Wayne Soon
Assistant Professor of History

Wayne Soon is a historian of modern China and East Asia, with a particular interest in how international ideas and practices of medicine, institutional building, and diaspora have shaped the region’s interaction with its people and the world in the twentieth century.

Contact Info

Campus Mail
Drawer 25



216 Landrum Bolling Center


  • History
  • Japanese Studies
  • Chinese Studies
  • East Asian Studies


  • Ph.D. Princeton University
  • B.A. Carleton College

Selected Courses:

HIST 265 – Modern China

This course examines the history of China’s recent past from the seventeenth century to the present. Themes covered in this course include political changes, social realities, intellectuals and the state, foreign diplomacy, material culture, gender relations, economic development, revolutions and rebellions, religion and society, as well as the role of film and literature in history. Students will analyze such themes through the myriad voices of political leaders, activists, intellectuals, students, workers, filmmakers, and poets. Students will relate the variety of primary sources with the interpretations offered by various secondary sources. Therefore, students are expected to develop skills to analyze key historical moments against broader historiographical contexts.

HIST 218 – World War II in East Asia

The Second World War was transformative for Japan and China. At its height of conquest, the Japanese Empire ruled over more than 130 million people. Japan’s military, economy, and territories grew tremendously even as it struggled to deal with wartime controversies. China became one of the Big Four Allied Powers as state building and resistance persisted in unoccupied areas. This course will explore the key question of how the Second World War shaped the everyday lives of Chinese, Japanese, and foreigners in East Asia and the world. In addition, students will explore the reasons for and the nature of major events in the war – including the Nanjing massacre, the Chinese resistance to and collaboration with the Japanese, Japan’s wartime mobilization, the role of science and technology in war-making, the gendered and racial underpinnings of wartime labor, the rise of the Chinese Communist Party, and the U.S. government’s decision to release atomic bombs in Japan.


My research focuses on the history of western medicine in China, through the examination of new medical institutions created by the Overseas Chinese doctors, nurses, and technicians in China and Taiwan from the 1910s to 1970s. These personnel include individuals such as Robert Lim, Wu Lien-teh, Lim Boon Keng, O.K. Khaw, and Adet Lin. I seek to understand how these medical personnel propagated and configured new knowledge of scientific research and military medicine through the creation of Emergency Medical Services Training Schools, blood banks, research laboratories in medical colleges, and mobile Red Cross units with the assistance of the Rockefeller Foundation, American Bureau for Medical Aid to China, and the British government. The international nature of these institutions provided understated legacies for medical care and scientific research in post-war China and Taiwan.

My research has received external support from the Rockefeller Archive Center, the Taiwan Fellowship from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of China, and the Lee Kong Chian Fellowship from the National Library of Singapore.


“Science, Medicine, and Confucianism in the Making of China and Southeast Asia – Lim Boon Keng and the Overseas Chinese, 1897 to 1937,” Twentieth-Century China 39, no. 1 (2014): 24-43. Link to Article.

Book Review of Megan Greene, The Origins of the Developmental State in Taiwan: Science Policy and the Quest for Modernization (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008), East Asian Science, Technology, and Society: An International Journal 8 no.1 (March 2014): 155-157. Link to Review.

Book Review of Michael Barr and Ziatko Skbris, Constructing Singapore: Elitism, Ethnicity and the Nation-Building Project (Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, 2008), Asian Studies Review 35 (June 2011): 285-287. Link to Review.

Association for Asian Studies

American Historical Association

American Association for the History of Medicine

Society for the History of Technology

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