Postdoctoral Fellowships (Research Associate): modern Japanese/East Asian History “The Dissolution of the Japanese Empire and the Struggle for Legitimacy in Postwar East Asia, 1945-1965”

Institution: University of Cambridge, Department of East Asian Studies/Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
Location:   United Kingdom
Position:   Two Postdoctoral Fellowships (Research Associate) in modern Japanese/East Asian History for three year contract

Two Postdoctoral Fellowships (Research Associate) in modern Japanese/East Asian History for three year contract

Salary: grade 7, GBP 27,578-35,938 pa, plus some funding for short-term research trips to East Asia
Start Date: to start after 1 March 2013
Limit of Tenure applies
Quote Reference: GUAG050

Applicants are invited to apply for two fixed-term full-time posts (three years) of Research Associates to the project, The Dissolution of the Japanese Empire and the Struggle for Legitimacy in Postwar East Asia, 1945-1965. This project is funded by the European Research Council (ERC).

Full details of the posts can be seen online at:

Applicants are encouraged to get in touch ahead of time with the project director:

Dr Barak Kushner (

Duties: The postdoctoral researchers will examine East Asian relations concerning the dissolution of the Japanese empire and war crimes, widely defined. Each researcher will mainly focus on collecting, organizing and analyzing Chinese, Japanese or Korean related archives dealing with this topic. They will also examine relevant published texts and secondary research in related languages and any appropriate bibliographical references.  Researchers will be expected to work toward producing their own monograph within their contract time and perhaps an additional peer-reviewed article. In addition to their own research, researchers will be required to assist in the administration of the project, especially with regard to organizing an international workshop and editing its proceedings. The topic of the first international conference will be the Breakdown of Empire and Legitimacy in East Asia.  Light teaching of up to one class or supervisions may be required as well.

Requirements: Research associates should have completed their PhDs, submitted their thesis and had their viva (if necessary) by the time they arrive at Cambridge for the start of their position. A demonstrable commitment to the aims of the project and genuine enthusiasm in such research will also be essential, as will the ability to work effectively as part of a team as well as on individual initiative.  Research associates will be expected to have thorough knowledge of at least one East Asian language, and score at least a 7 on the IELTS English language proficiency exam, or the equivalent.

Application deadline:1 February 2013

Interviews to take place week commencing 18 February 2013

Limit of Tenure: three years

Application Process: Applications comprising a full CV, a CHRIS/6 application form with the names and contact details of two referees, should be sent to the Faculty Administrator, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge, Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge CB3 9DA, email: Application forms and further particulars can be found on the Facultys website:

Researchers with the following interests, as they relate to the dissolution of the Japanese empire and postwar legal issues, are encouraged to apply but related topics will also be considered:

1. Korea-Japan relations
2. Sino-Korea relations
3. Taiwan-Japan
4. Sino-Japan relations

Details about the Project:

This five-year ERC funded project aims to understand how political rule and legal authority were redrafted in postwar East Asia after the Japanese surrender in 1945. The research will shed light on the social and political transformations that continue to have deep resonance in our world in the form of East Asia’s regional alliances and Japan’s relations with its closest neighbors China, North and South Korea, and Taiwan. The renovation of East Asia after the fall of the Japanese empire has mainly been written from a western perspective, owing to the preponderance of postwar American scholarship and its political dominance. Even with the economic rise and growing importance of modern China, the regions understanding of its own past and its internal dynamics remain deeply rooted to the contours of the manner in which World War II ended. With new access to East Asian archives fresh approaches to this history are now possible. This narrative is linked to the process of how Japanese imperial rule was judged at the local level through war crimes trials and the pursuit of justice against imperial supporters. The search for war criminals, collaborators or suspected traitors offered a means to resolve the upturned former imperial hierarchies, dealing with grudges and finding justice for committed atrocities. Such moves demonstrated that the new authorities were just, a crucial element to bolster domestic and international mobilization campaigns for support. This research makes clear that Japan’s sudden surrender in no way signified that the country would immediately disavow its extensive imperial ideology; such a move would require a long time to inculcate. This was a critical turning point in China and Korea where communist forces quickly carved out new spheres of influence to struggle against what was believed to be the imposition of a new imperial force the United States. The legal restructuring of East Asia and Japan’s relations with its neighbors played a vital function in redressing former imperial relations in the early Cold War. The legal investigations and trials were the very definition of international law, a relatively new concept itself, especially in East Asia. The systems adjudicated public guilt and delineated who was Japanese, Chinese, and Korean a seemingly easy task rendered much more cumbersome because empire often blurred ethnic and national barriers that sprang back with force following Japans abrupt surrender. The legacy of these issues weighs heavily even today because it provided a new vocabulary to East Asia polities to consider the manner in which Japanese imperialism would be replaced and adjudicated in the postwar.


Applicants are encouraged to get in touch ahead of time with the project director:
Dr Barak Kushner (

About Paula

Paula lives in the vortex of academic life. She studies medieval Japanese history.
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