Ikuko Asaka

 Ikuko Asaka

Contact Information

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


I am a historian of the United States with an emphasis on the nineteenth century, empire, U.S. in the world, African American history, and women, gender and sexuality. Trained in U.S. and Japanese institutions, I have always taken comparative and transnational approaches in my study of history. In all of my work, I explore how race and its related processes—class, gender, and sexuality—organized and were organized by global structures and circumstances as well as by systems of exclusion and inclusion at national, colonial, and imperial levels.

Research Interests

  • Nineteenth century; U.S. in the world; expansion; African American history; women, gender, and sexuality; Atlantic/Pacific worlds


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

Distinctions / Awards

  • Lincoln Excellence for Assistant Professors Award, 2016-18
  • ACLS 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

Selected Publications


Photo of publication
Tropical Freedom: Climate, Settler Colonialism, and Black Exclusion in the Age of Emancipation Duke University Press 2017. Website.

Journal Articles

'Colored Men of the East': African Americans and the Instability of Race in US-Japan Relations American Quarterly 66 4 2014, p. 971-997.
'Our Brethren in the West Indies’: Self Emancipated People in Canada and the Antebellum Politics of Diaspora and Empire Journal of African American History 97 3 2012, p. 219-239.

Book Contributions

Exiles in America: Canadian Anti-Black Racism and the Meaning of Nation in the Age of the 1848 Revolutions Race and Nation in the Age of Emancipations (Race in the Atlantic World series) Exiles in America: Canadian Anti-Black Racism and the Meaning of Nation in the Age of the 1848 Revolutions University of Georgia Press 2018.

In The News