Ryan Wolfson-Ford is a historian of 19th and 20th century Laos in the School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies. In addition to courses on modern Southeast Asia, he teaches thematic courses on Asian Democracy and the Cold War in Asia as well as broader introductory survey courses on Asian and World History for the undergraduate and online History and Asian Studies programs.
His first booklength manuscript concerns the first post-colonial state of Laos as it became a major battlefield of the Cold War. This work presents a pioneering study of the indigenous roots and evolution of Lao forms of democracy and anticommunism while arguing that Lao were not simply pawns of global powers but had agency and ideology by which they charted their own course in the Cold War. Ultimately a new rightwing post-colonial nationalism led Lao leaders to plunge their country into the maw of the Second Indochina War.
He has presented his work at numerous conferences and workshops including the Association of Asian Studies, the International Conference on Lao Studies, the University of London's School of Oriental and Africa Studies and Oxford University. His research has appeared in peer reviewed scholarly journals including the Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, South East Asia Research and the Journal of Lao Studies. His latest forthcoming work will appear in an edited volume on monarchy and decolonization from Manchester University Press.
He started working at ASU in 2019 and earned his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before that he was an adjunct at Marist College and Mercy College in New York and Western Connecticut State University. He conducts research in Lao, Thai, and French as well as a number of esoteric scripts of premodern Laos and Thailand. His research has been funded by the Library of Congress Asia Divison, the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at UW-Madison, and Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok Thailand among other organizations.
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
M.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison
B.A., Western Connecticut State University
Modern Laos, Lao elite, palm leaf manuscripts, nationalism, democracy, anti-communism, decolonization and Cold War history, Modern Lao intellectual history.