Masuda Hajimu (family name Masuda) is a historian whose work concerns the modern history of Japan and East Asia, the history of U.S. foreign relations, and the social and global history of the Cold War. He received his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 2012, and currently is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at the National University of Singapore (NUS). From September 2017 to May 2018, he is serving as a residential fellow in the History and Policy Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC. He is the author of Cold War Crucible: The Korean Conflict and the Postwar World (Harvard University Press, 2015), and has published a number of book chapters and articles which can be found in Foreign PolicyDiplomatic HistoryJournal of Contemporary HistoryJournal of Cold War Studies, and Journal of American-East Asian Relations, as well as IIAS Newsletter and History News Network (HNN).

Research Program

An overarching and central theme of my research is the evolving power of the people, regardless of political spectrum or geography, with particular attention toward ordinary people’s violence and the recurrent rise of grassroots conservatism in the globalized world of the 20th century. Therefore, my research ranges from political and diplomatic history to social and cultural history.

Currently I am at work on with a number of projects, including two books. First, I am working on my second book, tentatively titled “Purity and Order: The Politics of Grassroots Conservatism in Wartime and Cold War Asia.” Its core idea is to examine the global history of grassroots social conservatism through utilizing case studies of Japan and Northeast Asia, with particular attention to recurrent rightist backlashes involving gender, ethnicity, and labor in the 1930s- 1950s. While conventional wisdom has characterized these backlashes in terms of wartime mobilization and Cold War politics, my study reveals popular irritation and hatred on the ground toward newly rising social forces, such as “new women,” ethnic minorities (Zainichi Koreans), and labor movements, which were often viewed as threatening and damaging the purity and order of Japan. Highlighting this phenomenon, which was shared in many parts of the world simultaneously, this study uses Japan and Northeast Asia’s experiences as case studies to analyze the recurring pattern of everyday violence involving grassroots nativist sentiments in the twentieth century.

Second, I am also working on an anthology titled “Unlearning Cold War Narratives: Toward Alternative Understandings of the Cold War World,” which aims to shed light on locally specific realities and everyday conflicts underneath Cold War narratives. In doing so, it intends to decompose Cold War imaginings in order to destabilize common understandings of the Cold War. This book is based on the international conference, which I organized at NUS in 2016, inviting thirty-five scholars from Europe, Africa, Asia, and North and South Americas.

In addition, I have been working on three articles: “The Social Experience of War and Occupation” for Laura Hein ed., The Cambridge History of Japan; “Reconsidering U.S.-Japanese Relations History” for Robert David Johnson ed., The Oxford Handbook of American Foreign Relations; and “The Cold War: Studies of the Cold War in the Post-Cold War Era” for Christopher Dietrich ed., The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to U.S. Foreign Policy.


See My updated CV here. (PDF file)

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Department of History
National University of Singapore
Block AS 01-05-44, 11 Arts Link
Singapore 117570
Email: hishm [at] nus.edu.sg

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