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Tom Smith

Research Interests

I am a third-year PhD student writing a dissertation on American Protestant missionaries in Hawai'i and the Philippines, around the time of the arrival of formal American empire in both island groups in 1898. I consider how missionaries made use of history to justify and contextualize the American missionary and imperial presence in the Pacific, generating knowledge about other peoples to bolster U.S. authority. At the same time, however, I consider how the historical narratives they told reflected missionaries' differing relationships with religious ideals, American power, and indigenous knowledge in each setting, thus betraying empire's incoherence and malleability when faced with the cultures it sought to dominate.


I offer supervisions for Part I, Paper 24 (History of the United States since 1865). I have also taught for Part II, Paper 30 ('Islands and Beaches': The Pacific and Indian Oceans in the Long-Nineteenth Century), and on religion for Part II HAP.

Other Professional Activities

I have been a convener of the World History Workshop (2017-18), as part of which role I helped organize a graduate conference in May 2018. I am also a graduate research associate of the Cambridge Institute on Religion and International Studies, and for three years was on the editorial team for the Cambridge graduate public history blog, Doing History in Public.


  • Imperial History
  • American History

Key Publications

  • ‘Islanders, Protestant Missionaries, and Traditions Regarding the Past in Nineteenth-Century Polynesia’, Historical Journal, Vol. 60, No. 1 (March 2017), pp. 71-94

Other Publications

Book Reviews

  • ‘Joy Schulz, Hawaiian By Birth: Missionary Children, Bicultural Identity, and U.S. Colonialism in the Pacific’, American Nineteenth Century History, Vol. 19, No. 3 (September 2018), pp. 321-323
  • ‘Victor Román Mendoza, Metroimperial Intimacies: Fantasy, Racial-Sexual Governance, and the Philippines in U.S. Imperialism, 1899-1913’, History, Vol. 102, No. 350 (April 2017), pp. 340-342