The Scholar’s Stage is a place to discuss the intersections of history, politics, culture, behavioral science, and strategic thought—often with a focus on East and Southeast Asian affairs.
This site began more than ten years ago as a simple web-blog. It has since expanded to include a web forum and podcast. I once described the ambitions behind The Scholar’s Stage with these words:
In a media environment that favors the short and trendy, the essays here trend long and reflective. They cover a strange array of topics: one month it is political psychology, the next ancient Greek literature. One day I look at the workings of the Chinese Communist Party; the next I might peer into the rhetoric of American culture wars. It is not unusual to see passages of poetry and passages lifted from scientific journals quoted in the same post. The Scholar’s Stage is devoted to that older sort of inquiry. It unabashedly seeks to marry science with style, current news with ancient history, and deep research with good writing.
Not everything I write measures up to such lofty goals, but the popularity of this site suggests that at least some of it does. If you would like to explore the many topics I write about here, you can find a full index of every post I have written, organized by category, here (those new to Scholar’s Stage might instead look to this list of my biggest hits).
The Scholar’s Stage podcast takes the spirit of this site to the audio realm. Episodes are centered around a book or article whose ideas may change your mind—and occasionally, your life. This is not a “discuss your latest book” sort of podcast. The scholars, soldiers, adventurers, investors, journalists, poets, and politicos I bring on to the show do not come discuss the works they have made, but the works that have made them. The Scholar’s Stage podcast will be available at all the usual places, and you will be able to find a list of episodes and their shownotes here. Copies of each episodes’ transcripts are also available to paying site members.
Over time this site has built up a top-notch set of readers. I encourage you to become one. You might be the next person to have their thoughts in a comment thread or forum discussion elevated into a proper post! Anyone who writes in good faith is welcome to comment on Scholar’s Stage posts. The forum, however, is reserved for paying members. Many of the essays published on this site are the result of hours of research, writing, and rewriting; they often show a sharp attention to both style and sourcing. The forum is not for that sort of thing. It is for what a past, naiver version of myself used to post on twitter: ideas that I am still fleshing out, ‘hot takes’ on recent news items or articles, and questions for the broader readership. Some, though not all, of this material will eventually make it to the Scholar’s Stage frontpage. If you would like to take part in less formal and more freewheeling discussions, the Scholar’s Stage forum is for you. To join, see the Support My Writing page.