University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese History
Barak Kushner teaches modern Japanese history in the Faculty of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies (formerly the Faculty of Oriental Studies) at the University of Cambridge and has a PhD in History from Princeton University. He was recently awarded a 2012 British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship which he will use to complete his book on Japanese War Crimes Trials in China. In the summer of 2008 he was a visiting scholar at Nanjing University (China) and during 2009 he was a visiting scholar at Waseda University (Japan). He was a 2008 Abe Fellow and conducted research concerning "Cold War Propaganda in East Asia and Historical Memory."
Previously, Kushner worked in the US Department of State as a political officer in East Asian affairs and taught Chinese and Japanese history at Davidson College in North Carolina, USA. As a scholar he has written on wartime Japanese and Chinese propaganda, Japanese media, Sino-Japanese relations, Asian comedy, food history, BC class war crimes, and the Cold War.
The Thought War, Kushner's first book, delves into the history of wartime Japanese propaganda. His second book, entitled Slurp! A culinary and social history of ramen - Japan's favorite noodle soup, (published by Brill/Global Oriental, 2012) focuses on food and history. He is also working on a third book that analyzes the postwar adjudication of Japanese war crimes in China, tentatively titled, "Men to Devils and Devils to Men": Japanese War Crimes and Cold War Sino-Japan Relations (1945-1965).
Kushner's academic articles have appeared in Journal of Contemporary History, Diplomatic History, The International History Review, Japanese Studies, Journal of Popular Culture, and the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television. He also has published book chapters in edited volumes dealing with: a postwar media history of Godzilla, kamishibai and children's wartime propaganda in Japan, the Chinese influence on Taisho notions of modern cuisine in Japan, Japan's 1940 Olympic plans, and other topics.
Dr. Kushner received his BA from Brandeis University and then began his career as a high school teacher of social studies in Chicago. Later, he traveled to Iwate, Japan where he taught English, lived in a Buddhist temple, and attended Japanese elementary school, studying Japanese along with other students ages 6-12. He lived in Japan for over 5 years in Tokyo, Yokohama and Iwate and studied at Rikkyo University and Tokyo University. After completing courses in advanced Japanese, Kushner was an editor/translator at the National Institute for Research Advancement, a think tank in Tokyo. He taught western history at Shenyang Teacher's University in the north of China where he also studied Chinese and began research in Chinese history. After returning to the United States he attended graduate school at Princeton University and received a PhD in Asian history.