Dr John S. Lee

(Former)

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Biography

I am an environmental historian of early modern East Asia, particularly the Korean peninsula, with transregional interests in: comparative histories of pre-industrial forestry; the history of pine; the premodern history of the conservationist state; and the long-term environmental legacies of Eurasian empires.

My current monograph project, Kingdom of Pines: State Forestry and the Making of Korea, 918-1910, examines the rise and fall of the longest continuous state forestry system in world history, that of Korea's Chosŏn dynasty.  For five centuries, the Chosŏn dynasty maintained an extensive state forestry system around the protection of a single type of conifer, the pine, across the Korean peninsula. Kingdom of Pines tells the story of how state forestry worked - and did not work - for so long in the limited confines of a pre-industrial agrarian polity. My other current project examines the environmental legacies of the Mongol Empire in Asia, with focus on the long-term impact of Inner Asian equine culture on the woodland and coastal zones of sedentary East Asia.

I joined the History department at the University of Manchester as Presidential Fellow in Environmental History in the Fall of 2018. Before I came to Manchester, I was a Postdoctoral Associate in the Program in Agrarian Studies at Yale University. I received my Ph.D in History and East Asian Languages in 2017 from the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University.

Areas of expertise

  • D890 Eastern Hemisphere - Environmental history, Comparative early modern history, Comparative empires, History of forestry
  • DS Asia - Northeast Asia, Korea

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