Jing Sun


Ph.D. Candidate

Modern Japan, East Asia, World History

Exam Committee: Frederick R. Dickinson (advisor), Siyen Fei, Walter A. McDougall.

Dissertation Committee: Frederick R. Dickinson (advisor), Eiichiro Azuma, Sebastián Gil-Riaño.

Teaching Fields: Modern Japanese history, Late imperial and modern Chinese history, US international history.


Dissertation: Eating by Numbers: Nutrition, Health and the Political Economy of Food in Modern Japan 1880-1945.

This project explores the making of quantitative dietary standards and its socio-economic consequences in modern Japan. I argue that calculating dietary standards paved the way for both micro- and macro-level applications of a quantitative logic to the management of health and food economy in Japanese state and empire. People followed standards of daily nutrient intake for better health; the government compared agricultural production with the necessary calories for the total population; imperial agencies developed nutritional policies and encouraged food industries like colonial fisheries to provide abundant and cheap nourishment. The ideas and practice of calculated eating transformed peoples’ nutritional awareness and dietary habits and reshaped food and nutrition policymaking in modern Japan.


B.A. International Politics, Peking University, China (2013)
B.A. International Liberal Studies, Waseda University, Japan (2013)
M.A. Asia-Pacific Studies, Peking University, China (2016)
M.P.P. Campus Asia Program, The University of Tokyo, Japan (2016)

Research Interests

Politics, socio-economy and diplomacy in modern Japan and East Asia, Empire, Food history, History and sociology of medicine, science and technology, Global Asia.

Courses Taught

Grader: Media History (2011-2, Waseda University, Japan); International Law (2014Spring, Peking University, China); American Diplomatic History since 1776 (2017Fall, UPenn); Comparative Capitalist Systems (2018Spring, UPenn).

TA: Modern American Culture (2018Fall, UPenn); History of Modern China (2019Spring, UPenn).

Selected Publications
  • Book chapters (peer reviewed)

“Hungry Empire: Manchuria and the Failed Food Autarky in Imperial Japan, 1931-41,” in The Provisions of War: Expanding the Boundaries of Food and Conflict, 1840-1990, edited by Justin Nordstrom, 91-107. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2021.

  • Articles & essays

 “Transformed Food and Dietary Style in Modern Japan (1870s),” Synapsis: A Health Humanities Journal, February 13, 2023.  https://medicalhealthhumanities.com/2023/02/13/transformed-food-and-dietary-style-in-modern-japan-1870s/

“Calories: The Measure of Nurture,” Synapsis: A Health Humanities Journal, November 21, 2022.  https://medicalhealthhumanities.com/2022/11/21/know-about-calorie/

“Rice in Bowls,” Synapsis: A Health Humanities Journal, October 24, 2022. https://medicalhealthhumanities.com/2022/10/24/rice-in-bowls-versus-feces-in-labs/ 

“Saiki Tadasu and the Making of the Global Science of Nutrition, 1900-1927,” Rockefeller Archive Center Research Reports, December 2, 2020. https://rockarch.issuelab.org/resource/saiki-tadasu-and-the-making-of-the-global-science-of-nutrition-1900-1927.html

  • Review articles

Review of Nutritional Policies and International Diplomacy: The Impact of Tadasu Saiki and the Imperial State Institute of Nutrition (Tokyo: 1916-1945), by Josep L. Barona, Medical History vol. 65, no. 4 (October 2021): 426-7.

 “Yi zhe qian yan” [Preface by Translator] in Ri ben shi: Jianghu shidai, translation of George Sansom, A History of Japan, 1615-1867. Beijing: Social Sciences Academic Press, 2021.

  • Translations

Ri ben shi: Jianghu shidai [日本史:江户时代;A History of Japan: Edo Period], translation of George Sansom, A History of Japan, 1615-1867. Beijing: Social Sciences Academic Press, 2021.


Visiting Researcher, Death & Life Studies and Practical Ethics (Research Center), University of Tokyo, Japan

CV (file)