Department of History

Michael Robinson

  • Professor, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures
  • Adjunct Professor, Department of History


  • Ph.D. at University of Washington, 1979

Contact Information

Goodbody Hall, Rm. 227
(812) 855-3635


Michael Robinson

Throughout my career I have been fascinated by the modern history of Korea and Japan. While I am involved in the study of both modern and contemporary Northeast Asia, my principle studies have focused on modern Korea during the period of Japanese colonial rule. My first book, Cultural Nationalism in Colonial Korea (1988), explored early Korean nationalist ideology and identity formation exposing the roots of later ideological splits on the peninsula that emerged after 1945. Subsequent work shifted to focus on the root causes for how the Japanese successfully obtained hegemony in Korea and how this hegemony shaped early Korean formations of modernity. I addressed this theme in my book Colonial Modernity in Korea, 1910-1945 (1999). My interest in modernity led to work on the emergence of popular culture during Korea's colonial period. My research has led me to develop a broad palate of courses on Korean history, national and cultural identity formation in East Asia, and East Asian popular culture. My general teaching interests have motivated my work with texts as well. I am co-author of the widely used text on Korean history, Korea Old and New: a History (1991), and I am currently finishing a short history of modern Korea, Korea's Twentieth-Century Odyssey: a Short History, that will be published by the University of Hawaii press in 2007.

Selected Awards

  • Distinguished Lecturer in Korean Studies, Committee for Korean Studies, AAS (2004)
  • Korea Foundation Advanced Research Grant (2002)
  • Professor Invité Ministere de l´Education Ecole Nationale, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (2001)
  • Social Science Research Council (SSRC) Post-Doctoral Research Grant (1994)
  • National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Research Grant (1990)
  • Fulbright Senior Research Grant, Republic of Korea (1987)

Research Interests

  • Intellectual history of modern Korea and Japan
  • Colonialism
  • Popular culture
  • Nationalism

Courses Recently Taught

  • Popular Culture in East Asia
  • Cross Cultural Experience of War
  • Asian Americans: Cross Cultural Conflict and Identity
  • History of Modern Korea
  • Cultural Identity and Nationalism in East Asia
  • The Culture of Colonialism in East Asia
  • East Asian Scholarship

Publication Highlights


Korea's Twentieth-Century Odyssey: A Short History. Manoa: The University of Hawaii Press, 2007.

[co-edited with Gi-Wook Shin] Colonial Modernity in Korea, 1910-1945. Cambridge, MA: Harvard East Asia Council Publications, 2000.

Cultural Nationalism in Colonial Korea, 1920-1925. Seattle: The University of Washington Press, 1988.


"The Vanishing Meta-Narrative of Nation: Cultural Production in Contemporary Korea," in Julian Stringer, ed., Contemporary Korean Cinema, (Edinburgh, UK: The University of Edinburgh Press, 2005), pp. 1-21.

Three Chapters in Carter Eckert, Ki-Baik Lee, Young-Ick Lew, Michael Robinson, and Edward Wagner, eds., Korea Old and New: A History (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991), pp. 254-326.

"Broadcasting in Korea 1924-1937: Colonial Modernity and Cultural Hegemony" in Sharon Manichiello, ed., Japan's Competing Modernities: Issues in Culture and Democracy, 1900-1930 (Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press, 1998), pp. 358-378.