Skip to content Skip to navigation

Alastair Su

Headshot of Alastair Su

Alastair Su

United States
B.A., Harvard University, 2014

Dissertation Topic: Capitalism and Opium: The Transpacific Drug Economy, 1815-1882

Alastair is a PhD candidate at Stanford's Department of History. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard College in 2014, and spent a year as a Research Associate at Harvard Business School before starting his PhD. He specializes in the historical evolution of the U.S. political economy, with a thematic focus on the topics of slavery and abolition, US imperialism, drug addiction, Chinese migration and the Pacific world. 

Alastair's current project, "Capitalism and Opium: The Transpacific Drug Economy, 1815-1882," tells the story of when Americans first sold opium in China to when the Chinese first sold opium in America. By exploring the drug's dual function as an addictive commodity and a source of international capital, his dissertation offers a new interpretation of the Opium War as a watershed event that had surprising connections to and consequences for Americans and the Pacific world. For his research, Alastair has won numerous awards, including the K. Austin Kerr Prize from the Business History Conference, the John Higham Research Fellowship from the Organization of American Historians, the John E. Rovensky Fellowship from the University of Illinois Foundation, and a Dissertation Completion Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.