Department of History

Ruth Mostern

  • Professor

Watch Dr. Mostern discuss her innovative digital history work.


History of China
World History
Spatial History
Environmental History


World History
Environmental History
Spatial History Methods
The Silk Road
The Medieval World
World History of Rivers

Education & Training

  • Ph.D. UC Berkeley, 2003

Representative Publications

Dividing the Realm in Order to Govern:  The Spatial Organization of the Song State (960-1276 CE), 2011 Harvard University Asia Center Monographs distributed by Harvard University Press.

Placing Names:  Enriching and Integrating Gazetteers, Indiana University Press 2016 (edited with Humphrey Southall and Merrick Lex Berman).

Don’t Just Build It, They Probably Won’t Come: Rethinking Data Sharing and the Social Life of Data in the Historical Quantitative Social Sciences, International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing 10.2 (2016), 205–224 (with Marieka Arksey).

Sediment and State in Imperial China: The Yellow River Watershed as an Earth System and a World System, Nature and Culture 11.2 (Summer 2016), 121-147.

Research Interests

I am currently working on two large-scale projects. 

The World-Historical Gazetteer is an NEH-funded initiative to develop content and infrastructure for databases of historical place-names that have been used around the world for the last five hundred years.  It will be a reference work in its own right and a back-end source for historical maps and spatial search.

Following the Tracks of Yu: The Ecological and Imperial Worlds of the Yellow River is a book that describes how people interacted with and transformed a dynamic riparian system of water and silt over thousands of years. The book relies on spatial and data analysis along with close readings of documents.