Urs Matthias Zachmann is Professor of Modern Japanese History and Culture at Freie Universität Berlin (since October 2016). He received his undergraduate and graduate training in Law (1st State Exam 1998) and Japanese Studies (MA 2000, PhD 2006) at the Universities of Hannover and Heidelberg, and completed his Habilitation in Japanese Studies in 2010 at the University of Munich (LMU). He spent extensive research periods at Harvard University, Waseda University and the University of Tokyo. Zachmann is a trained advocate in Germany (2nd State Exam 2002). In 2006, he became Assistant Professor at Munich University, followed by an appointment in October 2010 as Acting Full Professor at Heidelberg University. In October 2011, Zachmann assumed the position of inaugural Handa Chair in Japanese-Chinese Relations at the University of Edinburgh (until Sept. 2016). While at Edinburgh, Zachmann set up and supervised the MSc in East Asian Relations and acted as Head of Department for Asian Studies (2012-2015).
Zachmann’s research focuses on the intellectual and cultural history of modern Japan within the context of East Asian international relations, as well as law and legal history in East Asia. He is particularly interested in the transfer of political ideas and cultural institutions, their strategic re-interpretation of discourses on modernization and national agency, and the practical consequences this has for the foreign relations of Japan, particularly in East Asia.
Among his publications are the award-winning monograph China and Japan in the Late Meiji Period: China Policy and the Japanese Discourse on National Identity, 1895-1904 (2009/2011) and Völkerrechtsdenken und Außenpolitik in Japan, 1919-1960 [The Japanese discourse on international law and foreign policy in Japan, 1919-1960] (2013).