STUDENTS | Boyd Ruamcharoen

Boyd Ruamcharoen

Current Research Areas: history of technology, environmental history, history of science, U.S. history, U.S. foreign relations history, environmental media studies; air as an elemental medium, mycology, plant studies, tropicality, empire, internationalisms

I am currently a doctoral candidate. My dissertation traces a material history of media technologies—electronics, photographic film, paper—in tropical environments, using it as a lens for tracking the history of the United States in the world, especially since the Second World War. As a central theme, it investigates how a diverse cast of historical actors—including the U.S. military, industrial engineers, mycologists, and archivists—grappled with the problems that bedeviled media technologies in the tropics, with special attention to the process of accelerated decomposition due to heat, humidity, and biological agents. As these historical actors regurgitated and sometimes subvert older ideas about tropicality, I ask how their understandings of tropical environments, as inflected through their use of media technologies, shape the projection of U.S. power into a wider world in the era of the Cold War and of global decolonization. Aside from my dissertation project, I have also conducted research on the history of U.S. tropical meteorology, the fisheye lens, and Thai typography. I hold a B.A. from Swarthmore College.