The Chinese University of Hong Kong Department of History Department of History
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Assistant Professor, Department of History, The Chinese University of Hong Kong


Address: Room 129, Fung King Hey Building
Phone: (852) 3943 7116

Ian Morley is an Assistant Professor of Urban History in the Department of History, and Assistant Professor (by Courtesy) on CUHK’s Urban Studies Programme.

He has published widely on the design of built environments during the late-1800s and early-1900s. Prof. Morley has also participated in television documentaries for The Discovery Channel and Voom!, as well as been interviewed by The Wall Street Journal Asia, The Los Angeles Times, Southeast Asia Globe, La Stampa and the US’ National Public Radio (about British colonial architecture in Yangon, Myanmar). In addition he has been interviewed by Hong Kong News and Al Jazeera about Philippine urban history.

From 2009 to 2014 he was the Book Review Editor for Urban Morphology: Journal of the International Seminar on Urban Form. He currently is an editorial board member of the journal Planning Perspectives as well as a council member of the International Planning History Society. He has been a Visiting Fellow at the University of Sydney and University College Dublin, and in 2012 was a Visiting Scholar on the urbanism programme held by the Universidade Estudual de Maringá and Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in Brazil. In mid-2015 he was a Global Humanities Junior Research and Teaching Fellow at the Free University in Berlin, Germany. He was also in mid-2015 an awardee of the CUHK Faculty of Arts Humanities Fellowship Scheme.

He is the recipient of the 2010, 2011, and 2014 History Department Teaching Award. In 2010, 2011, and 2015 he was also awarded the Faculty of Arts Outstanding Teaching Award. In 2014 he was a successful applicant to CUHK’s International Partnership Development Programme and Short-Term Faculty Exchange Programme (both undertaken at Brown University, USA). He currently holds two General Research Fund grants from Hong Kong’s Research Grants Council, and a CUHK Courseware Development Grant. In 2014 he was a holder of a CUHK Micro-Module Courseware Development Grant. In late-2015/early-2016 he curated an exhibition on behalf of the Department of History with the Philippine Consulate and CUHK University Library on ‘The History of the Philippines in Flags and Maps’.

Current Research

Cities and Nationhood: American Imperialism, Civic Design, and the Philippines, 1898-1916 (funded by the Research Grants Council’s General Research Fund, HK$263,657).


The aim of the study is to investigate the design of Philippine cities between 1898 and 1916, a period when significant exercises in urban planning took place.


The Treaty of Paris (1898) initiated America’s administration of the Philippines. By 1905 Manila was replanned and Baguio built as expressions of colonial sovereignty, and as symbols of a society disassociating itself from its hitherto ‘uncivilised’ state of existence. While scholars have suggested that the importation of urban design practices into the Philippines was exclusively tied to the propagation of the City Beautiful Movement, initial research by this author has explicitly linked Philippine urban design to matters of ‘modern civilisation’, ‘cultural progress’, and the promotion of nationhood. Therefore a thorough investigation is now proposed to further elucidate the meaning of urban designing in the Philippines, and to examine its dissemination with respect to colonial ideals, social advancement, and the shaping of national identity.


The inquiry considers how the redevelopment of large-sized settlements alongside the creation of a new city, Baguio, strengthened a centralised sense of nationhood, and how recourse to civic design helped to express this. It thus systematically explores how the conceptualisation and construction of ‘modern cities’ articulated America’s yearning to establish a new culture and disassociate the Philippines from its Spanish colonial past, and its image as a place inhabited by ‘savages’. Using well-established research methods to align American urban design with the evolution of Philippine society, the project shall reinterpret Philippine city development by deviating from the traditional focus on the architect and planner Daniel Burnham. Accordingly, it positions urban design alongside education, politics, and economics as social institutions that have profoundly affected the development of the Philippines as a nation.


American Imperialism and the Philippines: National Development and Filipino Architects, 1898-1941 (funded by the Research Grants Council’s General Research Fund, HK$299,000, and to be undertaken with Prof. Gerard Lico, University of the Philippines-Diliman).


The aim of this study is to investigate architectural and urban design practices as a facet of America’s colonial strategy, and to explore the role and impact of Filipino architects within the American colonial civil service.


The signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1898 instigated America’s administration of the Philippines. In the following years policies were enacted to liberate the country from its allegedly uncivilized state of being. As part the ‘advancement’ process monumental City Beautiful-inspired urban plans were executed, Classically-formed civic centres were implemented, and public buildings constructed. Composed by both American and Filipino designers these projects came to shape local society’s grasp of the ‘modern Philippine city’, a concept that ultimately reached its peak with the planning of Quezon City after World War Two. Accordingly, a thorough investigation is now proposed to explain architectural and city design practices as a component of America’s colonial policy, and to explore the role and contribution of Filipino architects within America’s colonial civil service.


The inquiry considers how the emergence of the first cohorts of Filipino architects promoted America’s reform of local society. It systematically examines the schooling of Filipino architects alongside the ‘Filipinization’ of colonial bureaucracy and the transfer of the Bureau of Public Works (BPW) into Filipino hands. Using well-established research methods to tie together colonial politics, the assimilation of Filipinos into the bureaucratic system, and the shaping of the built environment to the ‘uplifting’ of Philippine society, the project will study the evolution of the Philippines and the individuals who were configuring its built environments from a fresh and novel viewpoint.


The results of the study will provide noteworthy insights into the governmental, artistic, and environmental dynamics that existed during America’s colonization of the Philippines. The study thus will improve comprehension of the forces shaping Philippine society between the late-1890s and Japan’s invasion of the Philippines in 1941, e.g. political matters such as the Philippine Autonomy Act (1916) and the Tydings-McDuffy Act (1934), decrees providing the framework for Philippine independence.

Courses Given in 2015-16

  1. HIST2001B History and the Historian (Introductory).
  2. HIST4400C Topic Studies in World History: Trans-Pacific Connections in East Asia.

Selected Publications

[A] Books

  1. Cities and Nationhood: American Imperialism and Urban Design in the Philippines, 1898-1916 ((forthcoming in 2017 with the University of Hawaii Press).
  2. British Provincial Civic Design and the Building of Late-Victorian and Edwardian Cities, 1880-1914 (Mellen, 2008).
  3. Edited volume with Mira Crouch, Knowledge as Value: Illumination through Critical Prisms (Rodopi, 2008).

[B] Journal Articles

  1. ‘Modern Urban Designing in the Philippines, 1898-1916’, Philippine Studies: Historical and Ethnographic Viewpoints 64.1 (2016).
  2. ‘Owning the City: Civic Art’s Historical Practical and Contemporary Meaning in Yangon’, Art and the Public Sphere 2.1 (2014).
  3. ‘Philippine Connections: Canberra’s Plan and Nationhood’, Fabrications: The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand 23.1 (2013).
  4. ‘Rangoon’, Cities 31 (2013).
  5. ‘Utilizing Social Media to Know the Victorian World: A Blended Approach’, Journal of Victorian Culture 17.4 (2012).
  6. ‘The Creation of the Modern Urban Form in the Philippines’, Urban Morphology 16.1 (2012).
  7. ‘America and the Philippines: Modern Civilization and City Planning’, Education About Asia 16.2 (2011).
  8. ‘Civic Design and National Identity: The Example of Edwardian Ireland’, Planning Perspectives 26.3 (2011).
  9. ‘American Imperialism, Civic Design and the Philippines in the early-1900s’, European Journal of American Culture 29.3 (2010).
  10. ‘Revelations, Predicaments & Civic Design: The Americanisation of the British Urban Environment, c. 1900-14’, Cercles 14 (2009).
  11. ‘Representing a City and Nation: Wales’s Matchless Civic Centre’, Welsh History Review 24.3 (2009).
  12. ‘The Making and Maintenance of Cenotaphs’, Fieldwork and Documents 52 (2008).
  13. ‘Chaos, Contagion, Cholera & Chadwick’, Yale Journal of Biology & Medicine 80.2 (2007).
  14. ‘Arquitectura, Oportunismo y la Planificación del Rostro de un Imperio’ (Architecture, Opportunism and the Planning of an Imperial Face), Revista de Arquitectura 9 (2007)
  15. ‘Post-Industrial Urbanism and the Growth of Sustainability: Historical Trends, Present and Future Obervations’, The Journal of Futures Studies 9.4 (2005).

[C] Chapters in Edited Volumes

  1. ‘Yangon: Evolution, Cosmopolitanism, and the Predicament of Modernization’, forthcoming in South Asian Cities (eds. Stephen Hamnett, Dinesh Mehta, and Meera Mehta, to be published in 2017 by Routledge).
  2. ‘Transitions: The Form and Meaning of the ‘New’ Philippine City After 1898’, in Ideas of the City in Asia (eds. Henco Bekkering, Adele Esposito, and Charles Goldblum), forthcoming in 2017 with University of Amsterdam Press.
  3. ‘Place, Race, and Grand Architectural Statements: Civic Design in Early-1900s Dublin’, Visualizing Dublin: Visual Culture and the Making of Modern Dublin (ed. J. Carville), Peter Lang, 2013.
  4. ‘Asian Culture and Urbanism: Meanings and Experiences of the Evolving Built Environment’, in Writing Spaces: Travel, Global Cities and Landscapes (eds. I-C Wang, M Theis and C. Larkosh), National Sun Yat-sen University, 2013.
  5. ‘Modernizing the Urban Landscape: Architecture and the Internationalized Face of Asia’, Asian Popular Culture: Memory, City, and Celebrity (eds. L. Fitzsimmons and J. Hunt), Palgrave, 2013.
  6. ‘Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer’, Popular Controversies in World History Vol. 3 (ed. S. Danver). ABC-Clio, 2010.
  7. ‘British Slavery Abolition Act (1833)’, Milestone Documents in World History (ed. P. Finkelman), Schlager Group, 2010.
  8. ‘Abstracting the City: Urbanisation and the ‘Opening-up’ Process in China’, China in an Era of Transition: Understanding Contemporary State and Society Actors (eds. R. Hasmath and J. Hsu), Palgrave MacMillan, 2009.
  9. ‘The Impact of the Internet upon the Commodity of Knowledge and the Craft of History’, Knowledge as Value: Illumination through Critical Prism (eds. I. Morley and M. Crouch), Rodopi, 2008.
  10. ‘British History’, 21st Century History Highway: A Guide to Internet Resources (eds. D. Trinkle and S. Merriman), M.E. Sharpe Inc., 2006.
  11. ‘Mid-Atlantic Region: Architecture’, American Regional Cultures (ed. R. Marzec), Greenwood Press, 2004.

[D] Other Publications

  1. Entries published in reference works such as The Oxford Encyclopaedia of the Modern World (ed. P.N. Stearns), published by Oxford University Press in 2008, The Encyclopedia of American Urban History (ed. D. Goldfield), Sage Publications, 2006, and The Encyclopedia of the City (ed. R. Caves), Routledge Press, 2005.
  2. Articles composed on Burma, China, Hong Kong, India, and Taiwan for the online journal Architecture Week!
  3. More than 30 book reviews have been published in scholarly journals such as Planning Perspectives, Urban History, The Journal of Architecture, Context, Journal of British Studies, Urban Morphology: Journal of the International Seminar on Urban Form, Canadian Journal of History, American Historical Review and Australian Economic History Review.


  1. Editorial Board Member of Planning Perspectives (ISSN 0266-5433).
  2. Consultant to Revista de Morfologgia Urbana (ISSN 2182-7214).

Conferences and Guest Lectures

In recent years papers have been presented in Montreal and Toronto (Canada), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Surakarta (Indonesia), Manila (the Philippines), Yangon (Myanmar), Berlin (Germany), Medellín, (Colombia), Chicago and Los Angeles (USA), Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Porto (Portugal), and Vienna (Austria).

International Media

  1. ‘Man Made Marvels Asia: Taipei 101 Tower’, The Discovery Channel (2006).
  2. ‘Vertical City 2: Taipei 101, Taiwan’, Voom! (2009)
  3. ‘Myanmar Memories: The Threat to a Cache of Colonial Treasures’, The Wall Street Journal Asia, February 12 2010.
  4. ‘In Myanmar, Colonial Era Buildings Risk Demolition’, The Los Angeles Times, February 11 2011.
  5. ‘Lost in Time’, Southeast Asia Globe, April 18 2012.
  6. ‘Allarme a Yangon il “disgelo” Minaccia I Tesori Coloniali’ (Alarm in Yangon in ‘Thaw’ Threat to Colonial Treasures’), La Stampa, January 7 2013.
  7. ‘As Myanmar Modernizes, Architectural Gems are Endangered’, National Public Radio (USA), June 4 2014.