I am a cultural historian of China, whose primary interests lie in recipes of all kinds: culinary and medical. I have published numerous articles on various aspects of Chinese medical, culinary, and cultural history in English and Chinese. I am also the author of The Politics of Mourning in Early China (2007) and, with the late Conrad Schirokauer, the co-author of A Brief History of Chinese Civilization (2012).
Most recently, I published The Art of Medicine in Early China: The Ancient and Medieval Origins of a Modern Archive (2015). In this book, I investigate the formation of the archive used by current scholars to tell the history of Chinese medicine. The Art of Medicine reveals how premodern forms of Chinese knowledge production were integrated into the current historiography. It calls upon modern scholars to break with the longstanding habit of treating non‑Western and particularly pre-modern traditions as mere “content providers” for contemporary theory.
Current research projects:
I am now writing a book on the history of dairy in China, a topic that has received scant attention by scholars. The first installment of this project, which examines the cheeses from the Shanghai region in the sixteenth century, appeared in Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies (2019). This project grows out of my previous work in the history of medicine, my general interest in recipes, and my longstanding fascination with the connections between foodways and environment. You can follow my efforts to recreate ancient dairy recipes on Twitter (@Dong_Muda), or read my public food history blog.
In addition, I’m working on a popular book that retells the story of Chinese food in America. This book brings together my experiences as a mix-raced American and Chinese historian to explore meaning of heritage. Pieces of this story have appeared in Atlas Obscura. You can read about the witty food puns baked into popular Lunar New Year foods and a revisionist account of chop suey.