Dr Adam Cathcart

Dr Adam Cathcart

Lecturer in Chinese History

+44 (0)113 34 33585

Summary: Specialises in contemporary Chinese history, with a geographic focus on Manchuria and research emphasis on Northeast Asian interactions in the early Cold War (1945-1960).

Location: Parkinson 4.13


Research and publication

Cathcart's research program falls into three main categories:

1. China-North Korea relations, encompassing borderlands, the Korean War, North Korea in the late 1940s, socialist cultural construction, Chinese Koreans in Yanbian, Kimist relations with the Chinese Communist Party, and the historiography of North Korea.

2. Sino-Japanese relations, with research on war crimes in the late 1930s, Chinese views of the U.S. occupation of Japan (1945-1952), anti-Japanese themes in the "Resist America, Aid Korea" movement, Cold War consciousness of Japanese bacteriological weapons research in Manchukuo, and policy toward rehabilitated Japanese war criminals in China in the 1950s.

3. East-West Cultural Relations, including cultural ties between East Germany and the PRC in the 1950s, Sino-French relations and Simone de Beauvoir in China, East German aid to North Korea in the 1950s, narratives and depictions of PRC-Tibet relations, German-Japanese cultural ties during World War II, North Korean cultural diplomacy, and the development of China’s “people’s diplomacy” and “soft power” apparatus.

Peer-Reviewed Research Articles

(2017). “Tethering Tibet: Recent Chinese Historiography and Liu Shengqi in Lhasa, 1945-1949,” Asian Affairs, Vol. 48, no. 1 (March), 74-87.

(2017). “Xi’s Belt: Approaches to Chinese-North Korean Relations,” with Christopher Green, in Chinese Foreign Policy under Xi, Hoo Tiang Boon, ed. (Routledge; February), pp. 130-143.

(2017). “Death and Transfiguration: The Late Kim Jong-Il Aesthetic in North Korean Cultural Production” Popular Music and Society, with Pekka Kohornen, Vol. XX, No. 1, pp 1-16.

(2016). “Resurrecting Defeat: International Propaganda and the Shenyang Trials of 1956,” in War Crimes Trials in the Wake of Decolonization and Cold War in Asia, 1945-1956: Justice in Time of Turmoil, Kerstin von Lingen, ed. (Springer), pp. 261-278. 

(2016.) “’Kim Jong-un Syndrome’: North Korean Commemorative Culture and the Succession Process,” Change and Continuity in North Korean Politics, co-edited with Robert Winstanley-Chesters and Christopher Green (Routledge), pp. 6-22.

(2015) “North Korean Regime Stability: The Chinese-North Korean Border Region as Test Case,” with Christopher Green, in East Asian Intelligence and Organised Crime, Stephan Blancke, ed. (Berlin: Köster Verlag), pp. 291-302.

(2014). “Nation, Ethnicity, and the Post-Manchukuo Order in the Sino-Korean Border Region,” with Charles Kraus, in Key Papers on Korea: Papers Celebrating 25 Years of the Centre of Korean Studies, SOAS, University of London, Andrew D. Jackson, ed. (Brill) 79-99.

(2014). “How Authoritarian Regimes Maintain Domain Consensus: North Korean Information Strategies in the Kim Jong-un Era,” Review of Korean Studies, co-authored with Christopher Green and Steven Denney, Vol. 17, No. 2 (December) 145–178.

(2014). “In the Shadow of Jang Song-taek: Pyongyang’s Evolving Strategy with the Hwanggumpyeong and Wihua Islands,” Korea Economic Institute of America Academic Paper Series, Vol. 8 (June), 8 pp.

(2013).“North Korea’s Cultural Diplomacy in the Early Kim Jong-un Era,” with Steven Denney, North Korean Review, Vol, 9, No. 2 (Autumn) 29-42.

(2011). “The Bonds of Brotherhood: New Evidence of Sino-North Korean Exchanges, 1950-1954,” with Charles Kraus, Journal of Cold War Studies, Vol. 13, No. 3, 27-51. 

(2010). “Nationalism and Ethnic Identity in the Sino-Korean Border Region of Yanbian, 1945-1950,” Korean Studies Vol. 34, 25-53. 

(2010). “Walls as Multivalent Icons in the early People’s Republic,” in Chinese Walls in Time and Space: History, Medicine, Media, Law, Art, and Literature, Haun Saussy and Roge DesForges, eds. (Ithaca: Cornell University Press): 175-210.

(2010). “Japanese Devils and American Wolves: Chinese Communist Songs from the War of Liberation and the Korean War,” Popular Music and Society, Vol. 33, No. 2 (May): 203-218.

(2009). “’To Serve Revenge for the Dead’: Chinese Communist Reflections of the War of Resistance in the PRC Foreign Ministry Archive, 1949-1956,” with Patricia Nash, China Quarterly No. 200 (December): 1053-1070. *This article was awarded the Gordon White Prize for the best article published in in 2009.

(2009).  “North Korean Hip Hop?  Reflections on Musical Diplomacy and the DPRK,” Acta Koreana, Vol. 12, No. 2 (December): 1-19.   

(2009). “War Criminals and the Road to Sino-Japanese Normalization: Zhou Enlai and the Shenyang Trials, 1954-1956,” with Patricia Nash, Twentieth-Century China 34:2 (April): 89-111. 

(2009). “’Against Invisible Enemies’: Japanese Bacteriological Weapons in China’s Cold War, 1949-1952,” Chinese Historical Review Vol. 16, No. 1 (Spring): 101-129.

(2008).  “Peripheral Influence: The Sinuiju Student Incident and the Soviet Occupation of North Korea, 1945-1947,” with Charles Kraus, Journal of Korean Studies Vol. 13, No. 1 (Fall), 1-28.

(2008). “Internationalist Culture in North Korea, 1945-1950,” with Charles Kraus, Review of Korean Studies Vol. 11, No. 3 (September), 123-148.

(2008).  “Song of Youth: North Korean Music from Liberation to War,” North Korean Review, Vol. 4, No. 1 (Fall), 93-104.

(2006). “Urban Chinese Perspectives on the U.S. Occupation of Japan, 1945-1947,” Studies on Asia Series II, Vol. 3, No. 2, 21-48.

Media Activity

His writing about North Korea and Sino-North Korean relations appears regularly in such venues as The Guardian, Foreign Policy, The Diplomat, and South China Morning Post. His analysis is regularly featured on the research website Sino-NK, where he generates working papers and source readings about China's relationship with North Korea and in documenting the DPRK border with China.

Languages and Archives

Cathcart reads and speaks Mandarin Chinese fluently, and works regularly in archival and contemporary sources in German, French, and Korean. He works regularly in the Chinese Foreign Ministry Archive (Beijing), the Bundesarchiv (Berlin), the Hoover Institution Archive (Stanford), and within a large collection of captured North Korean documents (National Archives II, College Park, Maryland).

Teaching Activity

Dr. Cathcart's teaches modules on modern China, the Korean War, and the history of Sino-Japanese relations, but also occasionally spans into topics such as Modern Tibet, interdisciplinary research, and questions of historical memory. At Leeds, he teaches a full-year special subject module on the Korean War, second-year modules on 20th century Japan and China during the Mao years, and occasionally contributes to modules on the historiography of violence and atrocities in East Asia during World War II.

Current Activities

He is presently at work on a book manuscript concerning North Korean-Chinese relations and borderlands from 1945-1950, a project co-authored with Charles Kraus, and has been contracted to complete a book for Palgrave-Macmillan entitled China-North Korean Relations in the Kim Jong-un Era.