The United States has launched numerous projects of military occupation and nation-building in foreign lands since the late ninteenth century. These have been contradictory enterprises, carrying ideals of freedom and self-determination offered by force or by fiat. This course assesses the meanings and legacies of these projects by examining the ideas, strategies, policies, and outcomes of occupations ranging from the Philippines and Haiti early on to Japan, Germany, and Korea in mid-century to, most recently, Afghanistan and Iraq. The course focuses on American activities and ideas but also examines the responses of the occupied. The recorded lectures are from the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences course United States in the World 38.

Meet The Author

Andrew Gordon

Andrew Gordon

Lee and Juliet Folger Fund Professor of History

Andrew Gordon is the Lee and Juliet Folger Fund Professor of History at Harvard University. His teaching and research focus primarily on modern Japan. He has also taught Japan’s premodern history and courses on comparative history of labor. His most recent publication is Fabricating Consumers: The Sewing Machine in Modern Japan (University of California Press, 2011), on the emergence of the modern consumer in Japan, using the sewing machine as window on that story. An earlier book, Labor and Imperial Democracy in Prewar Japan (University of California Press, 1991) won the John King Fairbank Prize in 1992 for the best book on modern East Asian history, and was a finalist for the 1992 Arisawa Hiromi Prize for the best book on Japan. His textbook, A Modern History of Japan, was published in fall 2002 by Oxford University Press, and in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean translations. The third edition was published in 2013. Gordon has served as chair of the Harvard History Department (2004-07) and director of the Reischauer Institute for Japanese Studies (1998-2004 and 2010-2011). Before joining the Harvard faculty he was a member of the history department at Duke. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1981 in History and East Asian Languages. In 2014 he was elected as member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Erez Manela

Erez Manela

Professor of History, Harvard University

Manela is the author of the prize-winning book The Wilsonian Moment: Self-Determination and the International Origins of Anticolonial Nationalism (Oxford University Press, 2009) and co-editor of The Shock of the Global: The 1970s in Perspective (Harvard University Press, 2011), and has published numerous articles, chapters, and reviews. He has lectured across the US and elsewhere, including in Australia, China, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, and the UK. He has appeared on radio and in TV documentaries both in the US and abroad.

His research has been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, among others. He is a member of several editorial boards and co-edits a book series on international and global history for Cambridge University Press.

Manela is currently completing a book that situates the World Health Organization's global smallpox eradication program in the 1960s and '70s within the broader history of the postwar era. His most recent research seeks to reexamine the Sino-American alliance in World War II, and what it meant to both Americans and Chinese.


  • PhD Yale University


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