Lori Watt

​Associate Professor of History and of Global Studies
PhD, Columbia University
MA, Ochanomizu University, Tokyo
BA, Reed College
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    office hours:

    • On Research Leave
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    • MSC 1062-107-114
    • Washington University
    • One Brookings Drive
    • St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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    ​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.


    PhD Students

    Dr. Watt welcomes applications from prospective PhD students with an insterest in the political and social history of 20th centruy Japan, especially on the themes of empire, decolonization, and internationalsim. Please contact her by email in advance of submitting an application to discuss whether the program at WUSTL would be a good fit for you.


    When Empire Comes Home:  Repatriation and Reintegration in Postwar Japan.  Cambridge, MA:  Harvard University Asia Center, 2009


    "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

    Book Projects

    A study of the American-led dismantling of Japan’s settler colonial project, Decolonizing Japan: American Occupation and Humanitarianism after World War II shows how a range of reform and humanitarian efforts under Occupation generated a vocabulary of self-determination, sovereignty, and human rights, one that helped ease Japan's transition away from empire and into an ethno-national state. Under review at Oxford University Press.

    A life history of Japan’s most famous diplomat, Sadako Ogata: Ambassador to the World analyzes how Ogata's education and professional contributions, especially as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 1991-2000, exemplify Japan’s national history from war, Occupation, and the US-Japan Alliance to prominence in international organizations and economic development initiatives in Asia, from the mid-twentieth century into the twenty-first.

    When Empire Comes Home

    When Empire Comes Home

    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. Lori Watt analyzes how the human remnants of empire, those who were moved and those who were left behind, served as sites of negotiation in the process of the jettisoning of the colonial project and in the creation of new national identities in Japan. Through an exploration of the creation and uses of the figure of the repatriate, in political, social, and cultural realms, this study addresses the question of what happens when empire comes home.