Sidney X. Lu is a social and cultural historian of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Japan, with research interests in the areas of migration, settler colonialism, gender, race and transnational history. He earned his Ph.D. in history from the University of Pennsylvania in 2013.
His first book, The Making of Japanese Settler Colonialism: Malthusianism and Trans-Pacific Migration, 1868-1961, is a study of the relationship between Malthusianism, emigration and colonial expansion in the history of modern Japan. It explains how the discourse of overpopulation emerged in Meiji Japan and how it was appropriated by different generations of Japanese expansionists to justify Japan’s migration-driven expansion in Asia, Hawaii, North and South America from the beginning of the Meiji era to the 1960s. The study defines this overpopulation discourse as “Malthusian expansionism”. It was a set of ideas that demanded additional land abroad to accommodate the supposed surplus domestic population on the one hand and emphasized the necessity of national population growth on the other. As two sides of the same coin, these two seemingly contradictory strands of ideas worked in tandem to constitute the logic of Malthusian expansionism. It rationalized overseas emigration as both an ideal method to diffuse domestic tensions supposedly caused by overpopulation and an effective means for the empire to pursue wealth and power abroad.
At a concrete level, focusing on the discourse of overpopulation, this study examines Japanese expansion in a way that transcends the geographical and temporal boundaries of the Japanese colonial empire. It delineates ideological ties, human connections and institutional continuities between Japanese colonial migration in Asia and Japanese migration to Hawaii and North and South America from early Meiji to two decades after WWII. At a more theoretical level, this trans-Pacific study of Japanese expansion challenges the conceptual division between “migrants” and “settlers” in settler colonial studies, a conventionally Anglo-centered field of inquiry. By revealing the overlaps and intersections between the experiences of migration and colonial expansion, it reconfigures the scope, logic, and significance of settler colonialism in world history. It also sheds new light on the relationship between life and land and between bio-politics and geo-politics in the logic of modern imperialism.
The Making of Japanese Settler Colonialism: Malthusianism and Trans-Pacific Migration, 1868-1961 (under contract with Cambridge University Press)
“Good Women for Empire: Educating Overseas Female Emigrants in Imperial Japan, 1900-1945,”Journal of Global History, vol. 8, issue. 3 (November 2013), 436-460.
“The Shame of Empire: Japanese Overseas Prostitutes and Prostitution Abolition in Modern Japan, 1880s-1920s,”positions: asia critique, vol. 24, no. 4 (November 2016), 839-873.
“Colonizing Hokkaido and the Origin of Japanese Trans-Pacific Expansion, 1869-1894,”Japanese Studies, vol. 36, no. 2 (2016), 251-274.
“Japanese American Migration and the Making of Model Women for Japanese Expansion in Brazil and Manchuria, 1871- 1945,” Journal of World History, vol. 28, no. 3&4 (December 2017), 437-467.
HST 110 Historical Approaches to Contemporary East Asia
HST 370 Modern Japan
HST 389 World War II in Asia and the Pacific
HST 485 The Japanese Empire and Its Legacies
IAH 204 Asia and the World
SSC 499 Key Issues in East Asian Societies
HST 490 Undergraduate Independent Study
Gender and Sexuality in East Asia
HST 990 Graduate Independent Study
Readings in the History of the Japanese Empire
Readings in the Histories of Empires and Migration