Remembering Adam McKeown

Adam McKeown

Adam McKeown, a former editor of the series Columbia Studies in International and Global History, passed away recently. Together with Matthew Connelly, Adam founded this book series with Columbia University Press in 2007 and was behind its remarkable growth for a decade. Adam also contributed as an author to the series: his scholarly work Melancholy Order: Asian Migration and the Globalization of Borders was published in 2008 and quickly hailed as a masterpiece. Among other important interventions, Adam invited us to rethink the history of border control. In his eyes, state efforts to control migration mentally, physically and administratively, were first and foremost a result of globalization. As he showed, they were particularly related to nineteenth- and twentieth-century Asian migration flows in an increasingly hierarchical world.

Also in many other writings, Adam McKeown chose migration history and the history of statehood as the chain and thread to weave Asian history and global history into new fabrics. The outcome was grand and colorful – large-scale, daring writing rooted in deep local knowledge and a concomitant love for details. It is small wonder that already as a young scholar, Adam had a strong impact on a variety of research fields. He quickly made the transition from a graduate student to an influential scholar whose publications are being read around the world.

Adam McKeown was a humble person and at the same time a bold and powerful thinker. He loved academia for its intellectual environments but he felt definitely not equally passionate about institutional politics. He chose early retirement at a young age, and it is deeply saddening that a tragic accident ended this new period in his life so quickly and unexpectedly. His memory and his work remain deeply inspiring to us. As the current editors of Columbia Studies in International and Global History, we feel honored to continue at least some aspects of his work.

Cemil Aydin, Timothy Nunan, and Dominic Sachsenmaier
Series editors, Columbia Studies in International and Global History

1 Response

  1. It impresses me that you wrote such a moving tribute for your friend and colleague, Adam. I did not know him, but it sounds like that was my loss. He was fortunate to have you in his life, not afraid to show such feeling. My condolences.

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