Barak Kushner teaches modern Japanese history in the Faculty of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies (formerly the Faculty of Oriental Studies) at the University of Cambridge and has a PhD in History from Princeton University. He was recently awarded a 2012-2013 British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship which he used to complete his third book on the postwar adjudication of Japanese war crimes in China, entitled Men to Devils, Devils to Men: Japanese War Crimes and Chinese Justice (forthcoming from Harvard University Press, 2014). He has just launched a 5-year European Research Council funded project, “The Dissolution of the Japanese Empire and the Struggle for Legitimacy in Postwar East Asia, 1945–1965.” This 5-year grant will examine the impact of the fall of the Japanese empire in East Asia. The project manages several postdoctoral research associates and offered two full scholarships to PhD students in an effort to investigate this important historical episode.
Kushner’s second book, Slurp! A culinary and social history of ramen - Japan's favorite noodle soup (Brill, 2012), analyzed food and history within Sino-Japan relations. The book has been the focus of numerous articles in the major Japanese presses, including interviews in the Asahi Shimbun (which featured a page-long piece), Yomiuri Shimbun, (including a mention on page one) Mainichi Shimbun, Sankei Shimbun, Tokyo Shimbun, Nikkei Business Weekly, and a variety of provincial newspapers. Kushner's work on the history of ramen was awarded the 2013 Sophie Coe Prize for Food History, the longest-running and most generous prize for writing in food history in the English language. He has also appeared on the BBC radio show, In Our Time, to discuss the Sino-Japanese War.
In the summer of 2008 he was a visiting scholar at Nanjing University (China) and during 2009 he was a visiting scholar at Waseda University (Japan). He was a 2008 Abe Fellow and conducted research concerning "Cold War Propaganda in East Asia and Historical Memory." Previously, Kushner worked in the US Department of State as a political officer in East Asian affairs and taught Chinese and Japanese history at Davidson College in North Carolina, USA. As a scholar he has written on wartime Japanese and Chinese propaganda, Japanese media, Sino-Japanese relations, Asian comedy, food history, BC class war crimes, and the Cold War.
The Thought War - Japanese Imperial Propaganda (Hawaii 2006), Kushner's first book, delved into the history of wartime Japanese propaganda.
Kushner's academic articles have appeared in Past and Present, Journal of Contemporary History, Diplomatic History, The International History Review, Japanese Studies, Journal of Popular Culture, and the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television. He has published book chapters in edited volumes dealing with: a postwar media history of Godzilla, kamishibai and children's wartime propaganda in Japan, the Chinese influence on Taisho notions of modern cuisine in Japan, Japan's 1940 Olympic plans, the image of Japan in Chinese humor, and other topics.
Dr. Kushner received his BA from Brandeis University and then began his career as a high school teacher of social studies in Chicago. Later, he traveled to Iwate, Japan where he taught English, lived in a Buddhist temple, and attended Japanese elementary school, studying Japanese along with other students ages 6-12. He lived in Japan for over 5 years in Tokyo, Yokohama and Iwate and studied at Rikkyo University and Tokyo University. After completing courses in advanced Japanese, Kushner was an editor/ translator at the National Institute for Research Advancement, a think tank in Tokyo. He taught western history at Shenyang Teacher's University in the north of China where he also studied Chinese and began research in Chinese history. After returning to the United States he attended graduate school at Princeton University and received a PhD in Asian history.
Dr. Kushner has been invited to speak about East Asian History at Florida State University (Tallahassee), William and Mary College (Program in Washington DC), the University of Hong Kong, University of Texas (Austin), University of Heidelberg, University of Sydney (Australia), Murdoch University (Perth, Australia), Aichi University (Japan), National Taiwan University, National Chengchi University (Taiwan), Tunghai University (Taiwan), Nanjing University (China), SOAS, the Royal College of Art in London, University of Bristol, the Max Planck Institute for Human Development (Berlin), University of Oxford, Tokyo University, Waseda University (Japan), the University of Alaska at Anchorage, Pennsylvania State University, Kansas University, Western Michigan University, Rowan University, Occidental College, George Washington University, Indiana State University, Hebrew University (Jerusalem), and the University of Oregon. He is on the editorial board of the journal, Modern Asian Studies, and also served as an historical consultant for the Japan Society in New York City. Barak has completed several academic translations on economics and military history from Japanese to English. He speaks and reads Japanese, Chinese, and French.
Dr. Kushner has received a few fellowships: a 2007 and 2012 Japan Foundation Endowment Committee Grant; in the summer of 2010 he received a British Academy Short Term Grant to Academia Sinica, Taiwan for a research project on the dissolution of the Japanese empire and during the same time he was part of a Taiwanese Ministry of Education Foreign Summer Grant sponsored international academic team exploring the project "Postwar Taiwanese History, 1950-1960." In 2009 he participated in a similar Taiwanese Ministry of Education Foreign Summer Grant sponsored academic group that analyzed the theme, "Exploring the Cultural Faces of Taiwan 1945-1960." In 2008 he was awarded an Abe Fellowship to conduct research (from 2008-2010) into the legal history of the early Cold War in East Asia. He used the award in both China and Japan. While teaching at Davidson College (2002-2005) he received support from three Freeman Foundation grants to conduct research in Japan, China, and Korea. In 2004 Dr. Kushner also received Freeman Foundation support to travel to Mongolia on an SIT-sponsored tour.