Daria Ho


Dr. Daria Ho
Daria Dahpon Ho (she/her) is a Lecturer of History specializing in transnational China & East Asia at the University of Waterloo.

I am an Asian-American and a transgender person, plus something of a “bookworm,” strategy & video game enthusiast, and amateur stargazer, martial artist, and Gō player.  I delight in exploring people and ideas on the move, as in the maritime history of the Pacific Ocean world.  As an educator, I believe that History is not something we study just for our information, but rather for our formation.  It must be creatively brought to life and practiced with good humor—it’s work, fun, and worth taking some risk.

In teaching, I have aimed to place China and East Asia in global context and engage my students in histories that span national borders and do not stop at the water’s edge.  I have taught courses on subjects ranging from Tibet to the Korean War, the Samurai, Modern China, the South China Sea, Chinese Americans, Global Disease, and East Asian modernity.  My teaching is founded on inclusive & creative learning, mutual respect, and the humanistic promotion of compassion to oppose violence and intolerance.

My research work navigates two broad “oceans,” namely (1) China’s saltwater frontiers on the southeast coast, and (2) China’s terrestrial frontiers to the far west and northeast.  These zones were transnational sites of trade, travel & migration, and conflict.  I study the multicultural peoples who labored, traded, robbed, settled, and fought their way across the western Pacific.  For example, I have written about the Qing Coastal Depopulation of 1661-1684, a brutal scorched-earth policy that devastated the lives of millions in southeast China and caused one of the largest forced migrations of the early-modern era.  Why and how would the Chinese empire burn its own shores, raze its own ports, and let its ships rot?  How did coastal people survive in new environments?

Ultimately, I seek to understand the diverse fluid populations of China and East and Southeast Asia.  Their mobile communities bravely created worlds of hybridity.  They did not simply sail across the sea; they lived on it ‘til the land came home.  Likewise, the transfrontier peoples who crossed mountains or deserts or the coldest borderlands of Tibet and Manchuria carved new lifestreams betwixt empires and nations.  As a fellow border crosser and surveyor, I look forward to sharing intellectual voyages with students & scholars at Waterloo.


  • B.A. (triple major w/ Honors) History, Economics, Asian Studies, Rice University
  • Ph.D. History, University of California, San Diego
  • Subsequent Courses: Nutrition, Statistics, Organic Chemistry & Biochemistry, Alcohol/Chemical Dependency & Human Services, Anatomy & Physiology I & II

Research and Teaching Interests

  • Modern China, East Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Maritime History
  • Migration and Borderlands
  • Tibet & the Himalayas
  • Asian-American Studies
  • Global Disease & Nutrition
  • Transnational Asian modernity
  • Cybernetics & Gaming


Documentary Film

  • Living History: Remembering the “Forgotten” Korean War  (71 minutes, 2018)
    • Director | Producer | Project Creator – An experimental documentary film about war, memory, and community in a college history classroom.  Together, I as the instructor and 33 students from 20 majors, local veterans, and others in Rochester, New York (USA) created a dynamic journey of teaching, learning, and roleplaying the history of the Korean War and its aftermath.
    • Concept Trailer (5 min.)
    • The Documentary Film

Podcast Interviews

Articles / Chapters

  • (Forthcoming) “Boil the Water: A Review of Melissa Macauley’s Distant Shores: Colonial Encounters on China’s Maritime Frontier (2021, Princeton University Press),” for the International Journal of Maritime History.
  • “Naval Rivalry in the Western Pacific: Portugal, England, Holland, and Koxinga, 1600-1720.”  In Ryan Tucker Jones and Matt K. Matsuda, eds., The Cambridge History of the Pacific Ocean, Volume 1: The Pacific Ocean to 1800 (Cambridge University Press, 2023), Chapter 29, pp. 655-674.

[Below:  published as Dahpon D. Ho ]

Awards and Honours

  • Featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Special: “Innovators: 10 Classroom Trailblazers” (2017)
  • G. Graydon and Jane W. Curtis Award for Outstanding Teaching, University of Rochester (2013)
  • Abraham J. Karp Award for Excellence in Teaching, University of Rochester (2011)
  • U.S. Fulbright Scholar to China (2007-2008)

Contact Information

Hagey Hall 114

(519) 888-4567  x41396