Chris Perkins

Senior Lecturer in Japanese


Dr Chris Perkins completed a joint honours degree in Japanese Language and Contemporary Society with Education Studies at Oxford Brookes University in 2004, with one year spent at Kitakyushu University as an exchange student. After this he worked as a teacher at four schools in Gifu for two years before returning to complete an MSc (distinction) in International Relations at Royal Holloway University of London in 2007, where he went on to complete his PhD thesis entitled ‘National Thinking and the Politics of Belonging in Contemporary Japan’. He joined the University of Edinburgh as a lecturer in January 2011. His work has appeared in journals including The European Journal of Social Theory, Global Society, Television and New Media, The Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema, and Asiatische Studien, as well as in numerous edited collections. His book on media and memory of the left in Japan, The United Red Army on Screen, was published by Palgrave in 2015.

Dr Perkins was recognised for his teaching in the 2012/13 EUSA Teaching Awards, with his Japanese 2B winning "Best Course". He is also a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Undergraduate teaching

Dr Perkins teaches courses on contemporary Japanese society, Japanese cinema, the radical politics of the 1960s, and research methods.

Research summary

I work on the history of Japanese student politics, Japanese media, and HE pedagogy. I am also interested in social and political theory (both Japanese and beyond), memory, international relations and borders.

Project activity

1. The pre and postwar Settlement Movement in Japan

In the 1880s, an Anglican clergyman and staff and students from Oxford University set up a ‘settlement house’ in the East End of London. Conceiving poverty as a moral problem, their goal was live with the poor to raise their cultural standards, and thus pull them out of the cycle of destitution. The idea soon spread to the United States, where settlement houses sprang up across the country.

That the settlement movement would travel across the Atlantic is no surprise: there was rich exchange between the UK and US in the late 19th century, and the values underpinning the movement – namely a particular protestant understanding of the relationship between morality and work – were shared. But what is perhaps less expected is that the settlement movement also travelled to Japan. Settlement theory was discussed at length in Japan in 1921 by Oobayashi Munetsugu, and was put into practice by students at Tokyo Imperial University in the wake of the 1923 Great Kantō Earthquake. The movement then flourished for over a decade, before coming to an end in the late 1930s, only to restart again in the early postwar era.

But how was settlement theory and practice adapted to the Japanese context? What were its goals, methods, successes and failures? And what can this example tell us about the global circulation of ideas regarding social responsibility, the state, and welfare in the pre and postwar period?   

2.  Japan-Korea Relations in Popular Culture

This project looks at the cultural consititution of the relationship between South Korea and Japan, with a particular focus on literary and cinematic flows between the two nations at the time of normalisation of relations in 1965. 

3.  Pedagogy in East Asian Studies (with Dr Daniel R Hammond, University of Edinburgh)

This project investigates 'ways of thinking and practising' in East Asian Studies in order to understand variations in institutional cultures of East Asian Studies, and to enhance teaching practice.  Our initial investigation was funded by Edinburgh University's Principal's Teaching Award Scheme

Current project grants

Co-recipient with Daniel Hammond of a Principal's Teaching Award Scheme (PTAS) Grant for a project titled: 'Ways of Thinking and Practising in Chinese and Japanese Studies' (2012)

View all 23 publications on Research Explorer