New Books by Faculty

The Department of American Studies announces the publication of two new books by faculty.


William Chapman

Based on more than fifteen years of travel, research, and visits to hundreds of ancient sites, A Heritage of Ruins: The Ancient Sites of Southeast Asia and Their Conservation, by Robert Chapman, shows the close connection between “ruins conservation” and both colonialism and nation building. It also demonstrates the profound impact of European-derived ideas of historic and aesthetic significance on ancient ruins and how these continue to color the management and presentation of sites in Southeast Asia today. Angkor, Pagan (Bagan), Borobudur, and Ayutthaya lie at the center of this cultural and architectural tour, but less visited sites, including Laos’s stunning Vat Phu, the small temple platforms of Malaysia’s Lembah Bujang Valley, the candi of the Dieng Plateau in Java, and the ruins of Mingun in Burma and Wiang Kum Kam near Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, are also discussed. All share a relative isolation from modern urban centers of population, sitting in park-like settings, serving as objects of tourism and as lynchpins for local and even national economies. Chapman argues that these sites also remain important to surrounding residents, both as a means of income and as continuing sources of spiritual meaning. He examines the complexities of heritage efforts in the context of present-day expectations by focusing on the roles of both outside and indigenous experts in conservation and management and on attempts by local populations to reclaim their patrimony and play a larger role in protection and interpretation.

For more information and to purchase this book, visit:




Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez

Securing Paradise: Tourism and Militarism in Hawai’i and the Philippines (Duke University Press), by Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez, analyzes how cultures of U.S. imperialism are produced and sustained in Asia and the Pacific, particularly in Hawai’i and the Philippines, by the mutually reinforcing dynamics of tourism and militarism.


Securing Paradise will become a landmark work. It is the first systematic comparison of the Philippines and Hawai’i within the shared optic of U.S. imperial history and its military-tourism security complex. It will serve as a model for an emergent American postcolonial studies, paving the way for a more appropriately cosmopolitan critique of the already cosmopolitan workings of capitalism and empire.”—Vicente L. Rafael, author of The Promise of the Foreign: Nationalism and the Technics of Translation in the Spanish Philippines


For more information, and to order the book directly from Duke University Press, please visit