Teaching Fellow in the Social Sciences (2019–21)
PhD'19 (U.S. history) University of Chicago

Mailing Address

The University of Chicago
Department of History
1126 E. 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637

Social Science Research Building, room 530 – Office


Research Interests

Long-nineteenth-century United States and Pacific World; Hawai’i, the American West, and Australia; public health, medicine, and technology; mobility, commerce, and urbanization; race, indigeneity, and migration; empire and colonization; visual and material culture.


The Sanitary Sieve: Public Health, Infectious Diseases, and the Urbanization of Honolulu, c. 1850-1914


I am a scholar of public health, urbanization, and race in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century United States and Pacific World. During the 2020-21 academic year, I will be a Postdoctoral Social Sciences Teaching Fellow in the Department of History and the College.

My current book project, The Sanitary Sieve: Public Health, Mobility, and the Making of the Urban Pacific World, 1850–1920 examines how public health officials harnessed the police powers of the state to transform Honolulu from a passive harbor into a disease–screening checkpoint for Hawai‘i, the Pacific, and America’s overseas empire. Nineteenth-century steamships fully integrated Hawai‘i into a thriving Pacific World, rendering Honolulu a catalyst for the spread of infectious diseases. While disproportionately affecting nonwhite urbanites, these epidemic connections also threatened transpacific commerce and America’s growing imperial influence. I argue that Honolulu assumed a unique responsibility as a “sanitary sieve”—an urban clearinghouse that could filter out diseases traversing the Pacific. Engineering this municipal strategy were public health officials who policed the mobility of nonwhite communities, pitted vaccination programs against quarantine laws, and reconfigured the seaport’s built and natural environments. Those contesting the limits of state power through legal proceedings and quotidian forms of resistance largely failed. The expansion of government authority across Honolulu ushered in an illiberal cohort of public health officials and a well-regulated yet fundamentally repressed urban population. By the end of the nineteenth-century, this municipal strategy in statecraft had primed Hawai‘i for U.S. annexation and facilitated American ascendancy in the Pacific.


“Brothel of the Pacific”: Syphilis and the Urban Regulation of Liking Wahine in Honolulu, 1855-75,” The Journal of Pacific History 55, no. 1 (2020): 18-36. 

Review of Tiffany Lani Ing’s Reclaiming Kalākaua: Nineteenth-Century Perspectives on a Hawaiian Sovereign (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2019), The Journal of Pacific History (2020)    


Selected Media and Interviews

—Panel Discussion, University of Chicago: Yuen e-Lecture Series, One Hundred Year Lives in Asia, "Social Distancing—An Historical Perspective," June 3, 2020
—Invited Lecture, University of Chicago: Center for Health Administration Studies Michael Davis e-Lecture Series, “Quarantine and Economic Uncertainty: Historic Lessons from a Mid-Pacific Seaport,” May 6, 2020
—Interview with WGN Radio 720’s Anna Davlantes, “Reopening Chicago after the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918,” April 21, 2020
—Interview with Block Club Chicago’s Kelly Bauer, “How Can Chicago Reopen After Coronavirus? Here’s How We Did It After 1918’s Spanish Flu,” April 15, 2020
—Interview with UChicago News’s Jack Wang, “Why quarantines are so difficult to implement: Lessons from the 1800s,” March 24, 2020.