Lori Watt

Lori Watt

​Associate Professor of History; Director of East Asian Studies
PhD, Columbia University
MA, Ochanomizu University, Tokyo
BA, Reed College
research interests:
  • Political and Social History of Twentieth-Century Japan
  • Imperialism and Decolonization
  • Postwar and Postcolonial Migrations
  • Military Cultures

contact info:

office hours:

  • Wednesday 1:30 - 3:00 pm

mailing address:

  • CB 1062
  • ST. LOUIS, MO 63130-4899
image of book cover

​Professor Watt specializes in Japanese history. In a current book project, she seeks to gain a better understanding of the Allied-managed population transfers throughout East Asia at the end of the World War II.

Recent Courses

East Asia in the World

This course covers the geopolitical history of twentieth-century East Asia, from its colonial constellation through its transformation into cold war nation-states. We then use an interdisciplinary approach to investigate contemporary problems accompanying the emergence of regional economies and institutions. We grapple with the question of when people in East Asia -- China, Taiwan, the Koreas, and Japan -- act as a members of a transnational region and when they act in ideological, national, or local terms. We evaluate different disciplinary approaches in order to understand the combination of knowledge and skills necessary for drawing meaningful research conclusions. In reading articles produced by a range of scholars and institutions, the course is also an introduction to the politics of the production of knowledge about East Asia. We then apply our knowledge to a real-world conflict and give team presentations on our proposed solutions. This course is restricted to freshmen in the Global Citizenship Program.

    Histories of the Japanese Archipelago

    This course seeks to provide graduate students with an understanding of the sweep of the Japanese past, from the early modern period through the twenty-first century. Students will engage in several key debates in Japanese historiography and learn how scholars of Japan have drawn on and contributed to important methodologies. This course is ideal for graduate students who plan to cultivate Japanese history as an area of research and teaching expertise, and who intend to use Japanese history as one of the three fields necessary for completing the qualifying exams required by the Department of History. Advanced undergraduates with an interest in the topic should contact the instructor for permission to enroll.

      Japan Since 1868

      For some, "Japan" evokes Hello Kitty, animated films, cartoons, and sushi. For others, the Nanjing Atrocity, "Comfort Women," the Bataan Death March, and problematic textbooks. For still others, woodblock prints, tea ceremony, and cherry blossoms, or Sony Walkmans and Toyotas. Still others may hold no image at all. Tracing the story of Japan's transformations, from a pre-industrial peasant society managed by samurai-bureaucrats into an expansionist nation-state and then to its current paradoxical guise of a peaceful nation of culture led by conservative nationalists, provides the means for deepening our understandings of historical change in one region and grappling with the methods and aims of the discipline of History.

        Historical Methods-Transregional History

        DECOLONIZATION IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY: How did people in colonial and imperial societies negotiate the end of colonial formations? What problems did people in former colonies face in their attempts to build post-colonial states? Why were some former colonies (South Korea, India) eventually able to create viable nation-states while others (Burma, Somalia) were less successful? This course will consider the broad question of the processes and obstacles in the transformation from a world of empires and colonies into one of nation-states. It will be a small-group reading course in which students are introduced to the skills essential to the historian's craft, including acquiring research skills, learning to read historical works critically, and learning to use primary and secondary sources to make a persuasive and original argument. Modern, Transregional.


          Fall Fellowship in Korean Studies, 2013

          Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowship for Advanced Assistant Professors, 2011

          Fulbright IIE Research Fellowship to Japan, 2011

          SSRC/JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow, 2008

          Visiting Scholar, Hitotsubashi University, 2011-2012 & Spring 2008 

          NEH Faculty Fellowship, 2006

          Reischauer Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship 2002-2003


          "Embracing Defeat, Eliding Empire in Post-colonial Seoul, Autumn 1945." Journal of Asian Studies, February 2015

          "A 'Great East Asian Meal' in Post-colonial Seoul, Autumn 1945." In Food and War in Mid-Twentieth-Century East Asia, ed. Katarzyna J. Cwiertka, 149-164.  Aldershot: Ashgate, 2013

          "Imperial Remnants:  the Repatriates in Postwar Japan," in Caroline Elkins and Susan Pedersen, eds., Settler Colonialism in the Twentieth Century:  Projects, Practices, Legacies.  New York:  Taylor and Francis, 2005, 243-255

          "Tôhoku Dôhô:  Haisengo Manshû ni okeru Nihonjin no sekai (The World of Japanese Refugees in Postwar Manchuria)."  Higashi Ajia Kindaishi, March, 2003, 87-97

          When Empire Comes Home: Repatriation and Reintegration in Postwar Japan

          When Empire Comes Home: Repatriation and Reintegration in Postwar Japan

          Following the end of World War II in Asia, the Allied powers repatriated over six million Japanese nationals from colonies and battlefields throughout Asia and deported more than a million colonial subjects from Japan to their countries of origin.

          Depicted at the time as a postwar measure related to the demobilization of defeated Japanese soldiers, this population transfer was a central element in the human dismantling of the Japanese empire that resonates with other post-colonial and post-imperial migrations in the twentieth century.