Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
Columbia University
Website URL
Modern Japanese history, East Asia, WWII, Gender
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

Sarah Kovner is a Senior Research Scholar at the Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University. She has been a Fellow in International Security Studies at Yale University and a tenured Associate Professor of History at the University of Florida. 

Kovner’s first book, Occupying Power: Sex Workers and Servicemen in Postwar Japan, was a Choice Outstanding Academic Title, and won the best book prize of the Southeast Conference Association for Asian Studies. Her new book, Prisoners of the Empire: Inside Japanese POW Camps, will be published by Harvard University Press in September 2020. Her work has been published in the Journal of Asian Studies, the Journal of Women’s History, and Diplomatic History. Her work has also been translated into Japanese and Chinese. 

Kovner received her A.B. from Princeton University and her Ph.D. from Columbia, and also studied at Kyoto University and the University of Tokyo. She is an active member of the Association of Asian Studies, the American Historical Association, and the Society for Historians of Foreign Relations. She lives in New York City.

Recent Publications

Prisoners of the Empire: POWs and their Captors in the Pacific War (Harvard University Press, 2020).

Occupying Power: Sex Workers and Servicemen in Postwar Japan (Stanford University Press, 2012; paperback 2013).
Choice Outstanding Academic Title, 2012
Winner of Southeast Conference Association for Asian Studies book prize, 2014

-“A War of Words: Allied Captivity and Swiss Neutrality in the Pacific, 1941-1945,” Diplomatic History 41:4 (September 2017).

-“The Soundproofed Superpower: U.S. Bases and Japanese Communities, 1945-1972,” Journal of Asian Studies 75:1 (February 2016), 87-109.

-“Selling Sex under Occupation: The American-Japanese Encounter after 1945,” Journal of Asian Studies 68: 3 (August 2009): 777-804.

“Captivity on the Home Front: Allied POWs in Fukuoka during WWII,” in Sandra Wilson, Robert Cribb, and Christina Toomey ed., Detention Camps in Postwar Asia (Forthcoming, Brill).

“Anti-America Bases in Japan: Social Movements and Political Accommodation 1945-1972” in Chunmei Du ed., The United States and East Asia during the Cold War (forthcoming, Fudan University Press) [in Chinese].

“Allied POWs in Colonial Koreain Barak Kushner and Sherzod Muminov ed., The  Dismantling of Japan’s Empire in East Asia: Deimperialization, Postwar  Legitimation, and Imperial Afterlife (Routledge, 2017)

Media Coverage
Country Focus
Expertise by Geography
East Asia, Japan
Expertise by Chronology
Modern, 20th century, 21st century
Expertise by Topic
Gender, Military, Sexuality, World War II