Universiteit Leiden

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Timothy de Zeeuw


W.J.T. de Zeeuw MPhil
+31 70 800 9950

Timothy de Zeeuw is lecturer and PhD candidate at International Studies and PhD candidate at LIAS.

More information about Timothy de Zeeuw

Fields of interest

Modern Japanese history, with a specific emphasis on Japanese imperialism and settler colonialism, comparative studies of modern colonialism and imperialism; military history

PhD Research

Imperial subjects as local nationals: Official and public placing of imperial subjects in Karafuto and the South Seas Islands (Nan’yō) within the hierarchy of the Japanese empire, 1905-1941.

Supervisors: Dr. E. Mark, Prof. dr. N. K. Wickramasinghe

As the Japanese empire expanded and developed from the late nineteenth century onward, it became increasingly important to clearly define the boundaries between the colonising Japanese and their colonial subjects. These distinctions, however, were continuously in flux as debates on and policies and practices of inclusion and exclusion adapted to the needs and desires of both the colonial government and – at times – its subjects. These dynamics are commonly presented as a result of a pragmatic and materialist tension between the Japanese government and Japanese nationals on the one hand and the colonised subjects on the other. Such narratives emphasise a colonial relationship between the “Japanese” who wanted to increase their exploitation of the colonies and the “colonised” who resisted colonialism outright, claimed more rights as subjects of the empire or collaborated. Evidence from the Japanese settler colonies of Karafuto and Nan’yō, however, point to a historical reality where these divisions were less neatly defined. Drastic differences in the treatment of colonial subjects and “Japanese” in these colonies indicate the existence of an ideologically constituted spatial hierarchy which shaped dynamics of inclusion and exclusion for all the empire’s subjects. This project investigates the role of spatial politics, geopolitical concerns and ideology in policy, discourse, and practice in the Japanese empire. It does so specifically by focussing on how these dynamics were expressed in the realm of formal and social education in the colonies of Karafuto and Nan’yō. Through analysing primary sources from government officials, semi- and non-governmental organisations, and public discourse and practice, this project aims to show how the place of colonised and “Japanese” inhabitants of these colonies within the larger hierarchy of the Japanese empire was identified and negotiated and how this affected their lives.


M.A. Area Studies: Asia and the Middle East (research), Cum Laude, Leiden University, 2014
B.A. Japanese Languages and Cultures, Leiden University, 2010

Lecturer, B.A. International Studies programme, Faculty of Humanities, Leiden University, 2014-2016 & 2017-2021

A broad range of courses, spanning from introductory courses in politics, cultural studies, pragmatics, sociolinguistics, and philosophy of science to courses closer to my own specialisation such as introduction to area studies, histories of (North) East Asia, economies of (North) East Asia, Race and Racism in (East) Asia and international politics. 


  • Isaac Alfred Ailion Foundation PhD Fellowship, 2021-2025
  • Leids Universteits Fonds (LUF) Internationaal Studiefonds prize, 2013
  • Leids Universiteits Fonds Internationaal Studiefonds, 2012


  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Faculteitsbureau
  • International Studies

Work address

Turfmarkt 99
2511 DP The Hague
Room number 5.01


PhD candidate

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Leiden Institute for Area Studies
  • SAS Japan
  • No relevant ancillary activities
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