Sakura Christmas studies Japanese imperialism in China, with a particular focus on frontier formation, scientific expeditions, and nomadic decline in the first half of the twentieth century. Her dissertation, tentatively titled "Empire Unearthed: Imperial Japan at China's Edge, 1900-1950," examines how the Japanese brought an unprecedented precision to the problem of colonial control in Manchuria and Inner Mongolia. Through redistricting, remapping, and resettlement, Japanese occupiers marked out ethnic and ecological divides in an attempt to bring administrative clarity to a region of increasingly overlapping Chinese and Mongolian communities. This reconstitution of land, territory, and the earth in the Mongol Lands further extended into the development of intensive agriculture, aerial technology, and the 'excavating sciences' of archaeology, paleontology, geology, and geophysics, all of which helped define the edge of the Japanese empire.
Christmas received her AB in History from Harvard College in 2008, with a minor in Archaeology and a certificate in Japanese Studies from Kyoto University. After graduating, she taught as a university lecturer in History and English in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China, through Princeton-in-Asia before returning to Harvard in order to pursue a doctorate. As a fourth-year PhD candidate, Christmas is conducting eighteen months of archival research in China, Japan, and Korea with institutional affiliations at Waseda University in Tokyo and Inner Mongolia University in Hohhot from 2012 to 2014. Her project has received support from the Fulbright-IIE, the Japan Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council. Christmas also is organizing an exhibition on Owen Lattimore’s photography in 1930s Manchuria at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University in the near future.