Emma Cook degree icon


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Research Faculty of Media and Communication, Hokkaido University

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Feel free to contact me at:

godart [at] imc.hokudai.ac.jp

Curriculum Vitae


Lecturer, Modern Japanese Studies Program, Hokkaido University, 2015-

Assistant Professor, University of Southern California, Department of History, 2011-2015

Research and Teaching Fellow, University of Cambridge, Needham Research Institute & Faculty for Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (2009-2011)


PhD. History, The University of Chicago, 2009

M.A. Japanese Studies, Osaka University of Foreign Studies (Osaka University), 2004

M.A. Japanese Studies, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, 2002, maxima cum laude

B.A. Japanese Studies, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, 1999, cum laude

Candidature, Philosophy, Catholic University of Leuven, 1997

Research Interests

Modern Japanese history, religions in Japan, intellectual history, history of science, nationalism, ideology, military history

Research Description

I am an historian interested in the intellectual history of Japan. I look at the intersections of religion, science, and politics in modern Japan. My first book, titled Darwin, Dharma, and the Divine: Evolutionary Theory and Religion in Modern Japanese Thought explores the religious reception of evolutionary theory in Japan, and its political ramifications. I am also studying Nichiren Buddhism in the East-Asia League Movement and among key officers in the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy.



Darwin, the Dharma, and the Divine: Evolutionary Theory and Religion in Modern Japan (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press and the Weatherhead Institute at Columbia University, 2017.)



“Nichirenism, Utopianism, and Modernity: Rethinking Ishiwara Kanji’s East-Asia League Movement,” Japanese Journal for Religious Studies, 42/2, December 2015, pp. 235-274.

“Herbert Spencer in Japan: Boom and Bust of A Theory (1868-1911)” in Bernard Lightman (Ed.), Global Spencerism: The Communication and Appropriation of a British Evolutionist (Leiden: Brill, 2015), pp. 56-77.

“Tezuka Osamu’s Circle of Life: Vitalism, Evolution, and Buddhism,” Mechademia (University of Minnesota Press) November 2013, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp. 34 – 47.

““Philosophy” or “Religion”? The Confrontation with Foreign Categories in Late Nineteenth Century Japan,” Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 69, No.1, January 2008, pp. 71-91.

“From Moss Animals to Philosophy: Oka Asajirō, Modern Japan’s pioneer in the Philosophy of Biology and Evolutionary Theory,” Studies in Japanese Philosophy (in Japanese: “Kokemushi kara tetsugaku made: seibutsugaku, shinkaron no tetsugaku no senkusha toshite no Oka Asajirō,” Nihon tetsugakushi kenkyū, Vol. 4, 2007, pp. 75-99.)

“Tracing the Circle of Truth: Inoue Enryō on the History of Philosophy and Buddhism,” The Eastern Buddhist (Vol. XXXVI, December 2004), pp. 106-133.

Other publications

“Inoue Enryō”; Introduction and translation for Sourcebook in Japanese Philosophy, edited by James W. Heisig, John Maraldo, and Thomas P. Kasulis. (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2011.), p. 611-618.

“Inoue Tetsujirō”; Introduction and translation for Sourcebook in Japanese Philosophy, edited by James W. Heisig, John Maraldo, and Thomas P. Kasulis. (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2011.), p. 619-630.

“Nagai Kafu’s Occidentalism: Defining the Japanese Self, by Rachael Hutchinson,” The International Journal of Asian Studies, volume 11, issue 1 (2014), pp. 107-108 (Book Review).

Presentations, Talks, & Papers

“Buddhist Receptions of Evolutionary Theory in Modern Japan,” panel “Buddhism, Science, and Ideology in Modern Japan,” XXI World Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions, Erfurt, Germany, 27 August 2015 (read in absentia).

“Aspects of the Popularization of Evolutionary Theory in Japan,” Symposium “Popularizing Science, East and West,” University of Tokyo, 27-28 March, 2015.

“Buddhism, War, and Technology: Rethinking Ishiwara Kanji and the East-Asia League,” at “Asian Buddhism: Plural Colonialisms and Plural Modernities” Workshop, December 12-14, 2014, at Ryūkoku University in Kyoto, Japan.

“War, Utopianism, and Buddhism in the East-Asia League,” CJRC Conference, “Approaches to Wartime Japan: Militarism, Fascism, and Religion,” held at University of California, May 3, 2014

“The China War and the East-Asia League,” paper presented at panel “Japanese State and Society in the China War: The Ideological Ecology of Wartime Japan,” SEC/AAS Conference, held at Duke University January 2014

“Herbert Spencer in Japan: Boom and Bust of A Theory (1868-1911)” 24th International Congress of History of Science, Technology and Medicine, Manchester, July 2013

“The Power of Place: Religion, Science, and the Environment in the Thought and Activism of Minakata Kumagusu,” invited talk at conference “Forests, Waters, and Cities:  Approaches to the Environment in Japan and Global Contexts,” University of Southern California, March9, 2013.

“Ishiwara Kanji, the East-Asia League and Utopianism in Shōwa Japan,” paper presented at conference “Buddhist Futures: Conceptions of Modernity and Temporality in Modern Japanese Buddhism,” held at the University of Southern California, November 9, 2012.

“Showa Utopianism: Ishiwara Kanji and the East-Asia League” (in Japanese), invited talk at Meiji University-USC Research Exchange, January 25, 2011

“Evolutionary Theory in Modern Japanese Intellectual History” (In Japanese, “Kindai nihon shisōshi ni okeru shinkaron”), invited talk at Osaka University, March 20, 2011

“Overcoming Modernity, Overcoming Darwin” invited talk at Oxford University, March 2011

“Evolutionary Theory and the State in Early Shōwa Japan (1930-1945)”, Conference “Science and the State in Asia,” Needham Research Institute, December 2010

“Darwin in Japan: Reflections on Science and Ideology,” invited talk at Sokendai University, Japan, April 20, 2010

“Transmission of Science as Construction: The Import of Darwinism in Meiji Japan” Conference, “Genealogies of Science in Asia: Cross-Cultural Appropriation”, invited talk at University of Cambridge, December 3-4, 2009

“Darwin in Japan: The Struggle for the Soul of Evolutionary Theory” invited talk at the Asia Center, University of Virginia, April 2008

“Buddhism in the Age of Science”, Seventh Annual Japan at Chicago Conference: “Buddhism and Japan’s Modern”, The University of Chicago, October 30, 2008

“The Problem of Japanese Philosophy: Some Reflections on the Meiji Period”, Techny Conference on the Sourcebook for Japanese Philosophy, Nanzan University, Nagoya, June 2008 (In Japanese)

Awards, Fellowships, and Funding

D Kim Foundation Fellowship for the History of Science & Technology in East-Asia, 2014-2015

British Academy Research Grant, 2011

British Sasakawa Foundation Grant, 2010

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Writing Fellowship (declined), 2009

Japan Foundation Research Fellowship, 2006

Century Fellowship, The University of Chicago, 2004-2009

Monbukagakusho (Japanese Ministry of Education) Long Term Scholarship, 2002-2004

Teaching & Courses Developed

“Introduction to Japanese Civilization” (TA), The University of Chicago, 2009

“History of Science and Society in Japan,” University of Cambridge, 2009-2011

“Buddhism and Modernity in East Asia,” University of Cambridge (MA lectures) 2009

“History of Science and Technology in Japan,” University of Cambridge (MA lectures)

“Modern Japanese History Graduate Seminar” (Spring, 2011)

“History of Japan,” University of Southern California, Spring 2012

“Japan and the Asia-Pacific War” (upper level undergraduate seminar, Spring 2013)

“The Second World War,” University of Southern California, Fall 2013

“Religion and Modernity in Japan,” Hokkaido University, 2015

Graduate Student Mentoring

M.A. Thesis committee chair, USC, 2011-2012

Qualifying Examination committee member of several PhD. students in history, USC

PhD. Dissertation committee, USC, Benjamin Uchiyama, 2013; Annie Marion, 2014; Miek Deneckere, University of Cambridge, 2015


Association for Asian Studies
American Historical Association
Society for the History of Modern Japanese Buddhism

Conferences Organized

“Approaches to Wartime Japan: Militarism, Fascism, and Religion,” CJRC conference, held at University of California, May 3, 2014 (co-organized with John Person)

Conceptions of Time and Modernity in Modern Japanese Buddhism” in cooperation with the Center for Japanese Religions and Culture at the University of Southern California, November 9, 2012

“Science and State in Modern Asia” (together with Christopher Cullen, director of the Needham Research Institute), at the Needham Research Institute, Cambridge, in cooperation with International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS), Leiden, December 2-3, 2010