Professor Kiernan obtained his Ph.D. from Monash University, Australia, in 1983. He is the author of Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur (2007), which won the 2008 gold medal for the best work of history awarded by the Independent Publishers association, and the U.S. German Studies Association’s 2009 Sybil Halpern Milton Memorial Book Prize for the best book published in 2007-2008 dealing with Nazi Germany and the Holocaust in its broadest context, covering the fields of history, political science, and other social sciences, literature, art, and photography. In June 2009, the book’s German translation, Erde und Blut: Völkermord und Vernichtung von der Antike bis heute, won first place in Germany’s Nonfiction Book of the Month Prize Die Sachbücher des Monats, sponsored by Süddeutsche Zeitung and NDR Kultur. Kiernan’s work is featured in Fifty Key Thinkers on the Holocaust and Genocide (2011) and in Southeast Asia: Essential Readings (2006, 2013). His other awards include the Critical Asian Studies Prize for 2002, and an Honourable Mention in the “One of a Kind” category of the Canadian National Magazine Awards, for his 2006 co-authored article “Bombs over Cambodia.” Kiernan was also the recipient of the 2018 Inspiring Yale Award for the Yale School of Graduate Studies – Humanities, “for being an inspiration to the Yale University student body in and out of the class room.” Graduate students in the Humanities selected him for the award, presented at the 4th annual Inspiring Yale event on April 11, 2018. Kiernan was the subject of a full-page feature article in the “Ideas” section of the Paris daily Le Monde, published on September 1, 2018, under the heading, “Le Cambodge dans la peau” (Cambodia under his skin).
His most recent book is Việt Nam: A History from Earliest Times to the Present (2017), which was selected for “Review of the Month” in the Australian Book Review in June-July of 2017. Foreign Affairs described the book as “pathbreaking not only in its chronological scope (from prehistory to the present) and the breadth of its sources but also in its thematic reach.” London’s Times Literary Supplement called it “excellent… Kiernan’s dispassionate recording of the behaviour of the regional powers – Champa, Cambodia, China, India – should help to make Viet Nam: A history from earliest times a durable work” (March 7, 2018). Australia’s Asian Studies Review (Sept. 2018) found the book “comprehensive yet readable” and predicted that it “is certain to become a classic in Vietnamese studies.” Reviewer Michael Vann added: “Kiernan’s repeated discussion of Vietnamese history’s relationship to water is perhaps his most original contribution… He is a gifted writer and his prose is engaging.” In the U.S. Journal of Asian Studies (Feb. 2019), C. Michele Thompson cited the book’s “clear, well-written overview of the major individuals, families, social groups, institutions, and states of the north,” while noting that “information on the ‘other’ peoples of Vietnam—their political entities, their relations with the dynasties of the north, and elements of their culture and religion that became incorporated into mainstream Việt culture—is presented in every single chapter … This is the most unusual and the most original contribution of this book.”
Kiernan is also the author of How Pol Pot Came to Power: Colonialism, Nationalism, and Communism in Cambodia, 1930-1975 (1985, 2004), which was Asiaweek “Editor’s Pick of the Month”; Cambodia: The Eastern Zone Massacres (1986); The Pol Pot Regime: Race, Power and Genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, 1975-1979 (1996, 2002, 2008), which is listed among The 100 Greatest Southeast Asian History and Politics Books (ListMuse); Le Génocide au Cambodge, 1975-1979: Race, idéologie, et pouvoir (1998); and Genocide and Resistance in Southeast Asia: Documentation, Denial and Justice in Cambodia and East Timor (2007). He is the co-author of Khmers Rouges ! Matériaux pour l’histoire du communisme au Cambodge (1981), Peasants and Politics in Kampuchea, 1942-1981 (1982), and Cambodge: Histoire et enjeux (1986), and has published numerous articles on Southeast Asia and the history of genocide. He is a member of the editorial board of Critical Asian Studies.
He was founding Director of the Cambodian Genocide Program (1994-99; 2001-present) and Convenor of the Yale East Timor Project (2000-02). Kiernan’s edited collection Conflict and Change in Cambodia, which won the 2002 Critical Asian Studies Prize, was republished as a book in 2006. He is also the editor of Genocide and Democracy in Cambodia: The Khmer Rouge, the United Nations, and the International Community (1993), and Burchett: Reporting the Other Side of the World, 1939-1983 (1986), and co-editor of Political Violence in Southeast Asia since 1945: Case Studies from Six Countries (2021), Revolution and Its Aftermath in Kampuchea (1983), Pol Pot Plans the Future: Confidential Leadership Documents from Democratic Kampuchea, 1976-1977 (1988), and The Specter of Genocide: Mass Murder in Historical Perspective (2003).
In 1990 Kiernan moved to Yale University from the University of Wollongong, Australia. As director of the Cambodian Genocide Program (CGP), Prof. Kiernan received approximately $2 million in grants to document the crimes of the Pol Pot regime, to establish the Documentation Center of Cambodia in Phnom Penh, and to recruit, fund, equip and train its Cambodian staff. Under his direction the CGP’s extensive multilingual website won multiple internet awards. Prof. Kiernan has also received numerous other grants, honors, and fellowships, including a Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation Research Award; a Professorial Fellowship at the University of Melbourne; the Australian Research Council’s national Federation Fellowship; the Horace W. Goldsmith Fellowship at the National Humanities Center; the Inaugural S.T. Lee Visiting Fellowship, University of Sydney; Camargo Foundation Fellowships in Cassis, France; Visiting Fellowships at the Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin; the Jan Randa Visiting Fellowship at the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation, Monash University; an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship; a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Fellowship; a Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship at the Liguria Study Center for the Arts and Humanities; a Fellowship at the Davis Center for Historical Studies, Princeton University; and the 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award from the Faculty of Arts, Monash University, Australia.
He has been elected a Member of the Council of the Asian Studies Association of Australia (1988-90), of the Southeast Asia Council of the U.S. Association for Asian Studies (1993-96), and of the Advisory Council of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (2007-09).
His undergraduate courses have included: Southeast Asia from Earliest Times to 1900, Southeast Asia since 1900, Vietnamese History from Earliest Times, The Vietnam War, Environmental History of Southeast Asia, and graduate seminars on the Vietnam War and on various aspects of the history of genocide.
Ewing, Cindy. The Asian Unity Project: Human Rights, Third World Solidarity, and the United Nations, 1945-1955 (2018). Co-Winner of the Arthur and Mary Wright Prize for the best doctoral dissertation in non-Western History. Shortlisted for the 2019 International Convention of Asia Scholars Prize for the Best Humanities Dissertation. Winner of the International Studies Association’s Human Rights dissertation award for 2019.
CuUnjieng, Nicole. Constructing Political Place: The International Philippine Revolution and Transnational Pan-Asianism, 1887-1912 (2016). She has published a revised version: Nicole CuUnjieng Aboitiz, Asian Place, Filipino Nation: A Global Intellectual History of the Philippine Revolution, 1887-1912 (New York, Columbia University Press, 2020).
Lowey-Ball, ShawnaKim. Liquid Market, Solid State: The Rise and Demise of the Great Global Emporium at Malacca, 1400-1650 (2015). Winner of both the Arthur and Mary Wright Prize for the best doctoral dissertation in non-Western History, and the John Addison Porter Prize, open to all Yale students, for the best written work of scholarship in any field in which it is possible, through original effort, to gather and relate facts and/or principles and to make the product of general human interest.
Ford has published a revised and updated version, Cold War Monks: Buddhism and America’s Secret Strategy in Southeast Asia (New Haven, Yale University Press, 2017). This book was shortlisted for the 2019 International Convention of Asia Scholars Prize for the Best Book in the Social Sciences.
The Hungry Steppe: Soviet Kazakhstan and the Kazakh Famine 1921-1934 (2010, History)
‘Between the Storms’: North Vietnam’s Strategy during the Second Indochina War (1955-1973) (2008, History)
The other side: Ethnic and transnational identity among Khmer-Americans in southern New England (1999, Anthropology)
Revolution, Politics and Culture in Socialist Vietnam, 1945-1965 (1996, Political Science)