STUDENTS | Boyd Ruamcharoen

Boyd Ruamcharoen

Current Research Areas: history of technology, history of science, environmental history, science and technology studies, history of U.S. foreign relations, media studies, Global South studies, internationalisms, tropicality, climate and society, elemental materialisms, decomposition

Boyd is currently completing his dissertation, which historically examines the science of materials deterioration in the tropics and other “extreme” environments, using it as a lens for the history of U.S. foreign relations in the twentieth century. He investigates how scientists and engineers sought to comprehend and prevent the decay of various materials caused by hostile climatic conditions, with particular focus on communications technologies and their material constituents. The science of materials deterioration took shape during World War II, when the U.S. military sought to protect its equipment and materials from tropical ravages. His dissertation traces the roots of this body of scientific knowledge to the experience with U.S. tropical overseas colonies post-1898. It then tracks how the science of climate-induced materials deterioration shaped, and was shaped by, the relations between the U.S. and the world—particularly tropical countries in the Global South—in the era of the Cold War and of global decolonization across different cultural arenas, including militarism, consumer culture, science and engineering, international development, and cultural conservation. At its most elementary, the dissertation asks what message decomposition has to tell us about our relationships with nonhuman nature.