Research Interests: East Asian history; Japanese history; legal and intellectual history; international history; social policy; and the history of the family
Colin Jones is a historian of East Asia from the nineteenth century to the present. He focuses on legal and intellectual history, international history, social policy, and the history of the family. He received his PhD from Columbia University in 2017 and spent the past year as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard’s Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies.
Colin’s manuscript, tentatively titled “Searching for Social Order: Capitalism, Empire, and the Making of Modern Law in Japan,” explores the intersection of a global social turn in legal thought and a national effort to manage the dislocations of the market economy and a growing empire. It argues that in the wake of World War I, professional jurists in Japan reimagined the legal system as an instrument of social policy. It then traces how their efforts to realize this vision in Japan and northern China gave rise to new legislation, legal practices, and conceptions of society and gender that have endured into the present.
At the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, he is revising his manuscript for publication. Colin is also at work on two articles: one that shows how a legal theory developed in the Austro-Hungarian empire has shaped our understanding of Chinese society; another that examines how transformations in the international legal framework governing conflicts, commonly known as the laws of war, have changed the grounds of a longstanding debate about Japan’s constitutional commitment to pacifism.