Seok-Won Lee

Seok-Won Lee

Associate Professor of History; Director, Asian Studies


As a specialist in the intellectual and cultural history of East Asia, I teach courses on a wide range of subject matter, from traditional China to contemporary East Asia. Focusing on but not limited to Chinese and Japanese history, most of my courses have aimed to include voices of the underrepresented, the borderlands, minorities and outlaws from a transnational and comparative perspective. I also emphasize critical thinking and discussion as students encounter the history of East Asia. Trained at Cornell University, where most Asian historians are actively engaged in critical thinking and writing, I have endeavored to help students not only become better informed but also develop the habit of critical thinking in considering the history of East Asia, a history that affects our everyday lives today as a result of how the form and direction taken by nations in that region has influenced U.S. policy and our relationships with them. At Rhodes, I teach two courses on Chinese history (Traditional and Modern China) and will offer various courses on East Asian history.


The primary interest of my research is the question of rewriting the intellectual history of East Asia during the wartime period (1931-1945). As part of this long-term project, I focused my dissertation on social scientific discourses in the Japanese empire between 1931 and 1945. My study is primarily concerned with how imperial intellectuals in wartime Japan theorized and redefined the concepts of nation, space and community in order to justify Japan’s colonial aggression while challenging the notion of Western social sciences as modern, objective and therefore universal. This study also deals with the formation of China studies in wartime Japan and Korean intellectuals’ commitment to Japanese imperialism. As I revise my dissertation into a book manuscript, I am also conducting archival research on Japanese intellectuals’ writings on Chinese and Korean history and culture between the 1920s and the 1940s.



Japan's Pan-Asian Empire: Wartime Intellectuals and the Korea Question (London: Routledge, forthcoming 2021)
Refereed Journal Articles

“Mao’s China and the Specter of Asian Victimhood: Hirano Yoshitaro and the Institute of Chinese Affairs in Early Postwar Japan” Sino-Japanese Studies 26 (2019), 49-79.

“Karl Kiyoshi Kawakami and Japanese America between The Two World Wars,” Japanese Studies 37:3 (2017), 289-310.

“The “Korea Problem”” Moritani Katsumi and the East Asian Community in Colonial Korea, 1931-1945,” The Review of Korean Studies 19:1 (2016), 41-73.

“Asianism after Asianism: Royama Masamichi and the Making of a Postwar Asian Order,” Journal of Northeast Asian History 12:2 (2015), 67-104.
“The Paradox of Racial Liberation: W.E.B. Du Bois and Pan-Asianism in Wartime Japan,1931-1945” Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 16:4 (2015),513-530
“National Thought and Empire: Tsuda Sokichi’s Writings on China and Asia in the 1930s (Kukmin sasang kwa jekuk: 1930 nyundae tsuda sokichi ui chungkuk asia ron)” Inmun kwahak (Journal of the Humanities) 54 (2014), 123-158 (in Korean)
“Empire and Social Science : Shinmei Masamichi and the East Asian Community in Interwar Japan,” Social Science Japan Journal 17:1 (2014), 59-76.
“Newness and Limits of Writing the Intellectual History of Empire/Colony,” Yoksapipyong 97 (Winter, 2011), 426-455. (in Korean)
“Social Sciences in Crisis: Cooperativism and Regionalism in Interwar Japan,” Yoksamunjeyongu (Critical Studies on Modern Korean History) 23 (2010), 233-282. (in Korean).
“The Construction of ‘Greater East Asian’ Space: Geopolitics and Spatial Discourses in Wartime Japan,” Yoksamunjeyongu (Critical Studies on Modern Korean History) 19 (2008), 271-311. (in Korean)
Book Reviews
Review on Eric Han’s Rise of a Japanese Chinatown: Yokohama, 1894-1972, Journal of Asian Studies. (forthcoming, May/June 2016)
Review on Hirano Katsuya’s The Politics of Dialogic Imagination: Power and Popular Culture in Early Modern Japan, Journal of Japanese History 39 (2014), 183-188. (in Korean)


Ph.D., Department of History, Cornell University, 2010
M.Phil., Department of History, Cornell University, 2007
M.A., Interdisciplinary Program in Area Studies, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea, 2003
B.A., Department of History, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea, 2001