headshot of John Cheng

John Cheng

Associate Professor

Department of Asian and Asian American Studies


John Cheng is a historian of modern America and the history of science and technology. His book, Astounding Wonder (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012), explores the emergence of science fiction as a popular cultural genre in interwar America and its relationship to popular science, and was selected by Locus Magazine for its 2012 Recommended Reading list. He is currently working on two new inter-related projects: Unnatural Citizens examines racial denaturalization and expatriation and their consequences for Asian Americans and the racial character of 20th-century American citizenship. Barred Zones considers the geographic implications of racial modernity, exploring the inter-relationships between technology, territory, law and race for the United States and other emergent nation-states in the turn of the 20th-century’s age of empire.

Professor Cheng also contributed to the documentary series Race: The Power of an Illusion (California Newsreel, 2003), holds a patent from youthful summers as a research intern and before coming to Binghamton, was involved with a number of Asian American community organizations in the Washington, DC and Chicago metro areas.


  • PhD, MA, University of California
  • AB, Harvard College

Research Interests

  • comparative transnational and intersectional studies of race; gender; and nation
  • popular culture; media; and technology
  • the history of earth; life; and human sciences and of computing
  • historiography and critical theory

Teaching Interests

  • Asian American history
  • race and popular culture
  • comparative transnational racial formation
  • historical methods and documentary history
  • digital culture and literacy