About

I am an urban historian and development economist based in Bangkok, Thailand. I hold a PhD in development studies from the National Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) in Tokyo, which I wrote under the guidance of Kaoru Sugihara.

My PhD focused on Tokyo’s post-war urban economic history, and how the city can be regarded a trailblazer for other Asian metropolises. I am publishing the insights of my thesis in various peer-reviewed journals, including Social Science Japan Journal and International Journal for Sustainable Urban Development; with hopefully more to come, including a monograph.

My other research thread is Myanmar, primarily Yangon. I am one of the authors of Architectural Guide Yangon (DOM publishers, 2015). We are hoping to wrap up a second edition sometime in 2020, although COVID-19 and the ongoing political crisis will make on-site research challenging. I would also like to one day write a book about Benjamin Polk and Raglan Squire’s work in Yangon.

I was also an adjunct professor at Temple University Japan, where I taught classes on political economy, development economics, cities, and Tokyo.

Previously, I worked in finance and as a political analyst for Shell and had stints at several international financial institutions. I hold undergraduate and graduate degrees from SOAS and Cambridge University, respectively.

In the future, I intend to write something on Bangkok, although I am still in a prolonged observation phase and slightly daunted by the city (and its heat!). I would also like to think about sustainable investing once again as well as explore teaching options here in Thailand.

Please get in touch – my email address is written “hello” at my domain name.

You can find me on Linkedin here, and on Twitter here.

7 thoughts on “About

  1. I sat next to you at Piketty lecture. Enjoyed talking to you and your wife. Anything happen after I left? Your blog is so diverse and very interesting–from Ukraine to Canadian architecture! Regards, Anne

  2. Hi Ben,

    Just discovered your site after looking for information about construction going at the US Embassy in Tokyo in 1964.

    Looking through your posts I noticed we have the same interests about urban history. I think you may like my sites MeijiShowa and Old Photos of Japan if you don’t know them already.

    Cheers,
    Kjeld ^_-

  3. Thank you for your article on my father Norman Macrae. Dad was one of the last alumni of Keynes. If you have read the last chapter of Keynes General Theory you will know that Keynsians believe “increasingly only economists rule the world” ie their rules lock in exponentially most of what will be possible for youth out of particular places. We would welcome you joining gycommunity if you feel its about time youth took back what futures are possible! write me if i can introduce you to some GY members.

  4. Ben,

    You work is very interesting. I am urban historian/historic preservationist, and I am very fascinated by the cityscape of pre-war Tokyo. While I have encountered a plethora of images on notable spaces like the Ginza and Nihonbashi, I am looking for written descriptions of photographs of the more workaday residential and industrial areas of the Yamanote and Shitamachi. Any help one where to find these would be greatly appreciated.

  5. Lieber Ben, bin tief beeindruckt von deinen Aktivitäten und akademischen Lorbeeren. Hab nur noch alte Nummern von dir, die wahrscheinlich nicht mehr funktionieren. Wollte mich melden zum Neuen Jahr, euch dreien Glueck und Segen Wünschen und den Kontakt wiederherstellen. Vielleicht erreicht dich das und du reagierst. Meine WhatsApp Nummer ist die alte +491711934325. Freu mich auf eine Nachricht von euch,herzlich dein Xaver

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