Marlboro College

Academics Seth Harter - History & Asian Studies

Contact Seth Harter; 802-258-9265

"Recently there has been a lot of talk, in connection with globalization, about the importance of understanding Asia," says Seth Harter. "I couldn’t agree more, but I think that discussions of globalization in the media often promote two misconceptions: first, that global economic interdependence is a recent phenomenon; and second, that globalization has created a culturally homogenous world. One of the greatest contributions that Asian studies can make, in the liberal arts context, is to counter these two misconceptions."

Teaching Philosophy

"I want to use the heterogeneity of Asian history to get students to think about seemingly familiar phenomena—gender relations, migration, time, money—in new ways," says Seth. He looks forward to working with students with creativity and determination, as well as great research and writing skills. "I feel like the open-ended nature of our curricular structure—particularly at the Plan level—means that students' creativity and determination can take them places they couldn't go at other schools. It also makes the work of the Plan sponsor more delightful."

Student Plans and Collaborations

Research Interests

Seth plunged into Asian studies after teaching in Hong Kong, which captivated him with its energy and its resistance to simple categorization: "The city was simultaneously a colony and not colonial, both individualistic and family-oriented, at once cosmopolitan and parochial." Fascinated by the paradoxes he saw there, he used them as the basis of his dissertation in history, which examines the relationship between Hong Kong and China in the mid-20th century.

In recent years Seth has developed an interest in Daoism, and he serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Daoist Studies. His research has led to an experimental seminar that explores Daoist traditions while raising questions about the place of physical practice in the classroom. Out of this experiment came a paper presented at the Fifth International Daoist Studies Conference in 2009 at Wudangshan, China. Seth is currently exploring the concept of embodied learning in Asia and the West, exploring the ways in which our minds are inseparable from our bodies and how our materiality bears on our epistemology.

Selected Publications

"Practice in the classroom: To taiji or not to taiji?" Journal of Daoist Studies 3 (2010).

B.A., Yale University, 1989; M.A.,University of Michigan, 1996; PhD., University of Michigan, 2006; Marlboro College, 2000 –


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