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Reo Matsuzaki
Associate Professor of Political Science
Phone: (860) 297-5320 Office Location: Downes Memorial 207
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Trinity College faculty member since 2013 View office hours for Fall 2022
General ProfileTeachingResearchPublications/PresentationsHonors/Awards
Ph.D., Mass. Institute of Technology
B.S., Georgetown Univ.

Reo Matsuzaki is a scholar of colonialism and its legacies in East and Southeast Asia. In his recently published book, Statebuilding by Imposition: Resistance and Control in Colonial Taiwan and the Philippines (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2019), he examines the role societal intermediaries play in the construction of modern states through a comparative analysis of Japanese colonization of Taiwan and the U.S. colonization of the Philippines. In his current project, he seeks to identify the causal mechanisms that explain variation in the production of colonial legacies by examining why World War II and Japanese wartime occupation had such varying effects on the trajectory of postwar institutional development in Southeast Asia. In some instances, prewar political and administrative institutions quickly reestablished themselves after the Japanese interlude; in others, Japanese occupation served as a catalyst for fundamental institutional transformation in the postwar period. Broadly trained in the politics and history of Japan, he is also embarking on a new research project on populism and why it has been such a feeble political force in Japan in recent decades despite underlying institutional and ideational factors that should have been conductive to populism's rise.

As in his research, the comparative method is the underlying approach of Matsuzaki’s courses. Students will discuss why various historical events occurred as they did, and whether alternative outcomes were possible, by comparing similar as well as dissimilar cases. Through classroom discussion, presentations, and written assignments, students will learn how to dissect social scientific arguments, challenge existing accounts of historical interpretation, and evaluate the merits of theoretically founded policy prescriptions.

He was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, where the managed the Governance Project, before joining the Trinity faculty in 2013. He is an Associate-in-Research at Harvard University’s Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies and at Yale University’s Council of East Asian Studies.