Dudden, Alexis 1969–

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Dudden, Alexis 1969–

(Alexis Bray Dudden)


Born May 26, 1969; daughter of Arthur P. (a history professor) and Adrianne (a graphic artist) Dudden; married Michael Woodbury Eastwood, November 8, 1997. Education: Columbia University, B.A. (magna cum laude), 1991; University of Chicago, M.A., Ph.D. (with distinction), 1998; also studied at Rikkyo University and Keio University in Tokyo, Japan, and Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea.


Office—Department of History, Connecticut College, 201 Winthrop Hall, 270 Mohegan Ave., New London, CT 06320-4196. E-mail—[email protected].


Connecticut College, New London, associate professor of history, 1998—.


International and Area Studies Fellowship, ACLS/SSRC/National Endowment for the Humanities, 2001; Freeman Foundation travel award, 2001; research fellowship, Japan Foundation, 2001-02; Fulbright-Hays Fellowship, U.S. Department of Education, 2002-03; Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities; Toyota Teaching Fellowship; Wayne C. Booth Graduate Teaching Prize, University of Chicago; Century Fellow, University of Chicago.


Japan's Colonization of Korea: Discourse and Power, University of Hawaii Press (Honolulu, HI), 2005.

Troubled Apologies among Japan, Korea, and the United States, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 2008.

Contributor to books, including Tokens of Exchange: The Problem of Translation in Global Circulation, edited by Lydia Liu, Duke University Press; and Truth Claims: Representation and Human Rights, edited by Mark Bradley and Patrice Petro, Rutgers University Press, 2002. Contributor to periodicals, including Critical Asian Studies and Journal of Asian Studies.


With a father who was a history professor at Bryn Mawr College and a mother who was an artist, Alexis Dudden grew up in an intellectual and artistic home full of books. She was exposed to such classics as Homer's Iliad at the early age of five, and she grew to love literature and history. When it came time to attend college, however, she first considered studying geology but instead turned to another love: Asian history. She earned a bachelor's degree in East Asian studies from Columbia University in 1991 and then did her graduate studies at the University of Chicago, completing her Ph.D. in 1998. While a student in Chicago, she was known by her friends for embracing the Japanese lifestyle, even sleeping on mats on the floor in the manner of that country's traditions, as well as for throwing wonderful dinner parties in her tiny apartment. She also studied at universities in Japan and Korea, and she became fluent in Japanese and proficient in Korean and French. Dudden's "doctoral dissertation focused on Japan's takeover of Korea in the late 19th century," according to a biography on the Connecticut College Web site, "arguing that Japan's manipulation of the legal lexicon of colonial exploitation was crucial for establishing the international perception of Japan as a ‘legal’ nation early in the twentieth century." Japan's use of international law to its advantage became the focus of her first book, Japan's Colonization of Korea: Discourse and Power.

What exactly led to Japan's annexation of Korea into its empire is a matter for some debate among historians. While some feel that a tide of inevitable events led to the attempted colonization of Korea, other historians believe that it was a very deliberate plan on the part of the Japanese. According to Bonnie B.C. Oh in a review for the Historian, Dudden's Japan's Colonization of Korea takes the latter "position by default." The author, Oh explained, is not actually trying to prove this position, but rather "sets out to look at a hitherto ignored aspect of Japanese imperial success: translating international law into Japanese and using its terms in practice." During the Meiji era of Japan, the country's leaders had ended a long period of international isolation and were becoming knowledgeable about how world relations worked. While international laws were not as evolved and well-defined as they are today, there were treaties and agreements that Japan was able to take advantage of. Dudden's book has been acknowledged by her colleagues as the first scholarly work to recognize how Japan's rulers cleverly used international laws for its ambitions toward empire and how this also spurred on its militarization and industrialization in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Oh pointed out, however, that the title of the book is misleading because Dudden goes beyond the annexation of Korea in 1907 and follows Japan's history leading up to World War II.

The first half of the twentieth century was a period of fervent nationalism in Japan, and Dudden asserts that the surge toward empire was not only a matter of increased military might, but also a popular movement spurred on by highly effective government propaganda. As the author stated in her book: "By illustrating the fusion of power and words, this book aims to confound the view that only military strength truly prevails in power politics." Korea was viewed by the Japanese as a hostile and barbaric land filled with anarchists, guerrillas, and rebels with aims of causing unrest in Japan. In her chapter "Illegal Korea," Dudden explains how Japanese diplomats successfully argued before the League of Nations' Permanent Court of International Justice at the Hague that Korea was an outlaw state—accusing the country of supporting attempts to assassinate the Japanese governor-general—and that Japan's intercession was actually legal. Representatives from Korea also went to the Hague to plead their case, but their arguments fell on deaf ears, and the international community ended up supporting Japan's takeover of the peninsula.

Some critics of Japan's Colonization of Korea saw the book as "yet another work attempting to justify Japan's colonialism," as Oh put it. Oh accused Dudden of using "provocative language" to sensationalize its viewpoint. However, the critic asserted that while this might detract from the book, it is still "praiseworthy because it is also well written and cogently argued." Micah Auerback, writing for the Journal of East Asian Studies, felt that "Dudden's valuable new study, which innovatively reexamines the processes that preceded and established Japanese colonial control over Korea, is a welcome intervention into academic debate on this period." In Pacific Affairs, Kyu Hyun Kim found some problems with Dudden's Korean translations, but overall praised the work for its research and original thinking. The critic found the chapters on "The Vocabulary of Power" and "Mission Législatrice" the most intriguing, especially the argument that "Japan did not act treacherously but… imperialistically and with the approval of the international arena." Kim concluded: "Dudden's ambitious book is a welcome addition to historical studies of the Japanese colonial empire. It will serve as an excellent departure point for further investigations into the processes leading to the annexation of Korea."



American Historical Review, October, 2005, James L. Huffman, review of Japan's Colonization of Korea: Discourse and Power, p. 1147.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, July 1, 2005, C.L. Yates, review of Japan's Colonization of Korea, p. 2043.

Historian, summer, 2006, Bonnie B.C. Oh, review of Japan's Colonization of Korea.

International History Review, June, 2006, Frederick R. Dickinson, review of Japan's Colonization of Korea, p. 411.

Journal of Asian Studies, May, 2006, Nam-lin Hur, review of Japan's Colonization of Korea, p. 424.

Journal of East Asian Studies, September 1, 2006, Micah Auerback, review of Japan's Colonization of Korea, p. 465.

Pacific Affairs, summer, 2006, Kyu Hyun Kim, review of Japan's Colonization of Korea.

Reference & Research Book News, February, 2005, review of Japan's Colonization of Korea, p. 54.


Connecticut College Web site,http://www.conncoll.edu/ (April 9, 2008), faculty profile.