Committee on Environment, Geography and Urbanization

Division of Social Sciences, The University of Chicago

portrait of Neil Brenner
portrait of Neil Brenner

Yuting Dong

Assistant Professor of History and Committee on Environment, Geography and Urbanization (CEGU)

As a historian of modern Japan and East Asia, I am interested in questions on colonialism, history of labor and expertise, and environmental history. Currently, I am finishing a manuscript on Japan’s infrastructure empire, which explores how Japanese colonial officials obtained knowledge and honed their technological skills from interacting with various local intermediaries and laborers and how the former appropriated the latter’s knowledge to ground their imperial dominance in what historically referred to as Manchuria. By reading infrastructure as archives, this manuscript sheds light on those interactions that were often hidden in colonial archives.

I am also working on a second project that examines the commodification and politicization of air in Japan’s colonial empire.

Having graduated from Harvard University with a Ph.D. in May 2021, I was an Academy Scholar at Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies before joining the History Department in July 2022.

You can find my work here:

Flagstone empire: Materiality and technical expertise in Japanese road construction in northeast China (1905–1945).” Modern Asian Studies,

Red Brick Imperialism: How Vernacular Knowledge Shaped Japanese Colonial Expertise in Northeast China, 1905–45.” Technology and Culture,63(1), 2022.

Manchukuo voices: Re-interpreting a monumental space in Northeast China (1932–1945).” International Journal of Asian Studies,20(1), 2021.

I am also collaborating with other scholars to edit a volume on archival practices and the future of archives. It is published on the CLIR-Mellon Fellowships’ official website in May 2022.