I am a Research Fellow at Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, where I Supervise in World History, and the Executive Director of the Toynbee Prize Foundation. I was formerly a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University. My broad research interests center on global intellectual history and Southeast Asian environmental, cultural, and political history. My current research analyzes the co-constitution of class and relationships with the natural environment over the 19th to the 20th centuries in the Philippines.
I earned my Ph.D. with Distinction in Southeast Asian and International History at Yale University, with a major field in ‘Southeast Asian History 1800-Present’ and minor fields in ‘Empires and Imperialism’ and ‘Modern Japanese History.’ I additionally hold M.Phil and M.A. degrees from Yale University in Southeast Asian and International History and a B.A. with Honors in History from the University of Pennsylvania.
My first book, Asian Place, Filipino Nation: A Global Intellectual History of the Philippine Revolution, 1887-1912, published by Columbia University Press in June 2020, charts the emplotment of ‘place’ in the proto-national thought and revolutionary organizing of turn-of-the-twentieth-century Filipino thinkers. It analyzes how their Pan-Asian political organizing and their constructions of the place of ‘Asia’ and of the spatial registers of race/Malayness connected them to their regional neighbors undertaking the same work. Asian Place, Filipino Nation unearths precisely what ground the Philippine nation has built itself upon intellectually, excavating its neglected cosmopolitan and transnational Asian moorings in particular, in order to reconnect modern Philippine history to that of Southeast and East Asia, from which it has been historiographically separated.
The important global moment of the late nineteenth century—with all the changes in technology, sovereignty, human exchange, and ideology that it wrought—is too often apprehended in Asian historiography through a bilateral framework privileging relations with the West. In the Philippines from 1872-1912, one sees an early instance of the transition of power that would take place in the region—from the Old World, European imperial powers to the emerging, New World, American global power and the rise of Japan. Indeed, the turn of the twentieth century was a turning point for imperial and Southeast Asian history, with imperial subjugation and incorporation hardening empires and firing local resistance across the entire region. Yet, this transnational and regional historical setting has barely been incorporated into the locally- and Western-orientated historiography of the Philippine Revolution. What impact did the Revolution have in Southeast Asia, and what intellectual threads in the Philippine political discourses connected it to the corollary anti-imperial and positive political imaginings of its Asian neighbors?
Turn-of-the-twentieth-century Southeast Asian engagement with the Pan-Asian discourse emanating from Japan and China envisioned transnational, anti-colonial political possibilities. It advocated Asian solidarity under the aid of Japan against the encroachments of Western imperialism, internalizing a loose belief in a vague, evolutionary Social Darwinism. Asian Place, Filipino Nation interrogates this period’s Southeast Asian reformulation and practice of Pan-Asianism in the face of Western imperial consolidation and the rise of Japan, focusing on the Philippine case but with an eye to the contemporaneous Vietnamese one. It incorporates the “periphery” into our understanding of Pan-Asianism and presents Pan-Asianism as a network, practice, and translingual learning process—in addition to a discourse. In so doing, Asian Place, Filipino Nation aims to correct our exclusively intellectual historical and Northeast-Asia-centric understandings of Pan-Asianism. It shows that the revolutionary First Philippine Republic’s foreign collaboration represents the first instance of fellow Pan-Asianists lending material aid toward anti-colonial revolution against a Western power (rather than overthrow of a domestic dynasty) and harnessing transnational Pan-Asian networks of support, activism, and association toward doing so. This material dimension is crucial to understanding the Pan-Asianism of the colonized “periphery” and to incorporating the periphery into this history. So too is the affective dimension, in which fantasies, imagination, and a certain emotionality formed much of the periphery’s engagement with the model of Meiji-era Japan and Asian solidarity. Asian Place, Filipino Nation argues for the importance of both dimensions as lenses through which the Pan-Asianism of the periphery can be recognized and made legible to the workings of the “center.”
Outside my academic work, I wrote a monthly opinion column for The Manila Times from 2013-2016. I worked for the Office of the Chief Economist and SERG at the Philippines’s Department of Finance from 2016-2017, shepherding the Economic Development Cluster’s priority reforms, and co-founded PAMPUBLIKO, a political discussion lab that seeks to reorient mainstream Philippine discourse away from personality politics and toward substantive policy discussion. My personal political advocacy centers on the environment and sex work in the Philippines.