Thomas Mullaney

Professor of History
Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures, by Courtesy
Director of Honors & Research
Ph.D., Columbia University, History (2006)
M.A., Johns Hopkins University, Humanities (2000)
B.A., Johns Hopkins University, International Studies & East Asian Studies (1999)

Thomas S. Mullaney is Professor of History and Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures, by courtesy. He is also the Kluge Chair in Technology and Society at the Library of Congress, and a Guggenheim Fellow. 

He is the author or lead editor of 7 books, including The Chinese Typewriter (winner of the Fairbank prize), Your Computer is on FireComing to Terms with the Nation: Ethnic Classification in Modern China, and the forthcoming The Chinese Computer—the first comprehensive history of Chinese-language computing. 

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.


Cultural History
Global, Transnational, and International History
Immigration, Borderlands, and Frontiers
Intellectual History
Race and Ethnicity
Science and Technology
Social History
Spatial History and Historical Geography

Curated Exhibitions

Radical Machines: Chinese in the Information Age 

  • Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) (New York City)
  • San Diego Chinese Historical Museum
  • San Francisco International Airport
  • Stanford University

Facing the World: Type Design in Global Perspective

Recent & Forthcoming Publications

The Chinese Typewriter: A History (MIT Press, 2017 | Available Here)

Quote Unquote Language Reform: Punctuation Reform and the Horizontalization of Chinese” Modern Chinese Literature and Culture 29, no.2  (Fall 2017): 206-250.

Controlling the Kanjisphere: The Rise of the Sino-Japanese Typewriter and the Birth of CJKJournal of Asian Studies (August 2016).

Recent & Upcoming Talks

“The New Chinese Exclusion: Chinese Computing in the Age of Alphanumeric Hegemony” (Rutgers University, March 30, 2017)

“A War Between the Living and the Dead: On Grave Relocation in Contemporary China.” (University of Pennsylvania, March 27, 2017)

Keynote Address. SIGCIS Conference (Computer History Museum, March 18, 2017)

“Chinese Computing and the Future of I.T.” (San Diego Chinese Historical Museum, February 25, 2017)

“Machine Learning: An Historian’s Guide to Reading Keyboards, Code, and other Technological Objects.” (UCSD, February 24, 2017)

“Ecologies of Chinese Computing: A Guided Tour through Recent History.” (Carnegie Mellon University, February 7, 2017)

“Hot Metal Empire: Type Design, Media, and Empire in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.” (University of Pittsburgh, February 6, 2017)

Opening Lecture for “Radical Machines: Chinese in the Information Age” (San Diego Chinese Historical Museum, January 21, 2017)

“Design.” (Information and the Humanities Conference, Pennsylvania State University, October 29, 2016)

“Digital Humanities for Skeptics: A Report from the DHAsia Program at Stanford University.” (Columbia University, October 25, 2016)

“The Font that Never Was: Linotype, Monotype, and the “Phonetic Chinese Alphabet” of 1921.” ATypI Annual Conference, Warsaw, Poland, September 16, 2016)

“How to Spy on 600 Million People.” (Computer History Museum, July 7, 2016)

Recent Awards

John K. Fairbank Prize

Guggenheim Fellowship

Andrew W. Mellon New Directions Fellowship

Andrew W. Mellon Sawyer Seminar (for DHAsia)

Stanford VPTL Major Grant in support of "Massively Multiplayer Humanities" 2017 Project

Recipient of the 3-Year National Science Foundation Science, Technology and Society Award

Winner of the 2013 Abbot Payson Usher Prize

Recipient of 2011 American Historical Association Pacific Branch Award for “Best First Book on Any Historical Subject”