Ikuko Asaka

If you made any changes in Pure, your changes will be visible here soon.

Personal profile

Personal profile

I am a historian of the United States with an emphasis on the nineteenth century, imperialism, race, gender, and sexuality. Trained in U.S. and Japanese institutions, I have always taken comparative and transnational approaches in my study of history. 

Research Interests

U.S. expansion through 1898; racialized labor, geography, and environment; gender and sexuality; Pacific/Atlantic world

Professional Information

My first book, Tropical Freedom: Climate, Settler Colonialism, and Black Exclusion in the Age of Emancipation (Duke, 2017), argues that during the late eighteenth and mid nineteenth centuries British and American expansionists and free black activists produced different imaginings of an Atlantic world that variously and often contrastingly mapped black freedom within its geographic bounds and that these conflicting geographies of race and freedom became inseparably intertwined with U.S. and British North American settler colonial formations.  Importantly, both promoters and protesters of geographic management of race employed tropes of domesticity and intra-racial reproduction as well as climatic idioms born of the centuries-long development of the plantation economies in the Americas. These languages not only underpinned legal, political, and ideological initiatives to exclude free blacks from settler colonial privileges but also suffused free black politics against them.   

I am currently working on two projects: tracing the origins of U.S. insular imperialism spanning the Pacific and Caribbean and investigating the impact of U.S. expansion into East Asia on domestic racial formations and on the development of Japanese racial identity. 


PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Gender and Women's History Program, 2010

MA, Doshisha University, American Studies

BA, Doshisha University, Political Science

Honors & Awards

Lincoln Excellence for Assistant Professors Award, 2016-18
American Council of Learned Societies, New Faculty Fellowship, Women's and Gender Studies, Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey, 2012-13


HIST275 African American History to 1877
HIST285 History of Gender in the United States
HIST385 Transnational Sexualities
HIST482 Slavery in the United States
HIST570 Race, Gender, and Sexuality in North American Colonialisms

Office Address

419C Greg Hall
810 S. Wright St.
M/C 466
Urbana, IL 61801

Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the expert's scholarly documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

  • 8 Similar Profiles
racism Social Sciences
colonialism Earth & Environmental Sciences
exile Social Sciences
slave Social Sciences
railroad Social Sciences
fraternity Social Sciences
Law Social Sciences
diplomat Social Sciences

Research Output 2012 2018

Different Tales of John Glasgow: John Brown’s Evolution to Slave Life in Georgia

Asaka, I., Apr 1 2018, In : Journal of Black Studies. 49, 3, p. 212-234 23 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Exiles in America: Canadian Anti-Black Racism and the Meaning of Nation in the Age of the 1848 Revolutions

Asaka, I., Apr 15 2018, Race and Nation in the Age of Emancipations. Stewart, W. N. & Marks, J. G. (eds.). Athens: University of Georgia Press, p. 53-68 16 p. (Race in the Atlantic World, 1700-1900).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Lucretia mott and the Underground Railroad: The transatlantic world of a radical American woman

Asaka, I., Dec 1 2018, In : Journal of the Early Republic. 38, 4, p. 613-642 30 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Underground Railroad
eighteenth century
tropical region

Review: R. M. Reid's African Canadians in Union Blue: Volunteering for the Cause in the Civil War

Asaka, I., Feb 1 2016, In : Journal of Southern History. 82, 1, p. 173-174 2 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review