August 21, 2020: I will be on fellowship leave January 2021-December 2021. I will not be teaching courses or supervising independent studies during this time.
My research explores the social, cultural, and technological history of mobility in twentieth century Japan and the Japanese Empire. I teach graduate and undergraduate courses on modern and recent Japanese history, the history of empire, and critical global history.
Research and Teaching Interests:
- Mobility and Society in Twentieth-Century Japan
- Critical Geography and Modern Empire in Asia and the Pacific
- Spatial History and Spatial Humanities
- The Rickshaw and the Railroad: Human-Powered Transport in the Age of the Machine
I’m revisiting the history of mobility in modern Japan through its forgotten technologies—rickshaws, human-powered railways, and feet. You can watch a brief talk about the project on UC TV.
- Bodies and Structures: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History
In collaboration with David R. Ambaras (History, NCSU), this multi-year digital project brings together scholars of early modern and modern Japan, East Asia, and Southeast Asia to interrogate the spatial history of East Asia from the seventeenth to the twenty-first centuries. We launched Bodies and Structures 1.0 in January 2019. Stay tuned for Version 2.0!
Books and Edited Volumes:
- Placing Empire: Travel and the Social Imagination in Imperial Japan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2017)
- International Convention of Asia Scholars Book Prize ENGLISH LANGUAGE EDITION SOCIAL SCIENCES Longlist 2019, International Convention of Asia Scholars.
- Open Access! Read now at luminosoa.org.
- Paperback available at ucpress.edu and amazon.com.
- Watch a short interview with Prof. McDonald about Placing Empire.
- Listen to an interview about the book with Dr. Tristan Grunow on the “Meiji at 150” podcast.
- Mobility in History: The Yearbook of the International Association of the History of Transport, Traffic, and Mobility 7 (New York: Berghahn Journals, 2016). Editor, “Modern Mobilities: Asia.”
Digital Projects and Essays:
- Bodies and Structures 1.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History (with David R. Ambaras, NCSU)
- David R. Ambaras and Kate McDonald, “What We’re Doing,” in Bodies and Structures: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History, ed. David R. Ambaras and Kate McDonald. 2019.
- Bodies and Structures is a platform for researching and teaching spatial histories of East Asia and the larger worlds of which they were a part. Built using the open-source platform Scalar, the site combines individually-authored, media-rich content modules with conceptual maps and visualizations, which reveal thematic, historical, and geographic connections between the modules. Each module is based around a translated primary source or sources. These translations are also included in the site.
- People-Works: The Labor of Transport
- Kate McDonald, “People-Works: The Labor of Transport, An Introduction,” in People-Works: The Labor of Transport, ed. Kate McDonald. 2018.
- A special exhibit on the labor of transport for the Mobility in History Blog, the official blog of the International Association for the History of Transport, Traffic, and Mobility. The exhibit opened online in November 2018.
- “Olympic Recoveries,” Journal of Asian Studies 79, no. 3 (2020): 599-608. Reprinted in Vinayak Chaturvedi, ed., The Pandemic: Perspectives on Asia (New York: Association for Asian Studies, distributed by Columbia University Press, 2020).
- “Looking for Empires: Japanese Colonialism and the Comparative Gaze,” Comparativ 30, no. 3/4 (2020): 174-187.
- “War, Firsthand, at a Distance: Battlefield Tourism and Conflicts of Memory in the Multiethnic Japanese Empire,” Japan Review 33, Special Issue on War and Tourism (2019): 57-85.
- “Speaking Japanese: Language and the Expectation of Empire,” in The Affect of Difference: Representations of Race in the Japanese Empire, ed. Christopher P. Hanscom and Dennis Washburn, 159-179 (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2016).
- “Asymmetrical Integration: Lessons from a Railway Empire,” Technology and Culture 56, no. 1 (2015): 115-149.
- “Imperial Mobility: Circulation as History in East Asia under Empire,” Transfers 4, no. 3 (2014): 68-87.
- “Intermodality and Beyond: Toward a New History of Mobility in Japan,” Mobility in History 5 (2014): 161-169.
- Read the capsule version at the Mobility in History Blog.
- “Ryôdo, rekishi, aidentitii: Sen-Man kankô to dai Nihon teikoku no keisei” (History, territory, identity: Sen-Man tourism and the making of the Japanese empire), Contact Zone no. 5 (2012): 1-18.
- “Discussion: Tourism and Race” (with Jenny Chio, Tiffany Gill, Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez, Stephen L. Harp, Adam T. Rosenbaum, Susan S. Rugh, and Lynnell L. Thomas), Journal of Tourism History 12, no. 2 (2020): 173-197.
Honors and Professional Activities:
- Gerda Henkel Research Scholarship, 2021-2022
- Series Co-Editor, Johns Hopkins Studies in the History of Technology, 2021-
- NEH Digital Humanities Advancement Grant (Level II), 2019
- Associate Editor, Journal of Asian Studies, 2019-
- UC President’s Faculty Research Fellowship in the Humanities, 2015-2016
- Hellman Fellowship, 2013-2014
- Regents’ Junior Faculty Fellowship, 2013-2014
- Fulbright (Japan-US Educational Commission), 2008-2009