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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

East Asian Studies
Professor of East Asian History
Email address: 
+44 (0)1223 335174
Fellow of: 
Corpus Christi College
Director of Studies at: 
Corpus Christi College


*Will be on sabbatical for the academic year 2024-25*


Prof. 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. On and off he lived in Japan for about 7 years - in Tokyo, Yokohama and Iwate, at times studying at Rikkyo University and Tokyo University. After completing courses in advanced Japanese, Prof. 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, did more Chinese language training in Taipei, Taiwan and then received a PhD in history. 

Teaching responsibilities: 

Prof. Kushner teaches undergraduate courses relating to modern East Asian history.

Supervision information: 

Prof. Kushner is pleased to supervise graduate students interested in imperial and postwar Japanese history, 20th century Japan-Taiwan, as well as Sino-Japanese relations, the history of the Cold War in East Asia, and history of war crimes in East Asia.

Research interests: 

Barak Kushner has written three monographs: Men to Devils, Devils to Men: Japanese War Crimes and Chinese Justice (Harvard University Press, 2015), winner of the American Historical Association's 2016 John K. Fairbank Prize; Slurp! A culinary and social history of ramen - Japan's favorite noodle soup (Brill, 2012), awarded the 2013 Sophie Coe Prize for Food History; and The Thought War - Japanese Imperial Propaganda (Hawaii 2006).

In March 2013 he launched a 6-year European Research Council funded project, “The Dissolution of the Japanese Empire and the Struggle for Legitimacy in Postwar East Asia, 1945–1965.” This project examines the impact of the fall of the Japanese empire in East Asia. He also recently finished a large translation project, with 6 graduate students, of a book which examines the intersection of media, history and politics entitled Media, Propaganda and Politics in 20th-Century Japan. As a scholar he has written on wartime Japanese and Chinese propaganda, Japanese media, Sino-Japanese relations, humor, food history, BC class war crimes, and the Cold War. Currently, he is working on a monograph concerning postwar East Asian history, and a second volume about war crimes in East Asia, tentatively entitled The Construction of Justice in East Asia and the Search for Legitimacy. 

Current PhD students

Rashaad Eshack: Japanese migrant, Nikkei, diasporic identity in the Americas
On I Lam: Sewing the Red Flag: The Inter-Party Relationship between the Chinese Communist Party and the Japanese Communist Party (1950-1958).
Ko-Hang Liao: Rethinking Defeat: Japan, Chiang Kai-shek and the 'White Group' in Taiwan, 1949-1969
Reyhan Silingar: Mobilising Monarchy: Emperor Hirohito and Japan’s Imperial House Diplomacy, 1921-1975
Sheung Chun Jonathan Yeung: Sino-Japanese interactions in the context of early 20th-century Chinese students in Japan
Mariah Zhong: The “Asia Problem” in Postwar East Asia: Negotiating Postimperial Boundaries between Japan, PRC/China and ROC/Taiwan

Articles, Book Chapters etc

Justice in the Time of Cholera Asia-Pacific Journal/Japan Focus, Volume 22 | Issue 3 | Number 3 pp. 1-11 (2024)
「戦争・ホロコストと帝国・植民地支配表像をめぐるメディアの正義と和解〜ヨーロッパとアジアをまたぐ複眼的視座を求めて」 浅野豊美編集『和解学, volume 6 - 想起する文化をめぐる記憶の軋轢』 pp. 317-349 (2023)
The Real Manchurian Candidates: Chinese war criminals in the postwar, prisoners of history International Journal of Asian Studies, 20(1), (January 2023) pp. 19-37 (2023)
「ヨーロッパから見た東アジア歴史問題の起源」 『和解学の試み』 浅野豊美編集 (ed.) pp. 259-285 (2021)
「繫往於今―重思東亞戰罪審判的歷史遺緒,」” (new introduction for the traditional Chinese translation of Men to Devils) 『從人到,從鬼到人:日本戰犯與中國的審判』 pp. 17-34 (2021)
Anchors of History: The Long Shadow of Imperial Japanese Propaganda Dr Kaoru Ueda (ed.) Fanning the Flames: Propaganda in Modern Japan (2021)
Introduction: The Search for Meaning in Defeat and Victory Professor Barak Kushner (ed.) & Dr Andrew Levidis (ed.) In the Ruins of the Japanese Empire: Imperial Violence, State Destruction, and the Reordering of Modern East Asia pp. 1 - 24 (2020)
〈處理戰後的勝利:國民黨、日本與共產黨對於正義的立場〉, 陳冠任(譯) 《國立政治大學歷史學報》第50 pp. 143-174 (2018)
「日本語版への序」(new introduction for the Japanese translation) in バラク・クシュナー(幾島幸子 翻訳)『ラーメンの歴史学--ホットな国民食からクールな世界食へ』 『ラーメンの歴史学--ホットな国民食からクールな世界食へ』 pp. 3-13 (2018)
法律與帝國—對日關係中「正義」的掙扎(1944-1947) 黃自進 (ed.) & 潘光哲 (ed.) 《中日戰爭和東亞變局》下冊 pp. 331-364 (2018)
Japan’s war of words with the world: WWII propaganda in the international arena Sven Saaler and Christopher W.A. Szpilman (ed.) Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese History pp. 251-263 (2018)
合法性と帝国──台湾を事例とした日中関係における「正義」をめぐる戦い 中国21, vol. 45 pp. 81-105 (2017)
戦後中国における日本人戦犯裁判の戦い〜正義とその正当性 国際研究教育機構研究年報(学習院大学)第3号2017年 pp. 5-17 (2017)
The question of complicity: Japan’s early postures toward war crimes and war responsibility in the aftermath of the Second World War Kerstin von Lingen (ed.) Debating Collaboration and Complicity in War Crimes Trials in Asia, 1945-1956 pp. 151-176 (2017)
Heroes, victims, and the quest for peace: war monuments and the contradictions of Japan’s post-imperial commemoration Dominik Geppert and Frank Mueller (ed.) Sites of Imperial Memory: Commemorating colonial rule in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (2015)
Empire's Little Helpers: Juvenile Delinquents and the State in East Asia, 1880-1945 Heather Ellis (ed.) Juvenile Delinquency and the Limits of Western Influence, 1850-2000 pp. 145-170 (2014)
Chinese War Crimes Trials of Japanese, 1945-1956: a Historical Summary Morten Bergsmo, Cheah Wui Ling and Yi Ping (ed.) The Historical Origins of International Criminal Law: Volume 2 pp. 243-265 (2014)
Ghosts of the Japanese Imperial Army: The ‘White Group’ (Baituan) and Early Post-war Sino-Japanese Relations Past & Present, Volume 218, Issue suppl_8 pp. 117–150 (2013)
Unwarranted attention: the image of Japan in twentieth century Chinese humour Jessica Davis and Jocelyn Chey (ed.) Humour in Chinese Life and Culture: Resistance and Control in Modern Times pp. 47-80 (2013)
Going for the Gold - Health and Sports in Japan's Quest for Modernity William Tsutsui and Michael Baskett (ed.) The East Asian Olympiads, 1934–2008: Building Bodies and Nations in Japan, Korea, and China (2011)
Sweetness and Empire: Sugar Consumption in Imperial Japan Janet Hunter and Penelope Francks (ed.) The Historical Consumer: Consumption and Everyday Life in Japan, 1850-2000 pp. 127-150 (2011)
Pawns of Empire: Postwar Taiwan, Japan and the Dilemma of War Crimes Japanese Studies, (Special issue on Japan and Taiwan), Vol. 30, No. 1 pp. 111-133 (2010)
Treacherous Allies: The Cold War in East Asia and American Postwar Anxiety Journal of Contemporary History, Volume 45 Issue 4 pp. 812-843 (2010)
Imperial Cuisines in Taisho Foodways Eric Rath and Stephanie Assmann (ed.) Japanese Foodways, Past and Present pp. 145-165 (2010)
Planes, Trains and Games: Selling Japan’s War in Asia Jennifer Purtle and Hans Bjarne Thomsen (ed.) Looking Modern: East Asian Visual Culture from Treaty Ports to World War II pp. 243-264 (2009)
Nationality and Nostalgia: The Manipulation of Memory in Japan, Taiwan, and China since 1990 XXIX.4: The International History Review pp. 793-820 (2007)
Gojira as Japan's First Postwar Media Event William Tsutsui (ed.) In Godzilla's Footsteps : Japanese Pop Culture Icons on the Global Stage pp. 41-51 (2006)
Digesting Postwar Japanese Media: American Propaganda in Occupied Japan Diplomatic History, Volume 29, Number 1 pp. 27-48 (2005)
Laughter as Matériel: The Mobilization of Comedy in Japan’s Fifteen-Year War The International History Review, volume xxvi, 2 pp. 300-330 (2004)
Negro Propaganda Operations': Japan's short-wave radio information broadcasts for World War II Black Americans Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 19(1) pp. 5-26 (1999)
Cannibalizing Japanese Media - The Case of Issei Sagawa Journal of Popular Culture, vol. 31:3 pp. 55-68 (1997)