Dr Darren Aoki

Dr Darren Aoki

Lecturer in World History

School of Humanities and Performing Arts (Faculty of Arts and Humanities)


Lecturer in World History

Dr. Aoki's specialisms are in the social and cultural history of modern Japan with a focus on gender and sexuality as it intersects with race and ethnicity. His PhD explored masculinity and same-sex desire in the postwar period in Japan.

More recently, he has turned his attention to issues of identity in the trans-Pacific diaspora of Japanese. Through his research on Nikkei (people of Japanese descent), he has developed methodological and theoretical expertise, including in research,teaching, and community outreach, in oral history.



PhD 2005 University of Cambridge, Oriental Studies; Peterhouse (UK)

  • Dissertation: ‘Sexual Solidarity and the Ethics and Aesthetics of Manliness in Early 1970s Japan’


MA 1997 School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London (UK)

  • Dissertation: ‘By Women, For Women: Women’s Employment in the Occupation Era’***
  • ***Awarded Distinction
  • Awarded Ivan Morris Prize for best dissertation in Japanese Studies in the UK, 1998)


BA History 1990 University of Lethbridge (Canada)

  • Major: Early Modern Western Europe
  • Minor: Modern Western Europe, Modern East Asia

Postgraduate Certificate in Education – Higher Education (Birkbeck,University of London, 2010)

Professional membership

Professional memberships include:

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA)
  • Fellow of Cambridge Commonwealth Society


  • British Association of Japanese Studies
  • Oral History Society, UK
  • Oral History Association, USA
  • British Association of Canadian Studies

Teaching interests

As Lecturer in World History, Dr. Aoki’s resume of modules which he leads or on which he teaches include:


First Year:

  • HIST401: What is History


 Second Year:

  • HIST505: Middle Kingdoms: Themes in the Early Modern History of Japan, China, and/or Korea
  • HIST522: Hearing History, Seeing History: Oral History and Visual Sources***



Third Year:

  • HIST607: Japanese History: from Tokugawa to Hirohito
  • HIST608: PostwarJapan


***Transnational Oral History Masterclass - digital / webex mini-symposium with Centre for Oral History and Tradition (University of Lethbridge). October 2016, November 2017, May 2018



  • MAHI722: Key Themes in Modern Japanese History
  • MAHI708: Key Themes in the Postwar History of Japan


In approaching World History, a key emphasis of Dr. Aoki’s is connection: trans-national and global contact and connects through human movement. Far away cultures ‘over there’ are never just that: they are here.


Areas of expertise for post-graduate supervision:

  • Modern Japan and East Asia
  • Oral History
  • Diaspora, contact zones, and postcolonial history
  • Histories of the ‘Everyday’
  • Gender and sexuality – especially Trans-Pacific same-sex/queer
  • Race and ethnicity
  • cultural history, visual culture

Research interests

History of Identities and Ideas in Modern Transnational Encounter

  • Race/Ethnicity and Japanese Trans-Pacific Diaspora
  • Gender and Sexualities – Masculinities, Homosexuality, Popular Culture
  • Social,Cultural, & Oral History, including Digital Storytelling


Dr. Aoki’s current area of research focuses on questions of identity and inheritance in the trans-Pacific diaspora of Japanese, through the use of ‘talking history’ methodologies: oral history (life-story, collaborative narration, story-telling circles); digital story-telling; memory soundscapes.

*****Nikkei Memory Capture Project (NMCP)*****

The Nikkei Memory Capture Project (NMCP) is a long-term initiative to incite memory and record stories narrating the local, national, and trans-national Nikkei (‘people of Japanese descent’) experience. This is a trans-national collaboration bringing together the University of Plymouth -History and the University of Lethbridge, Centre for Oral History and Tradition. It is co-lead by Dr. Carly Adams (Associate Professor in Sports and Kinesiology). The Project includes a team of post-graduate and undergraduate student researchers. 


The focus of the NMCP is distinctive because it seeks to hear the little understood story of what happened in the latter half of the twentieth century in southern Alberta. It one of the few of North America’s significant populations of Japanese descent uninterrupted across the entirety of the twentieth century. Its incorporation of numerous waves of migration and the ‘contact zones’ these waves created with other ethnic, religious, and cultural groups has created a unique identity that – in important ways – invites us to interrogate dominant national and transnational narratives of Nikkei in unique ways.


The NMCP emerges from a pilot project of interviews with fifty individuals focusing on the memories of nisei (2nd generation) and how they shaped the communities from the 1950s to the present. Other topics which the NMCP has begun to explore include:

  • Special oral history focus on sansei (third generation)
  • Exploration of inter-racial intimacies and mixed-race identities
  • Interrogating what constitutes ‘Nikkei’ and ‘Japanese’
  • Sport, recreation and leisure
  • Food and culture

The NMCP has been made possible thanks to the generous support of:

  • Community of Research Excellence Development Opportunities Research Funding
  • Plymouth University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities Research Impact Seed Funding
  • Centre for Oral History and Tradition Award
  • Nikkei Cultural Society of Lethbridge and Area Grant

The NMCP is a co-creative community partnership including the following local Stakeholders:

  • Nikkei Cultural Society of Lethbridge and Area
  • Nikka Yuko Japanese Canadian Centennial Garden
  • Galt Museum and Archives


Other research

*****PTSD/dstp [Post-traumaticStress Disorder digital story-telling project*****


This pilot research is a collaborative initiative co-led by Dr. Aoki (University of Plymouth – History), and Dr. Jane Harrold and Dr. Richard Porter at the Britannia Royal Naval College.

The PTSD/dstp aims in the first instance to explore the role that the use of new communication technologies plays in personal narration (Digital Storytelling - DST) by active service personnel especially on operations and those closest to them.  It includes a research team of students to help develop a digital storytelling database led by Mr. Ciaran Bishop (BA Hons History, University of Plymouth), and which has included volunteer research by David Angeles, Harrison Rees, Lucy DeGroot, Thomas E Davies, and Elliot Clark.


Research degrees awarded to supervised students

Doctoral Supervision

Dr. Lyle DeSouza

Birkbeck, University of London
Thesis: 'Cultural Identity in Contemporary Canadian Nikkei Cultural Productions'
First Supervisor: Dr. Darren J. Aoki

PhD Examination

Dr. Zhen Liu
University of Strathclyde, Glasgow
Thesis: 'A Liberating Inheritance: Japanese Canadian Literature and Chinese Canadian Literature, 1970-2000'
External Examiner: Dr. Darren J. Aoki

University of Plymouth ResM Supervision in History

Mr. David Angeles
Topic: 'From Stage to the Screen? An Oral History of Selling Nakedness in Devon, 1984-2017'
MA Supervisory Team including Dr. Daniel Grey, Dr. Darren J. Aoki

International Supervision

Ms. Darcy Tamayose
University of Lethbridge
Masters of Arts
Topic: 'Redefining Okinawan Diaspora in Southern Alberta: Coal mines, Railroads, Farms, and the Battle of Okinawa'
MA Supervisory Team including Dr. Gideon Fujiwara, Dr. Carly Adams, Dr. Darren J. Aoki

Ms. Maddison Allen
University of Lethbridge
Masters of Arts
Proposed Topic: 'Japanese Canadians in the New Canadian [Title TBC]'
MA Supervisory Team including Dr. Gideon Fujiwara, Dr. Carly Adams, Dr. Darren J. Aoki

Grants & contracts

CURRENT: Nikkei Memory Capture Project

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada - INSIGHT GRANT
Title:  Transforming Canadian Nikkei: Co-Creating Histories of Southern Alberta, 1950 to the Twenty-First Century
Dr. Carly Adams, Dr. Darren J. Aoki

Nikkei Cultural Society of Lethbridge and Area Grant
Title: Nisei: Memories of Striving and Legacies of Resilience
Dr. Carly Adams, Dr. Darren J. Aoki

Centre for Oral History and Tradition Research Award
Title:  Narrating Japanese Canadian Inter-racial relationships in Southern Alberta during the postwar (NMCP)
Dr. Carly Adams, Dr. Darren J. Aoki

Community of Research Excellence Development Opportunities Grant 
Title: Nikkei Memory Capture Project
Dr. Carly Adams, Dr. Darren J. Aoki


School of Languages, Linguistics and Culture Research Grant, Birkbeck College, 2009

Japan Foundation Endowment Committee General Research Grant, 2002
Yasuda Trust and Banking Scholarship, 2000-2004

Overseas Research Studentship, 2000-2004

Commonwealth Overseas Trust, 2000-2004

Peterhouse Grant, 2000

Fellow, Cambridge Commonwealth Society, 2001-present

Ivan Morris Memorial Prize, First Prize (Best Dissertation in UK in Japanese Studies for 1998), 1999

School of Oriental and African Studies Postgraduate Bursary, 1997-1998

Creative practice & artistic projects

CURRENT: Nikkei Memory Capture Project

Memory Soundscape
Title: What is Written in the Sky of Your Mind  [available at:  https://www.missingwolf.com/works/]
Collaboration with Composer and Sonic Artist, Mr. Tom Hull of Missing Wolf (www.missingwolf.com)

Key publications are highlighted

Aoki D 2020 'Remembering ‘The English’ in Four ‘Memory Moment’ Portraits: Navigating Anti-Japanese Discrimination and Postcolonial Ambiguity in Mid-Twentieth Century Alberta, Canada' Rethinking History: the journal of theory and practice , DOI PEARL
Aoki DJ 2019 'Assimilation - On (Not) Turning White: Memory and the Narration of the Postwar History of Japanese Canadians in Southern Alberta' Journal of Canadian studies. Revue d'etudes canadiennes (Winter) , DOI PEARL
Mackintosh JD 2014 'Bruce Lee: A Poetics of Japanese Manliness' Modern Asian Studies 48, (6) 1477-1518 , DOI
Mackintosh JD 2013 'The Pornographics of Japanese Negrophilia' Japan Forum: the international journal of Japanese studies 25, (1) 1-23 Publisher Site PEARL
Mackintosh JD 2006 'A Japanese Homo 'Moving' - Itō Bungaku and the Solidarity of the Rose Tribes' Intersections: gender and sexuality in Asia and the Pacific (12) Publisher Site
Mackintosh JD 2000 'By Women, For Women: Women’s Employment in the Occupation Era' Japan Forum: the international journal of Japanese studies 12, (1) 87-112 Publisher Site
Mackintosh JD 2011 Homosexuality and Manliness in Postwar Japan. Abingdon, New York Routledge Routledge Contemporary Japan Series Publisher Site
Mackintosh J; Berry C; Liscutin N 2009 Cultural Studies and Cultural Industries in Northeast Asia. Hong Kong Hong Kong University Press TransAsia: Screen Cultures Publisher Site
Mackintosh J; Berry C; Liscutin N 2009 Cultural Studies and Cultural Industries in Northeast Asia. Hong Kong Hong Kong University Press TransAsia: Screen Cultures Publisher Site
Aoki D & Adams C 9999 'Of Ice Cream, Potatoes, and Kimono-Clad Japanese Women: Forgetting and Remembering the Japanese Racialization of Lethbridge’s Sensuous Geographies' in Hodes C; Bonaficio G Race and the City University of Athabasca Press
Mackintosh JD 2012 'The Homo Culture of Iconic Personality in Early-to-Mid Postwar Japan: Mishima Yukio and Misora Hibari' in Galbraith P; Karlin J The Idol-ogy of Desire: Image, Performance and Fandom in Japanese Media Culture Palgrave Macmillan 131-152 Publisher Site
Mackintosh JD 2008 'Embodied masculinities of male-male desire: The Homo Magazines and White-Collar Manliness in Early 1970s Japan J. Darren Mackintosh' in Martin F; Jackson P; McLelland M; Yue A AsiaPacifiQueer: Rethinking Gender and Sexuality in the Asia-Pacific Urbana and Chicago University of Illinois Press 29-45 Publisher Site
Conference Papers
Mackintosh JD 2012 'White Dreams: The Eugenic Imagination of Homo in 1950s Japan' Queer 50s Conference Birkbeck Institute of Gender and Sexuality 06/05/2009 07/05/2009
Mackintosh JD 2009 'Embodied Masculinities of Male-Male Desire in Japan in the 1970s' Queer Matters 2004 Conference Kings College London, University of London 28/05/2004 30/05/2004 University of Illinois Press 29-45
Mackintosh JD 2005 'Historical Configurations of Male-Male Sexual Identity in Japan: The Effective Role of New Media' East Asian Studies Research Society Inaugural Conference University of Leeds 19/03/2005 19/03/2005
Other Publications
Mackintosh JD 0 Book Review of Sabine Fruhstuck and Anne Walthall (eds), Recreating Japanese Men (University of California Press,2011). Taylor and Francis 0 0 Unknown-Unknown
Mackintosh JD 0 By Women, For Women: Women’s Employment in the Occupation Era. 0 0
Mackintosh JD 0 Extended Essay Review of Toake Endoh, Exporting Japan: Politics of Emigration to Latin America (University of Illinois Press, 2009). Institute of Historical Research 0 0
Mackintosh JD 0 L. M. Cullen, A History of Japan, 1582-1941: Internal and External Worlds (Cambridge University Press, 2003). 0 0
Mackintosh JD 0 Review of Byron K. Marshall, Learning to be Modern: Japanese Political Discourse on Education (Westview Press, Inc., 1994). 0 0
Mackintosh JD 0 Review of H. Ion, The Cross in the Dark Valley: The Canadian Protestant Missionary Movement in the Japanese Empire, 1931-1945 (Wilfrid Laurier U. Press, 1999). 0 0
Mackintosh JD 0 Review of Isolde Standish, Myth and Masculinity in the Japanese Cinema: Towards a Political Reading of the ‘Tragic Hero’ (Curzon, 2000). 0 0 143-144
Mackintosh JD 0 Review of Roland Kelts, Japanamerica: How Japanese Popular Culture Has Invaded the US (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006). Sage Publications 0 0 97-100
Mackintosh JD 0 Sexual Solidarity and the Ethics and Aesthetics of Manliness in Early 1970s Japan. 0 0

Reports & invited lectures

Golden Maple Reception - Keynote Lecture
'In the Wondrous Reverberations of Silence: Mel Murakami and a Generation of Japanese Canadian Visionaries'
Dr. Darren J. Aoki, Dr. Carly Adams  
Nikka Yuko Japanese-Canadian Centennial Friendship Garden (Lethbridge, Canada)
19 September 2019

Raymond Historical Society - Keynote Lecture
'Japanese Candians and Raymond (Title TBC)'
Dr. Darren J. Aoki, Dr. Carly Adams 
Raymond Historical Society (Canada)
18 September 2019

Oral History Unit & Collective 
'An Oral Historical Intervention in a Historiography of Erasure: A Case STudy of Japanese in Canada and Memories of the Postwar at the End of Life'
Dr. Darren J. Aoki  
University of Newcastle (UK)
17 February 2019

Queer Asia
'Queering Assimilation? Trans-Pacific Desires and Not-Becoming White'
Dr. Darren J. Aoki 
School of Oriental and African Studies (UK)
15 March 2017

Galt Museum and Archive - Public Lecture Series
'Mukashi, Mukashi - Nikkei History in Southern Alberta: Stories of Global Significance'
Dr. Darren J. Aoki  
Lethbridge (Canada)
26 May 2016

Japan Society - Public Seminar Series
'Canadians of Japanese Descent in Postwar Southern Alberta''
Dr. Darren J. Aoki 
Swedenborg House, London (UK) 
7 May 2015

Other academic activities

JAPAN400 PLYMOUTH (www.plymouth.ac.uk/jp400)

Festival Leader: Darren J. Aoki*


This international festival celebrated the 400 years of Anglo-Japanese Relations. It involved the co-ordination of nearly 500 participants. 


Core Events


26-30 Sept, 2014


  • Doing Business with Japan (Inward Investment Event)
  • Kawasaki Precision Machinery Ltd. 20th Anniversary Reception
  • Japan Fair on Sutton Harbour incl. international performances, stalls
  • ‘Homecoming of the Clove’ International Dignitaries Ceremony as part of re-enactment of the return of The Clove to Plymouth/Sutton Harbour in 1614 following successful mission to meet Japanese Shogun
  • Global Japan Culture Showcase (Plymouth Guildhall)
  • Konnichiwa Kernow – outdoor performance organised by Play It Again Theatre Group for disadvantaged youth in Devon, Cornwall
  • Plymouth University & Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation International Maritime Synergies Symposium
  • Japan400 Keynote Lecture – Prof. T. Screen, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

Outreach Events

Jan-Oct, 2014

In collaboration with project partners, Japan400 Plymouth included activities and events promoting academic research and community engagement, for example:

  • Hafu – The Mixed Race Experience: documentary screening and Director’s Q&A on discrimination suffered by people of mixed parentage in Japan
  • Youth outreach events – Exeter School A Level Business Game, Devon and Cornwall Scouts, Play it Again Theatre Group


Key features include:

·       Sponsorship and partnerships with a range of key sector organisations and leaders: Plymouth University, Plymouth Marine Institute, Peninsula Arts, Plymouth City Council, Plymouth Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Heart of the Southwest LEP, Sutton Harbour Holdings PLC, Embassy of Japan in the UK, Embassy of UK in Japan, Japan Society London, Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, Japanese Ministry of Forestry Fisheries and Agriculture, Sake Samurai, Kawasaki Precision Machinery Ltd., Peter Gorton’s JT Academy (British Masterchef Peter Gorton), First Great Western, De Vere Hotels and Resorts, Umu London (Michelin-Star Chef Ishii Yoshinori)

·        Engagement with community organisations, internationally-acclaimed artists and performers, and local business, for example: Devon and Cornwall Scouts, Play it Again Theatre Group, Ronin-kai Kendo Club, British Shintaidō, Bengala Hand-Dye Craft (Totnes), Totnes Harp Centre, Devon Twinning Society, JTJ Academy, Wagamama, Goto Sushi Plymouth, Square Sails, Silicon Sensing Ltd., Pure Mediate Ltd., Hibiki Ichikawa and Akari Mochizuki, Kagemusha Taiko, Yukki Yaura

·        Media coverage of event and Plymouth University, included: BBC (TV – BBC One Spotlight and Radio), ITV, Western Morning News, Plymouth Herald, Sound-Art Radio, social media and internet

·        Consultations: Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai, TV France 3