Philip Thai

Philip Thai

Ph. D., Stanford University; Modern Chinese History, Legal History, Economic History

221 Meserve Hall

T: (617) 373-3339


Philip Thai is a historian of Modern China with research and teaching interests that include legal history, economic history, state-building, business history, and history of capitalism.  At the core of his research is the interplay between law, society, and economy, and his interdisciplinary work has been supported by a number of organizations, including the Fulbright-Hays Program, Social Science Research Council (SSRC), Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, and Freeman Spogli Institute (FSI).  Drawing from diverse sources including customs records, court cases, popular press reports, and trade statistics, he is currently working on a manuscript that uses China’s war on smuggling during the early twentieth century to examine the transformation of state authority and the larger socioeconomic impact of state-building.  The project engages with wider research in legal and economic history by examining the creation and enforcement of new legal categories and strategies merchants employed in response to changing regulatory environments.  Professor Thai received his Ph.D. from Stanford University and his B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley.  Between his time as a graduate and undergraduate student, he spent several years as a consultant and financial analyst in the private sector.

Curriculum Vitae