Sarah Kovner

Senior Research Scholar, Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies

1338 International Affairs

Sarah Kovner is a Senior Research Scholar at the Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. She works on modern Japan and its relations with the world in the twentieth century. Her research interests include war and society, gender and sexuality, and international history. Kovner was previously an associate professor at the University of Florida and has been a fellow in International Security Studies at Yale University. Currently she is writing a history of Allied prisoners in the Pacific War.

Her first monograph, Occupying Power: Sex Workers and Servicemen in Postwar Japan, won the Southeast Conference of the Association of Asian Studies book prize for 2014, and was a 2012 Choice outstanding academic title of the year. Her work has been published in the Journal of Asian Studies and the Journal of Women’s History, among other places.

Sarah Kovner received her A.B. from Princeton University and her Ph.D. from Columbia University.



Prisoners of the Empire: POWs and their Captors in the Pacific War (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, Under contract).

Occupying Power: Sex Workers and Servicemen in Postwar Japan (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2012).

Book Chapters

“Allied POWs in Colonial Korea” in Specter of Empire: The Fall of Imperial Japan and the Postwar Struggle for Legitimacy, ed. Barak  Kushner (Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2016).

“1946 nen -1956 nen no Nihon ni okeru baishun no haishi ni tsuite,” (“Abolishing Prostitution in Japan, 1946-1956”) in Shin Nichiha ga egaita Nihonzō (Perspectives on Japan from a New Generation of American Specialists), ed. Terry McDougall (Kyoto: Kyoto Center for Japanese Studies, 2000).

Journal Articles

“The Soundproofed Superpower: U.S. Bases and Japanese Communities, 1945-1972,” Journal of Asian Studies 75, no. 1 (2016): 87.

“GIs in the Global History of Gender and Sexuality,” Journal of Women’s History 21, no. 3 (2014): 147.

Review of Troubled Apologies Among Japan, Korea, and the United States, by Alexis Dudden, Journal of World History 21, no. 2 (2010): 362.

“Selling Sex under Occupation: The American-Japanese Encounter after 1945,” Journal of Asian Studies 68, no. 3 (2009): 777.

Yamashits Yeong-ae, “Nationalism in Korean Women’s Studies: Addressing the Discourses Surrounding the ‘Comfort Women Issue’,” trans. Sarah Kovner, U.S.-Japan Women’s Journal, English Supplement 15 (October 1998): 52.

Kim Yonghi, “Is Forgetting a Kindness?” trans. Sarah Kovner, U.S.- Japan Women’s Journal, English Supplement 14 (1998): 49.

“A War of Words: Allied Captivity and Swiss Neutrality in the Pacific, 1941-1945,” Diplomatic History 41, no. 1 (2017): 719.