Modern and contemporary China, East Asia, urbanism, visual culture, science and technology studies, postcolonial critique, and transnational history.
Tong Lam’s research areas include the modern and contemporary history of China, science and technology, politics and aesthetics, urbanism, and empire. His first book, A Passion for Facts: Social Surveys and the Construction of the Chinese Nation-State, 1900-1949 (2011), analyzes the profound consequences of the emergence of the technology of the “social fact” and social survey research in modern China. Professor Lam’s current research examines China’s urban infrastructures, ruins and ruination, as well as the renewed imperial ambitions of the later Qing empire. As a visual artist, he uses photographic and cinematographic techniques to dissect contemporary China’s transformation, as well as Cold War ruins around the world. He has published a photo-essay book, Abandoned Futures (2013), and has exhibited his work internationally.