Honors Director


Shana J. Brown is Associate Professor of History and Director of the Honors Program at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. She has a BA summa cum laude from Amherst College, and a PhD in History from the University of California, Berkeley. Prof. Brown is a historian of science and culture in Asia, particularly modern China. Her research and teaching bring the sciences and humanities in conversation, foregrounding the contributions of Asian intellectuals, especially women, to modern science and academic life. Her goal is to build awareness and appreciation for the ethnic and gender diversity that underlays the many positive transformations of our modern world.

As a predoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, Prof. Brown began to research the values and practices of Asian visual culture and science, including how Chinese philosophical concepts regarding empiricism, humanism, and authenticity intersected with Western scientific practice. The result was her first book, Pastimes (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2011), which focuses on the emergence of modern Chinese social science in the early 20th century.

Her international reputation as a specialist in Asian science and culture, as well as fine art and visual media, has resulted in invitations to speak in France, the UK, Japan, China, and Germany, as well as a forthcoming publication of Pastimes in Chinese by Zhejiang University Press.

Prof. Brown is now underway on two research projects. The first focuses on women intellectuals in modern China, examining the contributions of artists, scientists, writers, and social thinkers from the early 1800’s to today. She is also working on a book project on the technology and political uses of photography in wartime China, with one book chapter published, and a completed manuscript planned for summer 2025.

More recently she has begun a new project on the history of infectious disease in the context of US-China relations. This project has developed out of her recent development of the popular course HIST156: World History of Human Disease. Focusing on how disease is a social, political, and cultural event, the class brings a transnational and comparative viewpoint to examine the transformative potential of infectious disease in our collective imagining of a better future.

Email: shanab@hawaii.edu
Phone: (808) 956-5404