faculty

Alastair Su, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of History
805-565-6787

Office Location

Deane Hall 207

Office Available

Thursday 1:15-2:45 PM and by appointment. 

Specialization(s)

United States History, History of Capitalism

Biography/Details

Alastair Su is a historian who specializes in the political economy of early republican America. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard College in 2014 and earned his doctorate at Stanford University in 2021, where his dissertation won the Elizabeth Spilman Rosenfield Prize. His research has received awards from the American Council of Learned Societies, Business History Conference, the Organization of American Historians, and the John E. Rovensky Fellowship in Business and Economic History. 

His current book, Flowering Gold: American Capital and the Opium War (under contract with Yale University Press), is a study of the nineteenth-century American opium trade to China. It tells the story of how Thomas Handasyd Perkins and a group of Boston merchants built a commercial empire around the exportation of Turkey opium to China, known in Chinese as jin hua tu (golden flower opium), and how their involvement helped to precipitate the Opium War and unleashed a devastating financial crisis when the drug was prohibited in the spring of 1839. 

At Westmont, Dr. Su teaches seminars on capitalism, US foreign relations and the Civil War. He also teaches the US and California history surveys.