Stanford University
Our Team
Current Researchers
Joel Beinin

Joel Beinin is the Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History and Professor of Middle East History at Stanford University. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1982, his M.A. from Harvard in 1974, and his B.A. from Princeton in 1970. From 2006 to 2008 he served as Director of Middle East Studies and Professor of History at the American University in Cairo. In 2002 he served as president of the Middle East Studies Association of North America. Beinin’s research and writing focus on the social and cultural history and political economy of the modern Middle East and North Africa, primarily Egypt, Israel/Palestine, and Tunisia. He has written or edited eleven books. The latest is Workers and Thieves: Labor Movements and Popular Uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt (Stanford University Press, 2015). 

Cecil Brown
Cecil Brown’s undergraduate education was at Columbia University in Comparative Lit (German and French). He has a M.A in English Literature from the University of Chicago; and a PhD in Folklore, African American Literature, and Narrative Theory from UC Berkeley. He is a novelist and folklorist. He directed the first hip-hop conference in 2002 at U C Berkeley. He co-produced the first conference on the cell phone (“Cell Phone Justice”) and “Swinging and Flowing the Digital Divide” both sponsored by CITRIS (the Center for Information Technology Research for in The Interest of Society).
Ian Caine

Ian Caine is an Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Texas at San Antonio. His design, research, and teaching explore the form, processes, and impacts of urban sprawl. His work with the Spatial History Project involves the creation of an interactive chronology that examines the suburban expansion of San Antonio, Texas.

Caine’s urban designs have received recognition in multiple international competitions including the Dry Futures competition in California, the Build-a-Better-Burb competition in New York, and Rising Tides competition in San Francisco. At the architectural scale, he has designed and contributed to multiple AIA-award winning projects. His designs and writing have been featured in numerous publications including Log, Metropolis P/O/V, The Architect’s Newspaper, Arqa, Competitions, and Terrain, and received additional coverage in popular press outlets such as The Discovery Channel, Texas Public Radio,, and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Caine holds a SMArchS degree in Architecture and Urbanism from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also earned a B.A. in Political Science and M.Arch from Washington University.

Constanza Castro
Assistant Professor, Department of History, Universidad de los Andes

Constanza Castro is a professor in the Department of History and Geography at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. She earned her Ph.D in History from Columbia University and has a Master’s Degree in Latin American Studies from Stanford University. She is a historian of Latin America and Colombia in the 19th century. Her research interests revolve around the social history of law and economics, the global circulation of economic ideas, and the history of capitalism and the urban experience. She also works on problems that analyze the spatial dimension of economic processes, in particular the market economy and capitalism in the 19th century. She is currently writing a book entitled: “As a Citizen of this City: Property, Citizenship and Economic Liberalism, Bogotá: 1848-1880”.

Giovanna Ceserani
Director, Travelers on the Grand Tour Project

Giovanna Ceserani, Associate Professor of Classics at Stanford, works on the intellectual history of Classics in the modern age. The Grand Tour Project emerged from her research on eighteenth-century travel to classical lands, on the history of archaeology, and on the place of both the classical ideal and classical remains in the culture and politics of the time. The mining of digital technologies to address historical questions, and the transforming of these results into historiographical argument and narrative continues to be a most rewarding aspect of this project for her. See more about her research and publications at

Gordon Chang
Co-Director, Chinese Railroad Workers Project
Gordon Chang is Professor of History, Olive H. Palmer Professor in Humanities; Director, Center for East Asian Studies, Stanford University. His research focuses on the history of America-East Asia relations and on Asian American history.  He is affiliated with the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, the American Studies Program, International Relations Program, and the Center for East Asian Studies.  He is particularly interested in the historical connections between race and ethnicity in America and foreign relations, and explores these interconnections in his teaching and scholarship.  He is a recipient of both Guggenheim and ACLS fellowships, and has been a three-time fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center.
Zachary Dorner
Zachary Dorner teaches courses on capitalism, empire, and medicine in the Department of History at Stanford. His research concerns the medicine trade in the early modern period and its relationship to evolving forms of colonization, finance, and science. His work has appeared in The William and Mary Quarterly. A book manuscript in progress explores the markets for medicines that arose across the British empire in the long eighteenth century and their relationships to the impersonal credit economy, fiscal-military state, and system of plantation slavery. Future projects include a comparative history of the uses of metal and wood throughout the Anglo-American world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Shelley_Fisher Fishkin
Shelley Fisher Fishkin
Co-Director, Chinese Railroad Workers Project
Shelley Fisher Fishkin is Joseph S. Atha Professor of Humanities, Professor of English, and Director of American Studies, Stanford University. She has taught at Stanford since 2003. She is the author, editor, or co-editor of over forty books, and has published over one hundred articles, essays and reviews, many of which have focused on issues of race and racism in America, and on recovering previously silenced voices from the past.  Her books have won two “Outstanding Academic Title” awards from Choice, an award from the the National Journalism Scholarship Society, and “Outstanding Reference Work” awards from Library Journal and the New York Public Library.   She holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale. Before coming to Stanford, she was chair of the American Studies Department at the University of Texas at Austin.
Zephyr Frank
Director, Spatial History Project

Zephyr Frank is Professor of History and the Director of the Program on Urban Studies.  He is also the founding Director of the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA).  His research interests focus on Brazilian social and cultural history, the study of wealth and inequality, and the digital humanities.

Frederico Freitas
Frederico Freitas is a Ph.D. candidate in Latin American History studying the environmental and spatial history of the Southern Cone in the twentieth century. His research focuses on two bordering national parks in Argentina and Brazil. Frederico’s goal is to contrast the divergent histories of environmental and social change at each side of the border. Besides being a historian, Frederico also has over a decade of experience in art direction for print media and motion graphics, which now inspires him to explore new forms of historical narratives through visual media.
Deborah Gordon
Deborah Gordon is a Professor in the Department of Biology at Stanford. Her research on the collective organization of ant colonies includes studies of the long-term demography and behavior of harvester ant colonies in Arizona; the factors that determine the spread of the invasive Argentine and in northern California; and the ecology of arboreal ants and ant-plant mutualisms in tropical forests in Central America. She is author of two books, Ants at Work (2000) and Ant Encounters:Interaction Networks and Colony Behavior (2010). She has been awarded the Gores Teaching Award from Stanford and fellowships from Guggenheim and the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences.
Antonis Hadjikyriacou
Lead Researcher

Antonis Hadjikyriacou is Affiliated Scholar at CESTA. He earned his Ph.D. in History from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, and he has held research and teaching positions at Princeton University, SOAS, the University of Crete, and the University of Cyprus. Between 2014 and 2016 he was Marie Curie Intra-European fellow at the Institute for Mediterranean Studies, Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas in Rethymno, Greece. In 2016 he was appointed as Assistant Professor of Early Modern Ottoman and Mediterranean History at Βοgazici University in Istanbul, a position from which he resigned in 2019 on account of the impact of the current political climate on Turkish academia.

Ηe is completing a monograph entitled "Insularity and Empire: Ottoman Cyprus in the Early Modern Mediterranean". He is editor of Islands of the Ottoman Empire (Princeton, 2018) and has worked on a number of spatial history projects employing digital humanities methods. His research interests include: social and economic history, Historical Geographic Information Systems (HGIS), spatial history, environmental history, the Mediterranean world, and the transition to modernity.

Ben Hein
Lead Researcher
Benjamin P. Hein is completing a PhD in modern European and gobal history at Stanford. He is interested in the histories of transatlantic migration, industrialization, and the political economy of modern capitalism. Benjamin has worked at CESTA since spring 2015 as the principal investigator of the “Geographies of Capital” project. Using historical records of European banks, this project traces the geographical evolution of the region’s sprawling network of stock exchanges during the peak period of industrialization, 1860-1914. Before coming to Stanford, Benjamin studied history and economics at Emory University where he wrote a thesis exploring identity politics among German and Polish coal miners in Germany's Ruhr Valley.
Anna Holian
Holocaust Geographies Collaborative
Anna Holian is Associate Professor of Modern European History at Arizona State University. She received her PhD in Modern European History from the University of Chicago in 2005. Her work with the Holocaust Geographies research project focuses on Italy. She is engaged in two book projects on the theme of the cultural and social reconstruction of Europe after the Second World War. “Somewhere in Europe: Children and the Legacy of National Socialism in Postwar Film” explores how postwar European filmmakers addressed one of the critical issues of the day, “war children.” The second project, “Jewish Space in Postwar Germany,” employs spatial history as a new window onto the reconstruction of Jewish life in early postwar Germany. She is the author of Between National Socialism and Soviet Communism: Displaced Persons in Postwar Germany (University of Michigan Press 2011). She also co-edited a special issue of the Journal of Refugee Studies on “The Refugee in the Postwar World, 1945-1960.”
Ocean Howell

Ocean Howell is Assistant Professor of History in the Clark Honors College, and in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture, at the University of Oregon.  He is the author of Making the Mission: Planning and Ethnicity in San Francisco (University of Chicago Press, 2015).  He is also the author of numerous articles, including most recently "The Merchant Crusaders: Private Developers and Fair Housing, 1948 - 1973," Pacific Historical Review.  Ocean received his Ph.D. from the Department of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley.  Ocean's CESTA project, "Imagined San Francisco," seeks to analyze the stability of political coalitions in the twentieth-century city through a comparative analysis of unrealized urban plans.  

Nicholas Jenkins
Nicholas Jenkins writes about and teaches 20th-century culture and literature, especially poetry. After receiving his B.A. from Oxford, Jenkins came to the United States as a Harkness Fellow. He did postgraduate work at Columbia and was then employed as an editor and writer at ARTnews magazine in New York. He received a D.Phil. from Oxford and, after teaching in the Harvard English Department for two years, where he co-directed the "Modernism in its Contexts" seminar at the Center for Literary and Cultural Studies, he joined the Stanford English Department in 1998. Jenkins is currently completing two projects: a critical edition of W.H. Auden's The Double Man (1941) and a book, under contract to Harvard University Press, called The Island: W.H. Auden and the Making of a Post-National Poetry. Using Auden's work of the 1930s and 1940s as a case study, the volume describes a mid-twentieth-century shift from lyrics of poetic nationalism to a poetics of lyric cosmopolitanism. (An essay on this theme: "Writing without 'Roots': Auden, Eliot and Post-National Poetry" was recently published in the collection "Something We Have That They Don't": British and American Poetic Relations Since 1925.) Jenkins has edited a Lincoln Kirstein Reader and co-edited and contributed to three volumes of Auden Studies. He is Series Editor of the Princeton University Press's "Facing Pages" translation series, and he regularly contributes essays and reviews to periodicals that include the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, New York Times Book Review, the New Republic, the New Yorker, and theYale Review. A recepient of fellowships from the ACLS and from the Stanford Humanities Center, Nicholas Jenkins is Co-Chair of the W.H. Auden Society and Literary Executor of the poet, scholar and ballet impresario Lincoln Kirstein.
Toby Jones

Toby C. Jones is an associate professor of history at Rutgers University. He has lived and worked extensively in the Middle East, including several years in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. During 2008-2009 he was a fellow at Princeton University's Oil, Energy, and the Middle East project. From 2004 to early 2006 Jones worked as the Persian Gulf political analyst for the International Crisis Group. His research interests focus on the environment, energy, and the history of science and technology. He is the author of Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia (Harvard University Press, 2010) and is currently working on two new books, America's Oil Wars (under contract at Harvard University Press) and Running Dry: Essays on Environmental Crisis (under contract with Rutgers University Press). He has written for the International Journal of Middle East Studies, Journal of American History, Middle East Report, Raritan Quarterly Review, The Nation, The Atlantic, the London Review of Books, the New York Times, and elsewhere. Jones is a member of the Editorial Committee at Middle East Report and Director of Rutgers' Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

Ana Minian
Ana Raquel Minian is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History and the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE).

Her current book project explores the late-twentieth-century history of Mexican undocumented migration to the United States, the growth of migrant communities, and bi-national efforts to regulate the border. It uses over two hundred oral history interviews, government archives, migrant correspondence, privately held organizational records and personal collections, pamphlets and unpublished ephemera, and newspapers and magazines collected in Washington D.C., Chicago, the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Michoacán, Zacatecas, and Mexico City. As the first sustained history of transnational Mexican migration from 1965 to 1986, this work addresses audiences interested in U.S. and Latin American political history, Latina/o history, and Migration Studies. Minian is also working on a project on the United Farm Workers (UFW) union and another on Guatemalan transmigration through Mexico and into the United States.
Tom Mullaney
Lead Researcher
Tom Mullaney is Associate Professor of Chinese History at Stanford. He is the author of Coming to Terms with the Nation: Ethnic Classification in Modern China and principal editor of Critical Han Studies: The History, Representation and Identity of China’s Majority. His second book project, tentatively titled The Chinese Typewriter: A Global History, examines China’s development of a modern, nonalphabetic information infrastructure encompassing telegraphy, typewriting, word processing, and computing. This project has received three major awards and fellowships, including the 2013 Usher Prize, a three-year National Science Foundation fellowship, and a Hellman Faculty Fellowship. The book is nearing completion. Tom is excited to partner with CESTA as he commences work on a new project on modern China.
Thomas Nygren
Thomas Nygren is Postdoctoral Scholar in Digital Humanities, funded by the Wallenberg foundation, currently studying Human Rights Education in history and the impact of digital media on knowledge production in history and education. With a background in contemporary world history, historiography and education his work centers around analyzing different uses of history. In Sweden, he is Senior Lecturer in Education in the Department of Education, Uppsala University, and researcher at HUMlab, Umeå University.
Christian Robles-Baez
Graduate Researcher

Christian Robles-Baez is a PhD student at Stanford, where he is studying the Economic and Social History of Modern Latin America from a transnational perspective. He earned a master’s degree in Economics and a B.A. in Political Science from Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá. He is also co-author (with Miguel Urrutia) of Política Social para la Equidad en Colombia, a book on the history of social policies in Colombia published by Ediciones Uniandes in 2021. At Stanford, under the guidance of professor Zephyr Frank, Christian has focused his studies on the history of the coffee economy in Brazil, Colombia and the United States.

Luca Scholz
Luca Scholz is a Mellon Fellow and lecturer in the Department of History. He received his PhD in history from the European University Institute in Florence in 2016. His current book project retraces the history of the modern state’s grasp over flows of goods and people, particularly during the era of European state formation. He is the author of several articles in English, German and French, dealing with the history of passports and the politics of protection. At Stanford, Luca teaches courses on early modern and spatial history. Luca’s CESTA project, “Mapping Old Regimes of Movement”, seeks to provide alternatives to conventional representations of early modern states, particularly by visualizing early modern socio-political orders as regimes of movement.
Erik Steiner
Digital Humanities Specialist

Erik Steiner helped found the Lab in 2007 and served as the first Lab Director until 2010. He now serves as the Co-Director of the Spatial History Project. Before coming to Stanford, Erik worked at the InfoGraphics Lab in the Department of Geography at the University of Oregon. Erik has fifteen years' experience in leading the design and development of print and interactive information visualizations, including CD-ROMs, atlases, websites, and museum kiosks. He is also a former president of the North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS). A designer at heart, Erik is passionate about building deep creative partnerships that cut across disciplines and expertise.

Joseph Taylor
Jay Taylor is a former Canada Research Chair in Environmental History and Geography and a current professor of history at Simon Fraser University. He specializes in environmental history and the history of the North American West, and he has written widely about contests over public lands and natural resources. His books include Making Salmon: An Environmental History of the Northwest Fisheries Crisis (1999) and Pilgrims of the Vertical: Yosemite Rock Climbers and Nature at Risk (2010). In addition to the Follow the Money Project, he is working on a biographical study of Colorado congressman Edward T. Taylor, titled Voice of the West: Colorado’s Ed Taylor and the Rise of Modern America, and a history of federal conservation told from the perspective of the Congress, titled Forty-Seven Percent of the West: Congress and Progressive Conservation.
Jim Tice
Professor of Architecture Jim Tice at the University of Oregon, is a Research Fellow at Studium Urbis, an international study center in Rome devoted to the study of the city’s urban history. As a teacher, scholar and architect, he has devoted 25 years to the study of Italian architecture and urbanism. He has co-authored two books on architecture one of which uses computer generated visualization techniques to reveal architectural principles. He has earned awards for work that is national and international in scope. His most recent projects include research and publication of two interactive websites with Erik Steiner, the "Interactive Nolli Map Website" that was honored with the NorthWest Academic Computing Consortium Award for outstanding project of the year and "Imago Urbis: Giusepe Vasi''s Grand Tour of Rome" that was the result of a major research grant from the Getty Foundation. Most recently he was awarded an American Council of Learned Societies Digital Fellowship for his continuing study of Rome from antiquity to the present.
Richard White
Former Director
Richard White is the Margaret Byrne Professor of American History at Stanford University and is the principal investigator for the Shaping the West project. This project explores the construction of space by transcontinental railroads in North America during the late nineteenth-century. Professor White has been conducting this research for the last twelve years.
Brandon Wolfe-Hunnicutt

Brandon Wolfe-Hunnicutt is an Assistant Professor at California State University Stanislaus. His current research focuses on the intersection of U.S. foreign policy, international business history, and Middle East studies. His is currently working on a book tentatively titled, Oil and the Limits of American Power in Iraq: U.S. Foreign Policy and the Nationalization of the Iraq Petroleum Company, 1958-1975. The book analyzes the U.S. foreign policy response to the 1958 Free Officers’ Revolution in Baghdad. He argues that the change of government in Iraq posed a significant challenge to the prevailing international political economy of oil, and that American policymakers sought to contain this threat by promoting a modernization process that would preserve private industry control over Iraqi oil fields. He concludes that the ultimate nationalization of the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC) in 1972 undermined the structure of the world oil industry and set the stage for a reordering of the global economy.

Wolfe-Hunnicutt is also beginning a new project on the history of what President Eisenhower described as the “military-industrial complex.” He is particularly interested in analyzing the role that arms manufactures play in the American political economy, and the way that particular defense contractors have influenced U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

Ali Yaycioglu
Ali Yaycioglu ( Ali Yaycioglu is a historian of the Ottoman Empire. His research centers on the economic, political, and legal institutions, ideas and practices; forms of accumulating and losing power and wealth; spatial organization of the empire; and the transformation of the social-religious order in the eighteenth and the early nineteenth centuries. He also has a research agenda on how people imagined, represented and recorded property, territory, and nature in early modern era and how we can use digital tools to understand, visualize and conceptualize these imaginations, representations and recordings. Dr. Yaycioglu teaches courses on the Middle East and the Balkans during the Ottoman rule; history of Muslim world from medieval to modern times; empires, markets and networks in the early modern world; economic history and history of Modern Turkey. Professor Yaycioglu's first book, Partners of the Empire: Crisis of the Ottoman Order in the Age of Revolutions (Stanford University Press, 2016) offers a radical rethinking of the Ottoman Empire within the global context of the revolutionary age in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. His current book project, The Ultimate Debt: Power, Wealth and Death in the Ottoman Empire, analyzes the relationship between death, debt and redistribution in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the Ottoman World. It examines how obligations and liabilities were restructured; assets were redistributed; and objects changed their owners when people died. The book focuses on various case studies of postmortem settlements under the light of probate inventories. One of the aims of the book is to re-conceptualize the Ottoman political-economic order through uncertainties, risks and opportunities after death. Born and raised in Ankara, Turkey, Ali Yaycioglu studied International Relations at the Middle East Technical University and Ottoman History at Bilkent University. Then, he studied Arabic and Islamic legal history at McGill University in Montreal. Yaycioglu completed his Ph.D. in History and Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard in 2008. After his Ph.D., Yaycioglu carried out post-doctoral studies in the Agha Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at the same university and then in Hellenic Studies at Princeton. He joined the History Department at Stanford in 2011. Professor Yaycioglu is a board member of Stanford’s Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA) and an associate member of the Centre d'études turques, ottomanes, balkaniques et centrasiatiques at L'École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris.
Spatial History