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Kate McDonald

Current Courses

Spring 2015 (current)

Department Fields


There are no announcements

Modern Japan

Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of California San Diego, 2011

Office: HSSB 4221

My research focuses on the history of modern Japan and twentieth century East Asia. I am particularly interested in the cultural and technological history of mobility. I am currently at work on a project that examines how the modern transportation network shaped what Japanese travelers saw and learned about the Japanese Empire in the 1910s-1930s. Other aspects of this research have led me to consider the relationship between concepts of place, empire, and globalization; the history of transportation technologies and networks; and the historiography of mobility in scholarship on the modern "non-West." I teach graduate and undergraduate courses on modern and recent Japanese history, the history of empire in the Pacific, and the history of travel and mobility.

Research and Teaching Interests

  • Travel and the Politics of Place
  • Mobility and History
  • Transportation and Transport History
    Trains! Rickshaws! Bicycles!
  • The Historiography of Empire

Current Projects

  • Placing Empire: Travel and the Social Imagination in Imperial Japan
    I examine how Japanese travelers created an imperial social imaginary through encounters with history, culture, and language in Korea, Manchuria, and Taiwan.
  • Place, Mobility, and the Experience of Empire
    This presentation considers what the interdisciplinary methodologies of mobility studies and critical human geography can add to the study of empire. (For AAS 2015.)
  • Renrakusen: Transportation and the Tensions of Empire
    This short monograph explores the conflicts that transportation produced in the context of the Japanese Empire. I focus on encounters on the iconic "Shimonoseki-Pusan Connecting Ferry," which was one of the central routes for labor migrants and travelers.

Selected Publications

  • "Speaking Japanese: Language and the Expectation of Empire"
    In Christopher Hanscom and Dennis Washburn, ed., The Affect of Difference: Representations of Race in East Asian Empire (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, forthcoming), pages TBD.
  • "Asymmetrical Integration: Lessons from a Railway Empire"
    Technology and Culture 56, no. 1 (2015): 115-149.
  • "Imperial Mobility: Circulation as History in East Asia under Empire"
    Transfers 4, no. 3 (2014): 68-87.
  • "Intermodality and Beyond: For a New History of Mobility in Japan"
    Mobility in History 5 (2014): 161-169.
  • "Ryôdo, rekishi, aidentitii: Sen-Man kankô to Nihon teikoku no keisei"
    (Territory, history, identity: Korea-Manchuria tourism and the making of the Japanese Empire), Contact Zone, no. 5 (2012): 1-18.
    McDonald Contact Zone.pdf

Undergraduate and Graduate Courses

  • HIST 87: Japanese History through Art and Literature
  • HIST 187B: Modern Japan
  • HIST 187C: Recent Japan
  • HIST 187P: Proseminar in Japanese History
  • HIST 187DR: Directed Readings in the History of the Japanese Empire
  • HIST 201AS: Advanced Historical Literature (Asia)
    Topics: "Critical Global Histories" and "History and Representation"

Honors and Professional Activities

  • American Historical Association
  • Association for Asian Studies
  • Society for the History of Technology

Selected Awards

  • UCSB Interdisciplinary Humanities Center Faculty Research Fellowship
  • Hellman Fellow
  • Regents' Junior Faculty Fellowship
  • Fulbright (Japan-U.S. Educational Commission)
  • UC Pacific Rim Advanced Graduate Research Fellowship