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Kate McDonald

Current Courses

Winter 2015 (current)

  • History 187B
    Modern Japan
  • History 187DR
    Directed Readings in the History of Japan
  • History 287J
    Reinventing "Japan" Colloquium

Spring 2015 (tentative)

Department Fields


There are no announcements

Modern Japan

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

Office: HSSB 4221
Winter 2015 Hours: Weds., 2-4pm

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

  • Modern Japan and the Politics of Place: Empire, Tourism, Geography
    I examine how Japanese travelers used concepts of place and mobility to translate brief tourist experiences in Korea, Manchuria, and Taiwan into seemingly apolitical accounts of geography and community.
  • Speaking Japanese: Language and the Expectation of Empire
    This chapter explores the moving bar of inclusion and exclusion in the Japanese Empire through travelers' accounts of their own expectations about and encounters with Japanese-speaking colonial subjects.
  • The Question of Empire in a Networked Age: Territory, Geography, Circulation
    This article reexamines meaning of the metropole-colony divide in the first half of the twentieth century, an era of increasingly networked movement.

Selected Publications

  • "Asymmetrical Integration: Lessons from a Railway Empire"
    Technology and Culture, forthcoming.
  • "Imperial Mobility: Circulation as History in East Asia under Empire"
    Transfers 4, no. 3 (2014): pages TBD.
  • "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

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