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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies


Global Humanities Workshop, 2-4 June 2022

  1. Project Summary

  2. Conference Agenda

  3. Presenter Bios

This project proposes fresh analyses for approaching modern East Asian Studies in light of recent calls within UK academia to decolonize the humanities. Decolonisation is the most recent permutation in a series of academic turns since the heightened globalisation of the 1990s. This began with the rise of Postcolonial Studies followed by a desire to displace the category of the ‘nation’ by foregrounding their discussions in terms of ‘transnational’ connections and the ‘world’. Although emerging initially within Faculties of English and Comparative Literary Studies, the last decade has seen scholars within Japanese literary studies, too, foregrounding contemporary writers who transgress national and linguistic borders through their multilingual writing practices. The presumption of this scholarly excitement is that through writers able to self-translate their work into other languages than Japanese, Japanese fiction might reach new international readerships and thus gain added value in the world. Its shortcomings are twofold: first, the motive to internationalise Japanese literature and culture has, also since the 1990s, been deeply rooted in promoting national interests, particularly in Europe and the US; second, the promotion of contemporary ‘transborder’ fiction as a new development has resulted in de-emphasising continuities between this recent generation and those writers who worked under the direct conditions and/or explicit historical legacies of Japanese imperialism in East Asia. As if to reinforce this point, as the shift towards ‘transborder’ fiction in Japan has been accompanied by scholars proclaiming the ‘end’ of ethnic Korean writing in Japanese, Korean literary studies have begun to embrace the latter despite considering such fiction as ‘Japanese literature’ until the late-1990s.


The challenge as we see it is to restore a historical dimension into contemporary discussions of decolonisation and transnationalism in East Asia that take their lead from movements—of people and texts—between geographical settings and languages in the present, and thus seem forgetful of differences, tensions and power imbalances that remain within East Asia, and between Asia and the rest of the world. We therefore seek to correlate more of the domestic histories of Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan, against a regional and international backdrop to ascertain a more holistic narrative of what the history of deimperialisation and decolonisation looks like when one does not presume a Eurocentric and/or Anglophone point of departure. To this end, this workshop, devised by Dr Vicky Young together with Professor Barak Kushner, will bring together historians and literary scholars working on texts and contexts related to post-1945 East Asia, to read across gaps between historical and literary scholarship and to devise more productive ways of interrogating the lines—geographical and theoretical— that demarcate our fields.

This workshop has been generously funded by a Cambridge Global Humanities grant.


Conference Agenda

June 2 (Thurs)

15.00, Arrival in Cambridge

19.00, Dinner


June 3 (Fri)

09.00-09.50, Coffee & breakfast items in AMES


**09.50-10.00, Welcome and opening remarks (Barak and Vicky)


10.00-11.00, Session 1 - Decolonizing China 

15-minute presentations

Jeremy Taylor

Heather Inwood

Xiaofan Amy Li

Adam Cathcart 


*Group discussion: 11.00-12.00


**12.00-13.30, Lunch 


13.30-14.30, Session 2 – Decolonizing Korea

15-minute presentations

Nayoung Aimee Kwon

Deokhyo Choi

Nuri Kim 

Chris Hanscom


*Group discussion: 14.30-15.30


**15.30-15.45, Break


15.45-16.45, Session 3, Decolonizing Taiwan

15-minute presentations

Sugano Atsushi  

Hiroko Matsuda

Victor Louzon

Po-Hsi Chen


*Group discussion 16.45-17.45


**17.45-18.45, Drinks and mingle time in AMES, then walk over to Selwyn


- 19.00, Formal dinner at Selwyn College


June 4 (Sat)

- 09.15am-10.00, Coffee & breakfast items in AMES


10.00-10.45, Session 4 - Decolonizing Japan

15-minute presentations

Michael Lucken

Barak Kushner

Vicky Young


*Group discussion, 10.45-11.30


11.30-12.15, Commentary from PhD students in the field


12.15-13.00, Wrap-up discussion and closing remarks

Presenter Bios

  1. Adam Cathcart is a Lecturer in Chinese history at the University of Leeds, where he teaches modules on the history of the People’s Republic of China, the international history of the Korean War, and Sino-Japanese conflict. His most recent book is Decoding the Sino-North Korean Borderlands, co-edited with Christopher Green and Steven Denney (Amsterdam University Press, 2021). At Leeds, he supervises PhD dissertations on rural economy in early-PRC Chongqing, Sino-Korean relations during the Cold War, and Japanese war crimes trials in Asia. He is a regular contributor for think tank reports and foreign policy audiences. His forthcoming chapter, titled 'From Liberation to the Great Leap Forward: Ethnic Koreans and Assimilation in Yanbian, 1945-1962’ will be published by Liverpool University Press next year, and is available on his website,
  2. Po-hsi Chen is currently a Post-Doctoral Fellow in Taiwan Studies at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge. His research interests include Taiwan studies, modern and contemporary Chinese literature, the cultural Cold War, and global leftism.
  3. Deokhyo Choi is a Lecturer in Korean Studies at the University of Sheffield and specializes in the history of modern Korea-Japan relations. Before joining the University of Sheffield in July 2018, he worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Cambridge and the Research Institute of Korean Studies, Korea University. His research interests include postcolonial human migrations, the Cold War, and the history of zainichi Koreans. He has published numerous articles in three languages (English, Japanese, and Korean), and his recent article, "The Empire Strikes Back from Within: Colonial Liberation and the Korean Minority Question at the Birth of Postwar Japan, 1945-1947," was published in the American Historical Review (June 2021). 
  4. Chris Hanscom is an Associate Professor in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at UCLA, where he teaches courses on Korean literature and film. He is the author of The Real Modern: Literary Modernism and the Crisis of Representation in Colonial Korea (Harvard, 2013), a study of theories of language and modernist fiction in 1930s colonial Korea; co-editor of The Affect of Difference: Representations of Race in East Asian Empire (Hawai'i, 2016), a collection of essays offering a new perspective on the history of race and racial ideologies in modern East Asia; and co-editor of Imperatives of Culture: Selected Essays on Korean History, Literature, and Society from the Japanese Colonial Era (Hawai'i, 2013), a collection of translations of major literary critical and historical essays from the Korean colonial period.  His current project focuses on the politics of literature in contemporary Korean fiction.
  5. Heather Inwood is Associate Professor of Modern Chinese Literature and Culture at the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of Trinity Hall. Her research focuses on interactions between literature, popular culture and digital media in contemporary China. She is the author of Verse Going Viral: China’s New Media Scenes, and is currently working on a book on Chinese internet fiction. She is also co-editor of The British Journal of Chinese Studies.
  6. Nuri Kim is an Assistant Professor in Korean Studies at the University of Cambridge. Trained as a historian of modern Korea, Nuri is interested in the history of historiography, knowledge, and new religious movements. His current research focuses on conflicts surrounding epistemological authority as well as the legitimization and delegitimization of various forms of knowledge regimes in modern Korea.
  7. Nayoung Aimee Kwon is Associate Professor in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and the Program in Cinematic Arts at Duke University. She is Founding Director of the Asian American and Diaspora Studies Program and the Andrew Mellon Games and Culture Humanities Lab. Her current research examines the legacies of global colonialism through Asian and transpacific cultural histories. Publications include Theorizing Colonial Cinema: Reframing Production, Circulation, and Consumption of Film in Asia (with Takushi Odagiri and Moonim Baek), “Japanophone Literature: A Transpacific Query on Absence” (Modern Fiction Studies), Intimate Empire: Collaboration and Colonial Modernity in Korea and Japan and Transcolonial Film Coproductions in the Japanese Empire: Antinomies in the Colonial Archive (with Takashi Fujitani)
  8. Xiaofan Amy Li is Lecturer in Comparative Cultural Studies at UCL. She earned her PhD in French at Queens' College, Cambridge, focusing on Sino-French literary comparisons. Her research spans 20C-contemporary French/Francophone and Chinese/Sinophone literatures and cultures, examining issues such as translation, comparative poetics, and cultural representations. Her recent research topics include East Asian Francophone writers, queer masquerade in Qiu Miaojin and Yukio Mishima, and the relation between Hong Kong literature and World Literature.
  9. Victor Louzon is Assistant Professor in History at Sorbonne University, Paris. His research focuses on militarization and political violence in the modern Sinophone world, with a focus on zones of contact between China and the Japanese Empire. His first book, The February 28 Incident in Taiwan, Last Battle of the Sino-Japanese War? is forthcoming with the Éditions de l'EHESS, Paris.
  10. Michael Lucken is Professor of Japanese studies at the French National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations (Inalco). He is teaching and studying intellectual history and visual culture. His main books are L’Art du Japon au vingtième siècle: pensées, formes, résistances (Twentieth Century Japanese Art: Thought, Forms and Resistances), 2001; Les Japonais et la guerre 1937-1952 (The Japanese and the War 1935-1952), 2013; Nakai Masakazu. Naissance de la théorie critique au Japon (Nakai Masakazu. The birth of critical theory in Japan), 2015; Imitation and Creativity in Japanese Arts from Kishida Ryūsei to Miyazaki Hayao, 2016; and Le Japon grec. Culture et possession (Greek Japan. Culture and possession), 2019. Some of his books are translated in English and Japanese. He has received several awards for his academic achievements among which Académie française–Thiers Prize (2014) and Blois History Festival Prize (2019).
  11. Hiroko Matsuda is Professor at the Faculty of Contemporary Social Studies of Kobe Gakuin University, Japan. She received her doctoral degree from the Australian National University. She is the author of Liminality of the Japanese Empire: Border Crossings from Okinawa to Colonial Taiwan (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2019), Okinawa no shokuminchiteki kindai: Taiwan he watatta hitobito no teikokushugiteki kyaria [Okinawa’s Colonial Modernity: Imperial Careering of Immigrants to Taiwan] (Sekaishisosha, 2021) and the co-editor of Rethinking Postwar Okinawa: Beyond American Occupation (Lexington Books, 2017). She is currently working on two projects: (1) pacifism and militarization of Japan during the Cold War era, and (2) legacies of Japanese colonialism in Taiwan.
  12. Atsushi Sugano is a Professor at the Faculty of International Studies, Kyoritsu Women’s University, Tokyo, Japan. He was Vice-President of the Japan Society for Intercultural Studies (2019-2022). His area of research is the Contemporary History of Taiwan. In addition to published research papers, he has authored several books, including Taiwan no Kokka to Bunka [The Nation and Culture of Taiwan] (Tokyo: Keiso Shobo, 2011) and Taiwan no Gengo to Moji [The Language and Characters of Taiwan] (Tokyo: Keiso Shobo, 2012). He was awarded the Azusa Ono Memorial Award by Waseda University in 2002, the 3rd Award by the Japan Association for Taiwan Studies in 2005, and the 33rd Award for the Promotion of Studies on Developing Countries by JETRO-IDE in 2012. He received his PhD at the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific (GSAPS), Waseda University, in 2007, and MA in 2001. He received his BA from Sophia University in 1998.
  13. Jeremy E. Taylor is Professor of Modern History at the University of Nottingham (UK). He is the author of over thirty peer-reviewed journal articles and is the author or editor of six books, including Iconographies of Occupation: Visual Cultures in Wang Jingwei’s China, 1939–1945 (University of Hawaii Press, 2021) and (with Lanjun Xu) Chineseness and the Cold War: Contested Cultures and Diaspora in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong (Routledge, 2021). His work has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Academy, the European Research Council and other bodies.