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Professor Naoko Shimazu

Contact details

Birkbeck, University of London
Room 3.16, 27 Russell Square, Bloomsbury
London WC1B 5DQ

Tel: 020 7631 6279

About Professor Naoko Shimazu

Research interests

  • My new major research is on the cultural history of diplomacy, focusing on the idea of ‘diplomacy as theatre’. I am interested in examining the ‘performative’ aspect of international diplomacy, by focusing on the Bandung Conference of 1955 and the rise of the newly independent Asian states as diplomatic actors in the early Cold War era. I have been awarded the British Academy Research Development Award (BARDA) in 2010 to undertake this research.
  • In 2009, I published my second monograph on the social and cultural history of Japanese society during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5. My central concern was to analyse the nature of state-society relations during the war, principally from the point of view of society and its people. I examined personal diaries and letters of conscripts in order to understand their attitudes towards war and death. I also looked at how collective war memories were constructed through war commemoration and heroic war myth.
  • My first work was in the political and international history of modern Japan, examining the racial equality proposal raised by Japan at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. I examined the negotiating positions of the Japanese, the Americans and the British Empire, bringing to light how contemporaries understood racial equality as a general principle. Currently, I am working on a new article highlighting the ‘performative’ aspect of the Japanese delegation at Paris, reflecting my new interest on the cultural history of diplomacy.
  • In addition, I am engaged in a number of international collaborative research projects. Together with Professor Paul Morris and Dr Ed Vickers of the Institute of Education, we are establishing a new research network that links Britain with East Asia (Beijing, Hong Kong, Taipei, Seoul, Singapore, Japan) under the ‘Japan and East Asia National Identities Education Network (JEANIEN)’. We examine how ‘Japan’ is constructed in educational materials in East Asia. This is funded by the Leverhulme International Networks Grant in 2010-13.
  • My interest in the imperial and colonial history of modern Japan is pursued through involvement in international research teams. Currently, I belong to the ‘Workshop on the International Impact on the Colonial Rule in Korea’ led by Professor Yong-Chool Ha (University of Washington). Previously, I was involved in a project on Colonial Taiwan, led by Dr Yuko Kikuchi (University of the Arts London) with colleagues from Taiwan and Japan.
  • I am the founding member of the Comparative Histories of Asia Seminar at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London, co-editor of Japan Forum, editorial board member of Reviews in History, Research Associate of the Modern East Asia Research Centre (MEARC), University of Leiden, and Visiting Senior Research Fellow, ARI, National University of Singapore, January to March 2011.

Areas of research supervision

  • I am interested in research proposals on modern Japanese history, history of Japanese imperialism and colonisation, and cultural approaches to international and diplomatic history. Proposals for joint supervision are also welcome: comparative topics that include Japan and other Asian or European countries with other members of the Department; or interdisciplinary topics that involve collaboration with other University of London colleges. I am currently engaged in joint PhD supervisions with the Institute of Education and the Universite de Paris Ouest Nanterre La Defense.
  • If you are interested in pursuing research in any of these areas, you should first read our advice on how to apply for MPhil/PhD research before submitting an application.

Teaching interests

  • Modern history of Japan, comparative history of Asia, world history, history of imperialism.


  • Books
  • Imagining Japan in Postwar East Asia (London: Routledge, 2013), co-editor with Paul Morris and Edward Vickers.
  • Japanese Society at War: Death, Memory, and the Russo-Japanese War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009).
  • Nationalisms in Japan (London: Routledge, 2006), editor.
  • Japan, Race and Equality: The Racial Equality Proposal of 1919 (London: Routledge, 1998).
  • Selected articles
  • ‘The Mentality of the Japanese Conscript and Manchuria as “Lieu de Mémoire”’, Francia: Research on Western European History, 40 (2013): 429-443.
  • ‘Diplomacy as Theatre: Staging the Bandung Conference of 1955’, Modern Asian Studies (online publication, 22 July 2013): 1-28.
  • ‘Places in Diplomacy’, Guest Editorial, Political Geography 31: 6 (2012): 335-336.
  • ‘Patriotic and Despondent: Japanese Society at War, 1904-5’, Russian Review 67:1 (January 2008): 34-49.
  • ‘Colonial Encounters: Japanese Travel Writing on Colonial Taiwan’ in Yuko Kikuchi, ed., Refracted Modernity: Visual Culture and Identity in Colonial Taiwan (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2007), pp. 21-37.
  • ‘Jinshu sabetsu teppai an: Pari kōwa gaikō no hitomaku,’ in Kobayashi Masaya, ed., Kensei no seijigaku: Banno Junji kinen ronbunshū (Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press, 2006), pp. 149-70.
  • ‘”Love thine Enemy”: Japanese Perceptions of Russia,’ in John W. Steinberg, Bruce W. Menning, David Schimmelpenninck van der Oye, David Wolff, and Shinji Yokote, eds, The Russo-Japanese War in Global Perspective: World War Zero (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2005): 365-384. Translated into Russian as an abridged version, <Vozliubi vraga Svoego>, Rodina (2005.10): 69-71.
  • ‘Popular Representations of the Past: The Case of Postwar Japan,’ Journal of Contemporary History 38:1 (January 2003): 101-116.
  • ‘The Myth of the Patriotic Soldier: Japanese Attitudes towards Death in the Russo-Japanese War’, War and Society 19:2 (October 2001): 69-89.
  • ‘The Experience of Middle-class Japanese Women’, in Peter Liddle, John Bourne, and Ian Whitehead, eds, The Great War 1914-45: Volume 2 The People’s Experience. (London: HarperCollins, 2001), pp. 140-53.
  • ‘Reflections on the History of Japanese diplomacy’, Diplomacy and Statecraft 10:1 (March 1999): 240-51.