The Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, the Weather East Asian Institute, and the Department of History, Columbia
The Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, the Weather East Asian Institute, and the Department of History, Columbia University, present:
Book Talk: Prisoners of the Empire: Inside Japanese POW Camps
Cambridge:Harvard University Press (release date 9/15/2020)
With Sarah Kovner, Author and Senior Research Scholar, Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies
Moderated by Barak Kushner, Professor of East Asian History, Chair of Japanese Studies, Department of East Asian Studies/Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge
Monday, September 21, 2020
12:00pm – 1:30pm
Registration via the Columbia/SIPA calendars
Registrants will be sent a link the day prior to the event
Sarah Kovner offers a pathbreaking account of World War II POW camps, challenging the longstanding belief that the Japanese Empire systematically mistreated Allied prisoners. In only five months, from the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 to the fall of Corregidor in May 1942, the Japanese Empire took prisoner more than 140,000 Allied servicemen and 130,000 civilians from a dozen different countries. From Manchuria to Java, Burma to New Guinea, the Japanese army hastily set up over seven hundred camps to imprison these unfortunates. In the chaos, 40 percent of American prisoners of war did not survive. More Australians died in captivity than were killed in combat. Sarah Kovner offers the first portrait of detention in the Pacific theater that explains why so many suffered. She follows Allied servicemen in Singapore and the Philippines transported to Japan on “hellships” and singled out for hard labor, but also describes the experience of guards and camp commanders, who were completely unprepared for the task. Much of the worst treatment resulted from a lack of planning, poor training, and bureaucratic incoherence rather than an established policy of debasing and tormenting prisoners. The struggle of POWs tended to be greatest where Tokyo exercised the least control, and many were killed by Allied bombs and torpedoes rather than deliberate mistreatment. By going beyond the horrific accounts of captivity to actually explain why inmates were neglected and abused, Prisoners of the Empire contributes to ongoing debates over POW treatment across myriad war zones, even to the present day.
Sarah Kovner is a Senior Research Scholar at the Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University. She has been a Fellow in International Security Studies at Yale University and a tenured Associate Professor of History at the University of Florida. Kovner’s first book, Occupying Power: Sex Workers and Servicemen in Postwar Japan, was a Choice Outstanding Academic Title, and won the best book prize of the Southeast Conference Association for Asian Studies. Her work has been published in the Journal of Asian Studies, the Journal of Women’s History, and Diplomatic History. Her work has also been translated into Japanese and Chinese. Kovner received her A.B. from Princeton University and her Ph.D. from Columbia, and also studied at Kyoto University and the University of Tokyo. She is an active member of the Association of Asian Studies, the American Historical Association, and the Society for Historians of Foreign Relations.
(Monday) 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
PANEL DISCUSSION: 20/20 Vision in a Time of Crisis
To sign up for this virtual transatlantic event, RSVP here.
The Covid-19 pandemic and public health crisis; economic collapse; waves of anti-racist protests; threats to democracy and rising authoritarianism in the U.S. and elsewhere, all against a backdrop of an ever-worsening climate crisis… how can we make sense of the current moment in history? Bernard Harcourt engages Etienne Balibar, Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Adam Tooze, and Emmanuelle Saada in a wide-ranging discussion about these destabilizing developments that bring into focus fundamental fault lines in the world today.
Etienne Balibar teaches at Columbia every Fall semester. He is Professor Emeritus of moral and political philosophy at Université de Paris X – Nanterre and Professor Emeritus of Humanities at the University of California, Irvine. Emmanuelle Saada is Professor of French and of History, and Director of the Center for French and Francophone Studies at Columbia. Adam Tooze is the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of History at Columbia. Souleymane Bachir Diagne is the Director of the Institute of African Studies, Professor of French and of Philosophy at Columbia. Bernard Harcourt is the Isidore and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science at Columbia.
This event is presented by the Columbia Maison Française. It is co-sponsored by the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, Columbia Global Centers | Paris, the Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought, the European Institute, and the Alliance Program.
(Thursday) 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color Speaker: Andrea Ritchie (attorney,
Andrea Ritchie (attorney, author, activist, and Researcher-in-Residence at the Barnard Center for Research on Women)
Date: Thursday, September 24th
Time: 4:00 – 5:30 PM
Invisible No More examines issues of racial profiling, police violence, criminalization, and mass incarceration through the lens of women’s experiences. How do women, trans, and gender nonconforming people experience policing in ways that are similar to other members of communities of color, and how are their experiences unique? What do their experiences teach us about the shape and scope of police violence, and how do they expand our framing of the issues and our demands for justice? How do they call on us to radically reimagine our visions of safety and the means we devote to achieving it? A unique perspective on one of the central issues of our time, rooted in over two decades of experience on the front lines of movements to end police violence.
Lehman Center for American History, “Policing America” series
Center for Gender and Sexuality Law
Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity
Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought
Institute for Research in African American Studies
Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
(Thursday) 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
For general public: Livestream on Facebook and YouTube! For Columbia affiliates:
For Columbia affiliates: register and attend via Zoom
This panel will cover immigration justice issues including xenophobia, ICE, CBP and their presence at BLM protests, the US-Mexico border wall, US-China relations and policy amid COVID-19, Islamophobia, histories of state violence, and related topics.
Organized and moderated by Saeeda Islam (Faculty Affairs Coordinator) and Emma Sheinbaum (Communications & Development Coordinator)
Brianna Nofil is an Assistant Professor of History at William and Mary College. She earned her PhD from Columbia University (GSAS ’20). Nofil’s research areas focus on immigration, borders and borderlands, carceral state, and legal.
Pablo Piccato, professor, specializes in Mexican history. He has worked on the political and cultural history of Mexico, and on the history of crime. He is currently working on an overview of crime in Mexico during the twentieth century.
Mae M. Ngai, Lung Family Professor of Asian American Studies and Professor of History, is a U.S. legal and political historian interested in questions of immigration, citizenship, and nationalism. Before becoming a historian she was a labor-union organizer and educator in New York City, working for District 65-UAW and the Consortium for Worker Education.
Karl Jacoby is a specialist in environmental, borderlands, and Native American history. His books include Crimes Against Nature: Squatters, Poachers, Thieves and the Hidden History of American Conservation and Shadows at Dawn: A Borderlands Massacre and the Violence of History.
(Tuesday) 4:00 pm - 5:10 pm
Book launch and panel discussion: The Perfect Fascist by Victoria
(Tuesday) 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm