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Asia Program

Asian Studies Faculty

In addition to professional training, our faculty members have benefited from extensive travel, research, and teaching abroad. We are known across campus as a program committed to quality undergraduate education, and a number of our faculty have won major teaching awards. Students find that the Asia Program is staffed with stimulating and helpful instructors.

W. Puck BrecherW. Puck Brecher

Ph.D., University of Southern California, 2005
Associate Professor of History
Office: Wilson-Short Hall 309
Phone: 509-335-3267

Dr. Brecher specializes in early modern and modern Japanese social and cultural history. His past research projects have focused on early modern Japanese thought, aesthetics, and urban history, modern race relations, as well as contemporary environmental issues. His latest book is Honored and Dishonored Guests: Westerners in Wartime Japan (Harvard University Asia Center, 2017). Currently he is working on projects pertaining to conceptualizations of leisure during Japan’s Meiji era.

Weiguo CaoWeiguo Cao

Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Madison, 2016
Clinical Associate Professor of Chinese
Office: Thompson Hall 101E
Phone: 509-335-6626

Dr. Cao teaches classes on Chinese language and culture. His research interests include early Chinese narrative and historical works, the development of Chinese fictional writings, Sun Zi’s Art of War, and the translation of ancient Chinese texts. He is part of the group project translating Sima Qian’s Shiji (The Grand Scribe’s Records—also known as Records of Grand Historian). His publications include: annotated translation of “The Basic Annals of Emperor Wen, the Filial,” in The Grand Scribe’s Records, vol.2, William Nienhauser, Jr., ed. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002), pp. 145–193; annotated translation of “Hereditary House of Ch’u,” and “Hereditary House of Lu” in The Grand Scribe’s Records, The Hereditary Houses of Pre-Han China, William Nienhauser, Jr., ed. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006); and annotated translation of “The Tale of Hongxian,” in Tang Dynasty Tales: A Guided Reader, William H Nienhauser, Jr., ed. (Singapore: World Scientific, 2010), pp. 1–47.

Julia CassanitiJulia Cassaniti

Ph.D., University of Chicago, 2009
Assistant Professor of Medical and Psychological Anthropology
Office: College Hall 217
Phone: 509-335-8224

Julia Cassaniti is a cultural anthropologist working on religious experience, culture, and psychological subjectivity in Southeast Asia. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and has served as a lecturer at UCSD, a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University, a scholar-in-residence at Chiang Mai University’s Department of Religion and Philosophy, and most recently a visiting fellow at Cornell University’s Southeast Asia Program. With a focus on Buddhism in practice, Dr. Cassaniti is interested in the ways that religious ideas are interwoven into the psychology of everyday life in Southeast Asia and around the world. She has been conducting ethnographic research for the past 13 years in a rural Northern Thai community, focusing on a range of phenomena that speak to local connections between religion and subjectivity, and their implications in the wider world of health and well-being. Her book Living Buddhism: Mind, Self, and Emotion in a Thai Community (Cornell University Press, 2015) offers an ethnographic account of personal engagements with impermanence and karma, suggesting new ways to think about their implications in everyday Thai experience. Recent articles include those on the subversive potential of ‘boring’ Thai Buddhist sermons (Contemporary Buddhism, 2015), variation in Thai religious phenomenology (Current Anthropology, 2014), and moral affect (Anthropological Theory, 2014), along with a case study about schizophrenia and culture in Thailand (Our Most Troubling Madness, 2016). She is currently writing a new book on mindfulness in Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Burma, to be published by Cornell University Press in 2017.

Roger ChanRoger Chan

Ph.D. Candidate, University of Washington
Instructor of History and General Education
Office: Wilson-Short Hall 318
Phone: 509-335-1258

Mr. Chan’s teaching and research interests are centered on late Imperial China, modern China, modern Japan, and Western legal history. In addition to courses in Asian studies, Chan teaches world civilizations in the General Education Program.

Lydia GerberLydia Gerber

Ph.D., Hamburg University, 1998
Clinical Associate Professor, Honors College
Phone: 509-335-7425

Gerber teaches classes on Chinese history for the Department of History and the WSU Honors College and coordinates our spring Asia 301 (East Meets West) Symposium. She also teaches a class on “The Practice, Science, Practice, and History of Mindfulness” for the WSU Honors College. Her research interests include late Qing China, cross-cultural studies, Protestant missions in China, and Sino-German relations, in particular the life and work of the German missionary and sinologist Richard Wilhelm. Her most recent published articles are:

  • “Testing the Limits of Proper Behavior: Women Students in and beyond the Weimar Mission Schools in Qingdao 1905–1914” in Anthony E. Clark (ed.): China’s Christianity: From Missionary to Indigenous Church. Leiden: Brill 2017, 141–174.
  • “From Submission to Subversion? The Aidaoyuan Boarding School for Chinese Girls in Qingdao 1904–1914” in Joanne Miyang Cho and Douglas T. McGetchin (eds.): Gendered Encounters between Germany and Asia: Transnational Perspectives, 1800–2000. New York: Palgrave McMillan 2017, 111–132.

Shawna HerzogShawna Herzog

Ph.D., Washington State University, 2013
Instructor of History
Office: Wilson-Short Hall 314

Dr. Herzog received her Ph.D. in world history at Washington State University in July 2013 with an emphasis on the fields of world history, imperialism, modern Britain, and gender. Subsequent research and teaching have augmented these to incorporate the region of Southeast Asia, globalization, licit and illicit trading networks, slavery in the Indian Ocean, sexuality, and vice in the nineteenth century. Her current monograph project examines the struggles British East India Company officials experienced as they attempted to implement anti-slavery legislation in the company’s eastern territories.

Since 2013, Dr. Herzog has continued to research and write in her field. In addition to presenting at a variety of both national and international conferences, she contributed a chapter covering Singapore’s role as a center in Asian markets for a forthcoming anthology of global prostitution from 1600 to the present, Sex Sold in World Cities, 1600–2000s. Her review of Religion and Trade, an anthology about the influence of religion on trade in world history between 1000 and 1900, for the Journal of Religious Studies, will appear in their spring 2017 issue. More recently, she presented a paper looking at intra imperial cooperation within Southeast Asia at the 2016 World History Association’s annual conference in Ghent, Belgium.

Noriko KawamuraNoriko Kawamura

Ph.D., University of Washington, 1989
Associate Professor of History
Office: Wilson-Short Hall 350
Phone: 509-335-5428

Kawamura’s research focuses on the history of war, peace, and diplomacy in the Pacific world. She teaches the history of U.S. foreign relations, U.S.–East Asian relations, U.S. military history, and modern Japanese history. Kawamura is the author of Emperor Hirohito and the Pacific War (University of Washington Press, 2015) and Turbulence in the Pacific: Japanese–US Relations during World War I (Praeger, 2000). She also coedited Building New Pathways to Peace (University of Washington Press, 2011) and Toward a Peaceable Future: Redefining Peace, Security, and Kyosei from a Multidisciplinary Perspective (The Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service, Washington State University Press, 2005). She has contributed several journal articles and book chapters, including “To Transnationalize War Memory for Peace and Kyosei” in Building New Pathways to Peace; “Emperor Hirohito and Japan’s Decision to Go to War with the United States,” Diplomatic History (January 2007); and “Wilsonian Idealism and Japanese Claims at the Paris Peace Conference,” Pacific Historical Review (November 1997), which is reprinted in Arthur P. Dudden, ed., American Empire in the Pacific: From Trade to Strategic Balance, 1700–1922 (Ashgate, 2004). Kawamura is currently working on a new book project on Emperor Hirohito’s Cold War. She is also the president of Asian Studies on the Pacific Coast (ASPAC).

Xinmin LiuXinmin Liu

Ph.D., Yale University, 1997
Associate Professor of Chinese and Comparative Literatures
Office: Thompson Hall 110
Phone: 509-335-8317

Xinmin Liu is associate professor of Chinese and comparative cultures at Washington State University. He received his Ph.D. in comparative literature at Yale in 1997 and is currently teaching Chinese culture, film, and language in the Department of Foreign Languages and Cultures at WSU. His teaching and research are chiefly cross-cultural and interdisciplinary, dealing with society, culture, and social thought as well as humanity vs. nonhumans. His first book, Signposts of Self-Realization: Evolution, Sociality, and Ethics in Chinese Literary Modernism, was published by Brill, Netherlands in March 2014. Since 2005, he has intensely engaged in research on cultural geography, nature writing, and ecocriticism in China and the West. Currently he is completing two book projects. He is finishing a single-author book entitled Agential Landscapes, Interloping Humans: Aspects of China’s Ecocriticism, which focuses on the aesthetic, ontological, and ethical issues underlying the cluster of land-landscape-living habitats in China. He is also working on a volume of ecocritical writings named Interlaced Agencies and Material Ecocriticism in China: Re-enchanting Tian ren he yi, which he co-edits with Xin Ning (Ph.D., Rutgers).

Ling MaLing Ma

Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo, 2016
Visiting Scholar

Dr. Ma specializes in twentieth-century Chinese social and cultural history. Her Ph.D. dissertation, titled “Gender, Law, and Society: Abortion in Early-Twentieth-Century China,” examines the connections among medicine, gender discourses, and legal-judicial practices in late Qing and Republican China through a history of abortion lawmaking, law enforcement, and lawbreaking. She is currently working on expanding her project to the post-1949 socialist and reform eras. Dr. Ma has taught survey courses on early modern and modern Asia, as well as special topics on Asian cinema and twentieth-century Chinese politics.

Michael MyersMichael Myers

Ph.D., University of Hawaii, 1990
Acting Director of the Asia Program (2011–2012)
Professor of Philosophy
Office: Johnson Tower 823
Phone: 509-335-8036

Myers teaches Asian philosophies and religions and philosophy of religion. He is coordinator of the religious studies program at WSU. His revised dissertation appears under the title Let the Cow Wander: Modeling the Metaphors in Veda and Vedanta (University of Hawaii Press, 1995), and he has also published Brahman: A Comparative Theology (Curzon, 2000). Myers’ current research examines problems of religious pluralism. He published “The Possibility of Religious Pluralism” in Oxford’s Forum on Public Policy in 2008 and is presently working on a book concerning space and place in Israel/Palestine.

Kayo NiimiKayo Niimi

M.A., Ohio State University
Instructor of Japanese
Office: Thompson Hall 101D
Phone: 509-335-6625

Before joining Washington State University, Ms. Niimi taught at various institutions including Washington University in St. Louis and University of Minnesota. Her research interests include Japanese language pedagogy and first/second language acquisition.

Manal ShaheenManal Shaheen

M.A., Washington State University
Instructor of Arabic
Office: Thompson Hall 17

Manal taught Arabic in Virginia at the Islamic Center, and she worked as a director at the nursery of University of Hail in Saudi Arabia and taught Arabic for non-native speakers’ children. Her background in apparel and design, she has published a book review of Islamic Fashion and Anti-fashion and presented a poster for her research on Muslim dress at the ITAA (International Textile and Apparel Association) conference.

Robert SnyderRobert Snyder

Ph.D., California Institute of Integral Studies
Instructor of Philosophy
Office: Johnson Tower 624
Phone: 509-335-5464

Professor Snyder’s areas of specialization include philosophy of religion and Chinese and Asian philosophy—Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. His teaching includes ethical theory, east-west studies, Islam, theology, spirituality, and hermeneutics.

Raymond SunRaymond Sun

Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, 1991
Associate Professor of History
Office: Wilson-Short Hall 339
Phone: 509-335-4622

Sun teaches modern European history, the history of Germany, and World War II in Asia and the Pacific. His recent publications include Before the Enemy Is within Our Walls: A Social, Cultural, and Political History of Catholic Workers in Cologne, 1885–1912 (Brill 1999), “Catholic-Marxist Competition in the Working-Class Parishes of Cologne during the Weimar Republic” (Catholic Historical Review 83, No. 1 (January 1997):20-43), and “Arbeiter Priester und die ‘Roten’: Kulturelle Hegemonie im Katholischen Milieu, 1885–1933” in Thomas Mergel and Thomas Welskopp, eds., Geschichte zwischen Kultur und Gesellshaft: Beitrage zur Theoriedebatte (Munich: Beck Verlag, 1997).

Paul ThiersPaul Thiers

Ph.D., University of Oregon, 1999
Associate Professor of Political Science
Office: MMC 102S (WSU Vancouver)
Phone: 360-546-9466

Thiers teaches comparative and environmental policy in the program in public affairs at Washington State University’s Vancouver campus. His research focuses on political issues relating to globalization, international trade (especially food trade), and social and environmental justice, with a specific emphasis on rural China and a regional emphasis on the Pacific Rim. Recent research projects have focused on Chinese pesticide policy, China’s integration into international organic food markets, and China’s accession to the World Trade Organization. For Dr. Thiers, the defining questions of our time are how will globalization affect local institutions, people, and ecosystems, and how will these local institutions, people, and ecosystems respond to globalization?

Lipi Turner-RahmanLipi Turner-Rahman

Ph.D., Washington State University
Coordinator of the Wallis and Marilyn Kimble Northwest History Database
Instructor of History
Office: Terrell Library 120B
Phone: 509-335-4849

Dr. Turner-Rahman received her Ph.D. from Washington State University. Her teaching and research are interdisciplinary in nature and include the history of Islam, history and culture of South Asia, creation of orthodoxy and Qur’anic interpretation, feminist Islamic exegesis, Islam in America and transnational Islam and Bollywood.

David WangDavid Wang

Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1997
Professor and Program Head of Architecture
Office: Daggy Hall 314
Phone: 509-335-8642

Professor Wang teaches a graduate course in history and theory and an interdisciplinary ethics and practice course. He is coauthor of Architectural Research Methods (2002, second edition 2013, John Wiley & Sons, with Linda Groat) and has lectured on architectural research nationally as well as in China and Europe. He is also author of A Philosophy of Chinese Architecture Past, Present, Future (Routledge, 2017). He is currently under contract with Routledge for a book titled Architecture and Sacrament: A Critical Theory. Professor Wang has published on architectural theory and research methods in numerous journals. More details »

Xiuyu WangXiuyu Wang

Ph.D., Carnegie Mellon University, 2006
Associate Professor of History
Office: Multimedia Classroom Building 102U (WSU Vancouver Campus)
Phone: 360-546-9174

Dr. Wang is a historian of later imperial and modern China specializing in state–society relations at cultural and ecological borderlands, particularly the Sino-Tibetan frontier in southwestern China. He received his Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University in history and anthropology and has been conducting field and archival research in China for the past 10 years. Wang’s research interest focuses on frontier social change at the intersections of state policy, local power, ecological dynamics, and cultural exchange. His book, China’s Last Imperial Frontier: Late Qing Expansion in Sichuan’s Tibetan Borderlands (Lexington Books, 2011), analyzes how power structures of direct rule were introduced into Kham borderland between heartland China and central Tibet during the late Qing period. Article publications have looked into the discursive and institutional dimensions of Qing state expansion. His current project examines modern patterns of political and cultural relations in southwest China, as forces of nationalism, ethnicity, and economic development continually redefine the region’s place in the Chinese nation. Wang teaches Chinese, East Asian, and world history for the Department of History.

Charles WellerCharles Weller

Ph.D., Kazakh National University, 2006
Clinical Assistant Professor, History, Washington State University
Visiting Researcher, Georgetown University (ACMCU)
Office: Wilson-Short Hall 348
Phone: 509-335-4705

Charles received his Ph.D. from Al-Farabi Kazakh National University in Almaty, Kazakhstan, working in the Kazakh language. His life’s work includes over 20 years of focus upon Central Asia (in relation to Russia, the Middle East, the Islamic world, and the West), with eight total years of residence in the region engaging in research, teaching, and translation. He has a number of publications in both English and Kazakh. His latest articles include: “Religious-Cultural Revivalism as Historiographical Debate: Contending Claims in the Post-Soviet Kazakh Context” (Journal of Islamic Studies, Vol 25, No 2, May 2014: 138–177) and “Modern Reform and Independence Movements: Central Asian Muslims and Koreans in Comparative Historical Perspective, 1850–1940” (Journal of American – East Asian Relations, Vol 21, No 4, Dec 2014, 343–372). He was a visiting fellow at Yale University (2010–11) before becoming a full-time faculty member for the Roots of Contemporary Issues World History and WSU Asia Programs at Washington State University in 2011. He also serves as a (non-residential) visiting researcher at Georgetown University (Center for Muslim–Christian Understanding, ACMCU).

Ashley WrightAshley Wright

Ph.D, University of Cambridge, 2008
Assistant Professor of History
Office: Wilson-Short Hall 312
Phone: 509-335-4743

Main Office Address

Asia Program
Washington State University
Wilson-Short Hall 339
P.O. Box 644030
Pullman, WA 99164-4030

Phone: 509-335-4622

Academic Advisor

Lauri Sue Torkelson
Wilson-Short Hall 301C


Jordan Pike



Featured photo: Traditional boats parade down the Doha Corniche on Qatar National Day. Photo by Omar Chatriwala. Distributed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.