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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).
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
(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 China Quarterly’s 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.
(2012). “Love Song of the Foreign Imperialist: Teaching Tibetan History to American Students in the PRC,” ASIANetwork Exchange Vol. 19, No. 2 (Spring), 41-46.
(2009). “Transnational Voyages: Reflections on Teaching Exodus to North Korea,” ASIANetwork Exchange Vol. 17, No. 1 (Fall).
(2006). “Red Guards and Red Herrings: Teaching Mao: The Unknown Story,” ASIANetwork Exchange Vol. 14, No. 1 (Fall), 19-20.
His writing about North Korea and Sino-North Korean relations has been published in various venues such as The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, The Diplomat, The Daily NK, and South China Morning Post. Dr. Cathcart has been interviewed by BBC (radio and television), NPR, Huffington Post Live, various radio stations in Seoul, Ireland, and the U.S., and quoted in the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. His analysis is regularly featured on the website Sino-NK, where he works with a global group of colleagues in generating substantive essays and working papers 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).
Dr. Cathcart's teaching centers upon 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. As a lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast (Northern Ireland) in 2012-2013, he contributed lectures and advised student “public history” projects about divergent memories and histories of the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). At Leeds in 2013-14, he taught a full-year course on the Korean War for master's students, a course on China during the Mao years, and contributing modules on the historiography of violence and atrocities in East Asia during World War II.
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 for the University of Washington Press in Seattle, and has been contracted to complete a book for Palgrave-Macmillan entitled China-North Korean Relations in the Kim Jong-un Era. He maintains an active speaking schedule, and lectured this spring at Oxford and Cambridge universities.