As an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, I had difficulty choosing between a major in history, or sociology. This is evidence of a fundamentally interdisciplinary inclination toward knowledge and understanding the world. Due to historical and personal circumstances, I found myself in the Caribbean after completing a master’s degree in England. Here I worked as an educational planner for the Ministry of Education of the newly independent Government of Jamaica.
I am an historian of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century United States, and I am especially interested in women’s and gender history, as well as the history of social movements. My dissertation research focused on a network of left-wing feminists in Progressive Era California that was unusual for its commitments to women’s economic independence and redistributive social policies.
In both teaching and research, I love to explore the juncture of history and literature. As art imitates life and life also imitates art, I believe history and literature can inform each other in numerous ways. This is particularly true with regard to China, where an amazingly exuberant literary tradition has for millennia molded the collective mentality and behavior of not only the intellectuals but also the semi-literate and even the illiterate populace. Furthermore, many Chinese historians double as essayists and storytellers.
I have recently returned to the academy after a career in law and management in the areas of telecommunications and internet services. While my focus is modern European history, I believe that European ideas, institutions and practices must be considered in a global context. My interests focus on legal and political activities and ideas as expressed in the system of states and empires and their shared culture. This encompasses such issues and topics as international law, sovereignty, revolution and how states and their economies/societies interact.
I am a historian of Africa whose interests include interdisciplinary methodologies, critical theory, and popular ways of thinking about the past. Most of my work revolves around issues surrounding gender and slavery in West Africa, although I have also published in the fields of world history, heritage studies in South Africa, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and modern imperialism and colonialism.
My research and teaching primarily deal with the history of the United States in the world. I am also very interested in the history of Southeast Asia, including, but not limited to, European and American involvement in the region. I approach the study of U.S. foreign relations broadly, and my work and courses integrate cultural, political, and social histories into more traditional explorations of high-level diplomacy. I am particularly interested in the role of non-state actors in advancing and carrying out American policies overseas.
I did not follow a direct academic path from college to the doctorate, but spent years working alternately as a baker, an electrician and a community advocate for the elderly poor. As the first American-born in a family of post-World War II French immigrants, I have always been a gatherer of stories. In graduate school and for years thereafter, my scholarly work focused primarily on labor militancy, political radicalism, and the intersection of ethnic, national and class identities. After leaving New York City for the San Francisco Bay Area, I offered courses in U.S.
My area is the history of world politics, mainly war and peace issues among the great states, which I approach as a kind of intellectual and social history necessarily connected to the revolutions of the last three centuries. The country I know best is Russia and a good deal of my published work has dealt with the Russian revolution and its impact on the world. I have devoted attention to its internal power struggles which I have approached as a Kremlinologist, but chiefly as a Kremlinologist of ideas.