The Cold War and Its Aftermath in East Asia

Course Material 2020/21

This combined part II undergraduate /graduate level seminar course available to FAMES and POLIS undergraduates and FAMES and History graduate students examines the Cold War in post-1945 East Asia. It approaches the subject from a variety of vantage points, including contemporary controversies, regional issues and bilateral relations of particular importance to the United States.  Drawing on the work of both Western and Asian writers, it stresses the importance of viewing the Cold War and its Aftermath from a broad perspective that encompasses not only diplomatic history, but also distinctive contributions from the social sciences, including international relations, political science, anthropology and cultural studies. The aim is to set the Cold War in East Asia in an international context, analysing the view from Washington (important given the central role played by the United States), while also considering the contrasting outlooks of other regional players, both allies and adversaries of the U.S. The course seeks also to concentrate, where possible, on new and recent historiographical insights, especially those provided by non-English writers. The aim is to develop a genuinely international and multi-cultural outlook and thereby better appreciate the diversity of new findings in this rich and rapidly changing field of scholarship.

The course is structured around three broad thematic issues: the impact of pre-1945 international relations and the establishment of the Cold War system; the system’s fracturing in the context of the Sino-Soviet split; and the significance of alliances, regionalism and the transformation of the Cold War system. Topics covered include the Occupation of Japan, the “Loss of China”; the Korean and Indochina Wars; the Cultural Revolution, genocide, and the Cambodian conflict; US alliance relations with Japan and the Republic of Korea; US-India relations in response to the challenge of China post-1949; ASEAN and regionalism; North Korea as a contemporary strategic challenge; history and identity politics in contemporary East Asia; and multilateralism and competing definitions of order in East Asia. The course also engages with the different theoretical and methodological approaches employed by historians and international relations specialists in analysing these issues.

The course is assessed by an examination at the end of the year, in which students answer three questions.