Ian is Associate Professor in the Department of Taiwan Culture, Languages, and Literature at National Taiwan Normal University. He previously served as Assistant Professor of Sociology, Geography and Urban Planning at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
His work on culture, politics, and place-making has appeared in The Journal of Asian Studies, Annals of the American Association of Geographers, Annals of Tourism Research, Asian Anthropology, International Journal of Transitional Justice, The New York Times, the BBC Chinese, The Guardian and elsewhere. His book, One China, Many Taiwans: The Geopolitics of Cross-Strait Tourism was published by Cornell University Press in January 2023.
He has been a Visiting Scholar at Fudan University (China) and Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen (Germany), a postdoctoral fellow at Academia Sinica (Taiwan), and a Fellow of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Agile Governance. His research has been supported with a Fulbright Fellowship and multiple US National Science Foundation grants. He has delivered invited talks at institutions including Stanford, Harvard, University of California Berkeley, SOAS University of London, and NYU Shanghai.
Fluent in Mandarin Chinese and proficient in Bahasa Indonesia, he is editor of Transitions in Taiwan: Stories of the White Terror (Cambria Press, 2021) and served as lead translator of Tibetan Environmentalists in China: The King of Dzi (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015), a book written by journalist and Peking University and UC Berkeley fellow Liu Jianqiang that explores the interface of religion, ecology, and cultural politics in Tibet. Ian’s previous translations credits include such award-winning films as ‘Splendid Float’ and ‘Spider Lilies’, directed by Zero Chou.
Much of his early scholarly work focuses on the cultural and political geography of both travel and protest between the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan. Treating tourism as a political technology, he pays particular attention to performances of state territory and ethno-national membership. His newer work examines the cultural politics and geopolitics of hybrid event spaces of globalizing cultural movements such as Occupy, Burning Man, and speculative fiction. All of these projects are grounded in action research and long-term participant-observation.
Before earning his PhD in Geography from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2016, Ian worked as a translator, journalist, musician, tour guide, hotelier and entrepreneur. He received a B.A. with honors in a double major of Mathematics and East Asian Studies (Chinese), as well as the JWT Youngs Mathematics Prize from the University of California Santa Cruz in 2001, for his senior seminar paper entitled, ‘A Tour of the Hyperreals: An Introduction to Non-standard Analysis’.
Complementing his creative and academic endeavors, Ian currently serves as International Meta-Regional Representative for the Burning Man Project, and served for over a decade as its China and Taiwan Regional Contact. In these capacities, he has designed interactive art pieces, founded events, connected communities, and continues to serve in an advisory role to Project founders, directors and staff.