Thematic Research Area
Regional Research Area
Joint appointment in the Department of Geography.
On study leave, July 2022 – June 2023.
Jessica Wang works on nineteenth- and twentieth-century U.S. history and has pursued a wide range of interests related to the history of science and medicine, U.S. political and intellectual history, political theory, urban and social history, and the history of U.S. foreign relations. Her most recent book, Mad Dogs and Other New Yorkers: Rabies, Medicine, and Society in an American Metropolis, 1840-1920, uses the social history of a dread disease to explore urban social geography, the place of domesticated animals in the nineteenth-century city, the centrality of pathological anatomy to the American medical imagination, the institutional contexts of medicine, disease, and public health, and the ties between the public-private relationship, urban governance, and American state-building. This research also rests on Wang’s longer-term engagement with questions about the social and political contexts of knowledge, ideas, and public authority, which she has also addressed through studies of cold war American science, science and democratic political theory, social science and New Deal political economy, internationalism and U.S. foreign relations, and social knowledge, state power, and American globalism. She will continue to develop these themes in two new book projects: one on tropical agriculture and American empire, 1898-1930, and a second, broader study of inter-imperial collusion and American empire in the early twentieth century.
Wang’s other publications include American Science in an Age of Anxiety (1999), as well as articles in the Journal of American History, Isis, Osiris, the Journal of Policy History, Historical studies in the natural sciences, History and Technology, the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, and other forums. Her research has earned support from the National Science Foundation (U.S.), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and the Killam Trusts, among other sources. She is also a two-time recipient of fellowships at Harvard University’s Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, where she visited as a faculty fellow in the spring 2012 semester, and in the 2018-19 academic year.
- U.S. history, 19th and 20th centuries
- U.S. international history
- political and intellectual history
- history of science and medicine
- American political development
- social knowledge and state power
- knowledge and empire
Books and Edited Volumes
“Empires of Knowledge: Constructing Global Order in the Twentieth Century,” co-edited with Axel Jansen and John Krige, special issue, History and Technology 35:3 (2019): 195-363.
Mad Dogs and Other New Yorkers: Rabies, Medicine, and Society in an American Metropolis, 1840-1920, audio edition (Tantor Media, 2019).
Mad Dogs and Other New Yorkers: Rabies, Medicine, and Society in an American Metropolis, 1840-1920(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019).
“Nation, Knowledge, and Imagined Futures: Science, Technology, and Nation-Building, Post-1945,” special issue, co-edited with John Krige, History and Technology 31:3 (2015): 171-340.
American Science in an Age of Anxiety: Scientists, Anticommunism, and the Cold War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999).
“Knowledge, State Power, and the Invention of International Science,” in Knowledge Flows in a Global Age: A Transnational Approach, ed. John Krige (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2022).
“Agricultural Expertise, Race, and Economic Development: Small Producer Ideology and Settler Colonialism in the Territory of Hawaii, 1900-1917,” special issue on “Development Interventions: Science, Technology and Technical Assistance,” ed. Gisela Mateos and Edna Suárez-Díaz, History and Technology 36:3-4 (2020): 310-36.
“Plants, Insects, and the Biological Management of American Empire: Tropical Agriculture in Early Twentieth-Century Hawai’i,” in “Empires of Knowledge: Constructing Global Order in the Twentieth Century,” ed. Axel Jansen, John Krige, and Jessica Wang, special issue, History and Technology 35:3 (2019): 203-36.
“Introduction,” co-authored with Axel Jansen and John Krige, special issue on “Empires of Knowledge: Constructing Global Order in the Twentieth Century,” ed. Axel Jansen, John Krige, and Jessica Wang, History and Technology 35:3 (2019): 195-202.
“Looking Forward in a Failing World: Adolf A. Berle, Jr., the United States, and Global Order in the Interwar Years,” Seattle University Law Review 42:2 (2019): 385-416.
“Broken Symmetry’: Physics, Aesthetics, and Moral Virtue in Nuclear Age America,” in Epistemic Virtues: Towards an Integrated History of the Sciences and the Humanities, ed. Herman J. Paul and Jeroen van Dongen, Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science, vol. 321 (Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing, 2017), 27-47.
“A State of Rumor: Low Knowledge, Nuclear Fear, and the Scientist as Security Risk,” in “Governing the Security State,” ed. William Bendix and Paul Quirk, special issue, Journal of Policy History 28:3 (July 2016): 406-46.
“Colonial Crossings: Social Science, Social Knowledge, and American Power, 1890-1970,” in Cold War Science and the Transatlantic Circulation of Knowledge, ed. Jeroen van Dongen (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2015), 184-213.
“Introduction,” co-authored with John Krige, “Nation, Knowledge, and Imagined Futures: Science, Technology, and Nation-Building, Post-1945,” Special issue, History and Technology 31:3 (September 2015): 171-179.
“Physics, Emotion, and the Scientific Self: Merle Tuve’s Cold War,” Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 42 (November 2012): 341-388.
“Dogs and the making of the American state: voluntary association, state power, and the politics of animal control in New York City, 1850–1920,” Journal of American History 98 (March 2012): 998-1024.
“The science of industrial labor relations and U.S. public policy: William Leiserson, David Saposs, and labor economics in the interwar years,” Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 46 (Fall 2010), 371-393.
“Neo-Brandeisianism and the New Deal: Adolf A. Berle, Jr., William O. Douglas, and the Problem of Corporate Finance in the 1930s,” Seattle University Law Review 33:4 (2010), 1221-46.
“Condon, Edward Uhler,” in New Dictionary of Scientific Biography, ed. Noretta Koertge (New York: Charles Scribner and Sons, 2007), 164-71.
“Purges in Comparative Perspective: Rules for Exclusion and Inclusion in the Scientific Community under Political Pressure,” co-authored with Richard Beyler and Alexei Kojevnikov, in Osiris, vol. 20, Politics and Science in Wartime: Comparative International Perspectives on the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute (2005), ed. Carola Sachse and Mark Walker, pp. 23-48.
“Imagining the Administrative State: Legal Pragmatism, Securities Regulation, and New Deal Liberalism,”Journal of Policy History 17:3 (2005), 257-293.
“The United States, the United Nations, and the Other Post-Cold War World Order: Internationalism and Unilateralism in the American Century,”in Cold War Triumphalism: The Politics of American History After the Fall of Communism, ed. Ellen W. Schrecker (New York: New Press, 2004), 201-34.
“Scientists and the Problem of the Public in Cold War America, 1945-1960,” in Osiris, vol. 17, Science and Civil Society (2002), ed. Lynn K. Nyhart and Thomas H. Broman, pp. 323-347.
“Physics in the Anti-Communist Arena: Edward U. Condon and the Cold War Politics of Loyalty,” Physics Today54 (December 2001): 35-41.
“Merton’s Shadow: Perspectives on Science and Democracy since 1940,” Historical studies in the physical and biological sciences 30 (1999), 279-306.
“Liberals, the progressive left, and the political economy of postwar American science: the National Science Foundation debate revisited,” Historical studies in the physical and biological sciences 26 (1995), 139-166.
“Science, Security, and the Cold War: The Case of E. U. Condon,” Isis 83 (June 1992), 238-269.
Selected Review Essays
Commentary on Mario Daniels and John Krige, Knowledge Regulation and National Security in Postwar America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2022), H-Diplo roundtable, https://networks.h-net.org/node/28443/discussions/10954184/h-diplo-roundtable-xxiv-8-epstein-daniels-and-krige-knowledge (posted 17 October 2022).
Review essay of Andrew A. Robichaud, Animal City: The Domestication of America (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2019), in American Historical Review 126:2 (June 2021): 725-28.
Review essay of Mario Daniels, “Controlling Knowledge, Controlling People: Travel Restrictions on U.S. Scientists and National Security,” Diplomatic History 43:1 (2019): 57-82, on H-Diplo, https://networks.h-net.org/node/28443/discussions/5761367/h-diplo-article-review-921-wang-daniels-“controlling-knowledge (posted 28 January 2020).
“Reckoning with the Spatial Turn,” Review essay of Charles S. Maier, Once within Borders: Territories of Power, Wealth, and Belonging since 1500 (Cambridge, MA and London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2016), and William Rankin, After the Map: Cartography, Navigation, and the Transformation of Territory in the Twentieth Century (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2016), in Diplomatic History 41:5 (November 2017): 1010-18.
Doctoral dissertations supervised or co-supervised:
Denzil Ford, “The Sea, the Ship, and I: Stories, Things, and Objects from Oceanography during the Cold War” (UBC, 2015).
Henry Trim, “Experts at Work: The Canadian State, Environmentalism, and Renewable Energy in an Era of Limits, 1968-1983” (UBC, 2014).
Melvin Lebe, “Diminished Hopes: The United States and the United Nations during the Truman Years” (UCLA, 2012).
James Burnham Sedgwick, “The Trial Within: Negotiating Justice at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, 1946-1948” (UBC, 2012).
Victor J. Rodriguez, “The Practical Man: John Dewey, the Idea of America, and the Making of the Modern Mexican, 1923-1934” (UCLA, 2009).
Megan K. Barnhart, “‘To Secure the Benefits of Science to the General Welfare’: The Scientists’ Movement and the American Public during the Cold War, 1945-1960” (UCLA, 2007).
Peter S. Alagona, “Transforming Conservation: Endangered Species, Biodiversity, and the Political Economy of Science in California” (UCLA, 2006).
Laura J. Gifford, “The Center Cannot Hold: The 1960 Presidential Election and the Rise of Modern Conservatism” (UCLA, 2006).
Amanda K. McVety, “Truman’s Point Four Program and the Creation of America’s Modern Diplomatic Vision” (UCLA, 2006).
Jessica B. Elkind, “The First Casualties: American Nation Building Programs in South Vietnam, 1955-1965” (UCLA, 2005).
M.A. theses supervised or co-supervised:
Leo Chia-Li Chu, “Simulating the Nature of Cities: Ecology, Planning, and Systems Science in the Inter-Institutional Policy Simulator (IIPS) Project, 1970-1974” (UBC, 2020).
Elspeth Gow, “Livestock in the Living History Laboratory: Backbreeding, Whole Systems, and the Living Historical Farms Movement” (UBC, 2020).
Hanna Murray, “Bullets, Bolos, and the Moros: Policing and Anthropology in the Colonial Philippines, 1901-1914” (UBC, 2019).
Dexter Fergie, “Re-Imagining America: The Princeton Military Studies Group and the Cultivation of the National Security Imagination, 1933-1947” (UBC, 2016).
Glynnis Kirchmeier, “‘We know them all as men who shall receive the protection of the law’: Chinese Participants in the Courts of Port Townsend, Washington Territory” (UBC, 2013).
Elizabeth Knowland, “Learning Internationalism: NASA’s Switch from National Security to International Cooperation on the Space Station” (UBC, 2013).
Philip Dunlop, “Sideshow Revisited: Cambodia and the Failure of American Diplomacy, 1973” (UBC, 2010).