Department of History

Bill Sewell Profile

Associate Professor 
B.Sc. (University of Wisconsin, Madison)
M.A. (University of California, Davis)
Ph.D. (University of British Columbia)

Office: MN 226 
Phone: 420-5755
Fax: 420-5141


Bill Sewell arrived at Saint Mary's in the fall of 2000, having taught at post-secondary institutions in Canada, Japan, France, and the United States. His research interests pertain to the modern era in Japanese and Chinese history, focusing especially on urban issues, cultural perspectives, and the history of the Japanese empire. His research has been supported by SSHRC, the Japan Association for International Education (Nihon Kokusai Kyouiku Kyoukai), the University of British Columbia, and Saint Mary's University.

Professor Sewell is currently a List Editor for H-NEAsia (  He is a Member-at-Large for the Japan Studies Association of Canada (JSAC; and has served as Secretary-Treasurer and Conference Organizer.  He is also a past Member-at-Large on the East Asia Council Executive Committee for the Canadian Asian Studies Association (CASA;


Most of Professor Sewell's courses explore the history of eastern Asia, especially the histories of China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, and Vietnam and their interactions.  He is currently also offering the single required course for majors in History at Saint Mary's University (HIST 3000 The Discipline of History) and the capstone course in Asian Studies (ASNT 4400 Seminar in Asian Studies). 


Constructing Empire: The Japanese in Changchun, 1905-45 (Vancouver: UBC Press, forthcoming)

with Norio Ota, “Sakuta Shōichi, ‘The Light of Asia’,” in Jonathan Henshaw, Craig Smith, and Norman Smith, eds., in Translating the Japanese Occupation of China (Vancouver: UBC Press, forthcoming) 

John Lee, Seven Crucial Centuries: Changes in Premodern Chinese Society and Economy, 499 BCE – 1800 CE, ed. Bill Sewell (Halifax: Department of History, Saint Mary’s University, 2016)

"Introduction" and "Manufacturing Japan in Manchuria," in Bill Sewell, ed., Resilient Japan:  Papers Presented at the 24th Annual Conference of the Japan Studies Association of Canada, Halifax: Japan Studies Association of Canada, 2013, pp. 6-8, 204-24 (e-book pagination differs)

"Meiji-Taisho Japan," in Jill Cooper-Robinson, ed.,
 John Cooper Robinson: Photographs from Meiji-Taisho Japan, Blurb, 2012 (non-academic publication; first exhibited at the 24th Annual Conference of the Japan Studies Association of Canada, the John Cooper Robinson Collection is now destined for the Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC in collaboration with the Pacific Rim Digital Library and Archives, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA)

“Beans to Banners: The Evolving Architecture of Pre-War Changchun," in Laura Victoir and Victor Zatsepine, eds., Harbin to Hanoi: Colonial Built Environment in Asia, 1840 to 1940, Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2012, pp. 37-57

"Manshuukoku kokuto 'Shinkyou' no datsukouchiku" (Manchukuo's "New Capital" in Contemporary Perspectives), in Ezra Vogel and Hirano Ken'ichirou, eds., Nitchuu sensouki Chuugoku no shakai to bunka (Chinese Society and Culture during the Sino-Japanese War), Tokyo: Keio University Press, 2010, pp. 291-327

"Feng Yuxiang," "Harriman Affair," "Manchuria," "South Manchuria Railway," and "Warlordism," in Yuwu Song, ed., Encyclopedia of Chinese-American Relations, McFarland & Company, 2006, pp. 105-6, 128-9, 185-6, 263-4, 306-7

"Crisis, War, and Culture: The Global Significance of Japanese National Cultures," in Joseph F. Kess and Helen Landsowne, eds., Why Japan Matters!, Victoria: Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives, 2005, pp. 98-108

"Reconsidering the Modern in Japanese History: Modernity in the Service of the Prewar Japanese Empire," Japan Review 16 (2004), pp. 213-58 (available at:

"Kyuu Manshuu ni okeru senzen Nihon no machizukuri katsudou" (Prewar Japanese City Making in Manchuria), Nichibunken Foramu (Nichibunken Forum) 160 (December 2003), 30 pp. (available at:

"Postwar Japan and Manchuria," in David W. Edgington, ed., Japan at the Millennium: Joining Past and Future, Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2003, pp. 97-119

"Railway Outpost and Puppet Capital: Urban Expressions of Japanese Imperialism in Changchun, 1905-1945," in Gregory Blue, Martin Bunton, and Ralph Crozier, eds., Colonialism and the Modern World: Selected Studies, Armonk, NY: ME Sharpe, 2002, pp. 283-98

"Japanese Imperialism and Civic Construction in Manchuria: Changchun, 1905-1945," Ph.D. dissertation, University of British Columbia, 2000 (available at:

More than forty book reviews published in the Canadian Journal of History, Historical GeographyPacific Affairs, Progress in Development Studies, and the University of Toronto Quarterly, as well as on H-Net (H-Diplo, H-HistGeog, H-Japan, and H-US-Japan)