postgraduate Students, Japan Foundation (2001)
  • Weatherhead Foundation Fellowship, Columbia University (2000-2006)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations


  • Member, World History Group, Stanford University
  • Member, History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, Stanford University
  • Member, American Historical Association
  • Member, History of Science Society
  • Member, Science, Technology and Society, Stanford University
  • Member, Society for the History of Technology
  • Member, Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, Stanford University
  • Member, Clayman Institute for Gender Research, Stanford University
  • Director, DHAsia | Digital Humanities Asia Project (2015 - Present)
  • Faculty Fellow and PhD Advisor, Modern Thought and Literature, Stanford University (2015 - Present)
  • Chair and Judge, Book Prize Committee, John K. Fairbank Prize in East Asian History, American Historical Association (2014 - Present)
  • Faculty Fellow, Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA), Stanford University (2014 - Present)
  • Faculty Fellow, Science, Technology and Society, Stanford University (2014 - Present)
  • Member, Policy Committee, History Department, Stanford University (2012 - Present)
  • Science Technology and Society (STS) undergraduate advisor, Stanford University (2012 - Present)
  • Global/World History undergraduate course steering committee member, Stanford University (2012 - 2013)
  • Judge, Book Prize Committee, John K. Fairbank Prize in East Asian History, American Historical Association (2012 - 2013)
  • Member, TIG (Transnational International Global) History Graduate Application Review Committee, Stanford University (2012 - 2013)
  • Search Committee member, Academic Technology Specialist (hired Jason Heppler), Stanford University (2012 - 2013)
  • Search Committee member, Latin American History, (hired Ana Minian), History Department, Stanford University (2012 - 2013)
  • Tenure committee member for Jun Uchida, History Department, Stanford University (2012 - 2013)
  • University Pre-Major Advisor, Stanford University (2012 - 2013)
  • Member, Association for Asian Studies (2001 - Present)

Program Affiliations


  • Center for East Asian Studies
  • Modern Thought and Literature
  • Science, Technology and Society

Professional Education


  • Ph.D., Columbia University, History (2006)
  • M.A., Johns Hopkins University, Humanities (2000)
  • B.A., Johns Hopkins University, International Studies & East Asian Studies (1999)

Current Research and Scholarly Interests


Thomas S. Mullaney 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 and principal editor of Critical Han Studies: The History, Representation and Identity of China’s Majority. He received his BA and MA degrees from the Johns Hopkins University, and his PhD from Columbia University under the direction of Madeleine Zelin.

His most recent project, The Chinese Typewriter: A Global History, examines China’s development of a modern, nonalphabetic information infrastructure encompassing telegraphy, typewriting, word processing, and computing. This project has received three major awards and fellowships, including the 2013 Usher Prize, a three-year National Science Foundation fellowship, and a Hellman Faculty Fellowship. The book manuscript is about to be submitted for formal editorial review.

He also directs DHAsia, a new Digital Humanities initiative at Stanford University focused on East, South, Southeast, and Inner/Central Asia. The program is supported by the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA). DHAsia 2016 will center around a series of intellectually intensive 3-day visits by a core group of scholars incorporating three components: (a) a 45-minute talk on their research; (b) a hands-on Digital Humanities clinic for faculty and graduate students (focused on the particular tool/technique/method/platform employed in their work); and (c) a schedule of one-on-one meetings with interested faculty and graduate student researchers.

He is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Dissertation Reviews, which publishes more than 500 reviews annually of recently defended dissertations in nearly 30 different fields in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Projects


  • Hot Metal Empire: Script, Media, and Colonialism in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East

    At the turn of the twentieth century, a breakthrough in typesetting transformed the modern media landscape. Hot metal typesetting displaced moveable type, sweeping newspaper plants throughout the United States and Europe - and soon Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. With missionary-like zeal reminiscent of the Propaganda Fide, and a hunger for lucrative new markets, the manufacturing giant Mergenthaler Linotype, and its London-based licensee Linotype and Machinery, carved up the world of script along already lines of empire, colonialism, and the rising power of the United States. Soon, letterform artists and sales representatives in Brooklyn and London found themselves trafficking in Arabic, Armenian, Burmese, Devanagari, Hebrew, Korean, Mongolian, Siamese, and over one hundred others scripts. Hot Metal Empire charts the transformation of media and script in in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

    Location

    Asia/Africa/MiddleEast/Global

  • Ethnic Potential: The Constitution of Minority Identities in Post-Classification China, Stanford University

    In China of the 1950s, ethnologists, linguists, and Communist authorities undertook a bureaucratic-cum-social scientific project known as the “Ethnic Classification.” Here it was determined which among China’s hundreds of ethnic minority communities would and would not be officially recognized by the state. Such was the subject of his first book, Coming to Terms with the Nation: Ethnic Classification in Modern China (UC Press, 2011). What followed after the Classification was an equally if not more complex process which historians have yet to understand, let alone document. Having merged nearly 400 minority communities into just 55 officially recognized categories, the Chinese state would now need to determine (or invent) the “standard” form of each: a standard or “representative” dialect, clothing style, dance-form, folklore, historical narrative, and much more. What ensued was a deeply politicized process in which state authorities, social scientists, and ethnic minority elites struggled to determine the hierarchies that would govern intra-ethnic (as compared to inter-ethnic) relations for which group - a profound challenge when we consider that single “groups” encompassed upwards of dozens of distinct subgroups or “branches.” For those ethnic subgroups whose spoken language and cultural forms were designated as “representative” of the group overall, one could expect to hear it broadcast over radio and television, and encounter one’s cultural practices in print, performance, film, pedagogy, museums exhibits, and more - the primus inter pares. For those whose cultural forms were demarcated as “dialectal” or “variant,” by contrast, their potential fate stood in stark contrast: a marked absence of state investment in their identity forms, and the specter of widespread, local-level cultural extinctions. This book investigates the constitution of minority identities in the post-Classification period.

    Location

    China

  • QWERTY is Dead: A History of the Chinese Computer

    As the first-ever history of Chinese computing in the 20th and 21st centuries, QWERTY is Dead will explore the circuitous pathways and eccentric personalities of this unknown chapter in the history of global information technology. Drawing upon extensive oral histories, material artifacts, and archives from Asia, Europe, and the United States, the book charts out the pursuit of Chinese computing from its inception in the early Cold War period; its pathway through a network of American academic and military outfits that included MIT, the CIA, the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Army, the Pentagon, the RAND Corporation, and the Graphics Arts Research Foundation; to its development within a burgeoning network of Chinese, Taiwanese, and Japanese computer scientists from the 1970s onward.

    Location

    China/Global

  • The Chinese Deathscape, Stanford University Press

    In the past decade alone, ten million corpses have been exhumed and reburied across the Chinese landscape. The campaign has transformed China’s graveyards into sites of acute personal, social, political, and economic contestation.

    Led by volume editor Thomas S. Mullaney, three historians of the Chinese world analyze the phenomenon of grave relocation via essays that move from the local to the global. Starting with an exploration of the phenomenon of “baby towers” in the Lower Yangzi region of late imperial China (Jeffrey Snyder-Reinke), and moving to an overview of the histories of death in the city of Shanghai (Christian Henriot), the final essay takes a broader view to discuss the history of grave relocation and its implications for our understanding of modern China overall (Thomas S. Mullaney).

    Built on a bespoke spatial analysis platform, each essay takes on a different aspect of burial practices in China over the past two centuries. Rounding off the historical analyses, platform creator David McClure speaks to new reading methodologies emerging from a format in which text and map move in lockstep to advance the argument.

    Location

    China

2018-19 Courses


Stanford Advisees


  • Doctoral Dissertation Reader (AC)
    Anubha Anushree
  • Orals Evaluator
    Anubha Anushree, Stephan Risi
  • Doctoral Dissertation Advisor (AC)
    Andrew Elmore
  • Doctoral (Program)
    Riley Brett-Roche, Michelle Chang, Andrew Elmore

All Publications


  • QWERTY in China Chinese Computing and the Radical Alphabet TECHNOLOGY AND CULTURE Mullaney, T. S. 2018; 59 (4): S34–S65

    Abstract

    Since the late 1980s, computers throughout the Sinophone world have featured QWERTY keyboards, employing input techniques that rely upon the Latin alphabet. In this article, I argue that historians of modern China and modern information technology alike have profoundly misunderstood China's QWERTY keyboard and oversimplified the history of China's engagement with the Latin alphabet during the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries. Scholars have been too quick to fixate on the narrower issue of phoneticization: that is, of attempts to re-inscribe Chinese by creating Latin alphabet-based writing systems that rewire the circuitry of Chinese linguistic signification with the goal of bypassing (and ultimately abolishing) Chinese characters altogether. The historical record alerts us to a much broader history of "Chinese alphabets," however. Based upon three cases, this article explores some of the many schemes in which the goal was to alphabetize Chinese, while also leaving character-based Chinese writing intact.

    View details for DOI 10.1353/tech.2018.0149

    View details for Web of Science ID 000461945600003

    View details for PubMedID 30595596

  • The Moveable Typewriter How Chinese Typists Developed Predictive Text during the Height of Maoism TECHNOLOGY AND CULTURE Mullaney, T. S. 2012; 53 (4): 777-814
  • Shift CTRL Computing and New Media as Global, Cultural, Sociopolitical, and Ecological TECHNOLOGY AND CULTURE Mullaney, T. S. 2018; 59 (4): S1–S6

    View details for DOI 10.1353/tech.2018.0147

    View details for Web of Science ID 000461945600001

    View details for PubMedID 30595594

  • Quote Unquote Language Reform: New-Style Punctuation and the Horizontalization of Chinese MODERN CHINESE LITERATURE AND CULTURE Mullaney, T. S. 2017; 29 (2): 206–50
  • Controlling the Kanjisphere: The Rise of the Sino-Japanese Typewriter and the Birth of CJK JOURNAL OF ASIAN STUDIES Mullaney, T. S. 2016; 75 (3): 725-753
  • Critical Han Studies: The History, Representation and Identity of China's Majority edited by Mullaney, T. S., Leibold, J., Gros, S., Bussche, E. V. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2012
  • Critical Han Studies: Introduction and Prolegomenon In Critical Han Studies: The History. Representation and Identity of China's Majority Mullaney, T. S. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2012
  • Coming to Terms with the Nation: Ethnic Classification in Modern China Anderson, B. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2011
  • Dissertation Reviews: An Introduction China Heritage Quarterly Mullaney, T. S. 2011
  • The People's Republic of Predictive Text: How Chinese Typists in the Communist Period Anticipated the Computer Age Association for Asian Studies Annual Meeting Mullaney, T. S. 2011
  • Ten Characters per Minute': The Discourse of the Chinese Typewriter and the Persistence of Orientalist Thought Association for Asian Studies Annual Meeting Mullaney, T. S. 2010
  • Seeing for the State: The Role of Social Scientists in China's Ethnic Classification Project Asian Ethnicity Mullaney, T. S. 2010; 11 (3): 325-342
  • The People's Peking Man Journal of Asian Studies Schmalzer, S. 2010; 69 (2)
  • The Final Rite of Passage: Submitting and Defending the Dissertation From Concept to Completion: A Dissertation-Writing Guide for History Students Mullaney, T. S. American Historical Association. 2009
  • Introducing Critical Han Studies China Heritage Quarterly Mullaney, T. S. 2009
  • State and Ethnicity in China's Southwest China Information Guo, X. 2009; 23 (2)
  • The Typing Rebellion: Toward a Global History of the Chinese Typewriter History of Science Society, 2009 Annual Meeting Mullaney, T. S. 2009
  • Han, Non-Han, and Non: Notions of Majority, Minority, and Miscellany in the Study of Southwestern China Critical Han Studies Conference and Workshop Mullaney, T. S. 2008
  • One Time Fits All: The Campaigns for Global Uniformity Science Magazine Bartky, I. R. 2008
  • A Cultural History of Modern Science in China Science Magazine Elman, B. A. 2007
  • On Their Own Terms: Science in China, 1550-1900 Eighteenth Century Studies Elman, B. A. 2007; 40 (3)
  • 55 + 1 = 1, or, the Strange Calculus of Chinese Nationhood China Information Mullaney, T. S. 2004; 18 (2): 197-205
  • Ethnic Classification Writ Large: The 1954 Yunnan Province Ethnic Classification Project and its Foundations in Republican-Era Taxonomic Thought China Information Mullaney, T. S. 2004; 18 (2): 207-241
  • Social Engineering and the Social Sciences in China, 1919-1949 China Information Chiang, Y. 2002; 16 (1)
  • Same Bed, Different Dreams: Managing U.S.-China Relations, 1989-2000 Stanford Magazine Lampton, D. M. 2002