Curriculum Vitae

Born on December 28, 1951, in The Hague, The Netherlands, to a British mother and a Dutch father.

Ian Buruma is a Dutch citizen. He has been based in New York City since 2005


Higher Education and Degrees

Kandidaat in Chinese Literature and History at Leyden University, 1971-75.

Postgraduate Scholarship in Japanese Cinema at Nihon University, College of Arts (Nichidai Geijutsu Gakko), Tokyo, Japan,1975-77.

Honorary Doctorate in Theology, University of Groningen, 2004.


Professional Experience

Worked as a documentary filmmaker and photographer in Tokyo (1977-80).

Cultural Editor of The Far Eastern Economic Review, Hong Kong (1983-86).

Foreign Editor of  The Spectator, London (1990-91).

Chairman of Humanities Centre, Central European University, Budapest (2000-04).

Board Member of The Einstein Forum, Potsdam, 2005.

Board Member of Human Rights in China, New York, since 2006.

Faculty Member, Salzburg Seminar, Salzburg, Austria (March-April, 2007).

Curator, “Gamblers, Gangsters, and Other Anti-Heroes:The Japanese Yakuza Movie”, Asia Society, New York (March-April, 2008).


Since 2003, Ian Buruma is Paul W. Williams Professor of Democracy, Human Rights & Journalism at Bard College, NY. In this function, he has:

– offered courses in War Crime Trials, Modern Japanese History, Great Dictators, Intellectual Currents against the West, Religion and Democracy, and WWII from US and Japanese Perspectives.

– also taught in the Bard Prison Programme, at Eastern Correctional Institution, NY, Spring 2004.

  • Since September 2017 Editor of the New York Review of Books


Fellowships and Prizes

Fellow, Wissenschaftskolleg, Berlin, 1991-92.

Fellow, Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington D.C., 1998-99.

Alistair Horne Visiting Fellow, St. Antony’s College, Oxford, 1999-2000.

Senior Visiting Fellow, Remarque Institute, New York University, Fall 2000.

Thr 2006 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Best Current Interest Book for Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo Van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance.

The 2008 Erasmus Prize.

The 2008 Shorenstein Journalism Award.

2011/2012 Fellowship at the New York Public Library Cullman Center

2012 Abraham Kuyper Prize

2015 PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award For the Art of the Essay



The Japanese Tattoo (Weatherhill, Tokyo, 1980), text Donald Richie, photographs Ian Buruma.

Behind the Mask: On Sexual Demons, Sacred Mothers, Transvestites, Gangsters, Drifters and Other Japanese Cultural Heroes (Pantheon, 1984), also entitled A Japanese Mirror (Cape, 1983) in the UK.

God’s Dust: A Modern Asian Journey (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1988).

Playing the Game (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1990).

The Wages of Guilt: Memories of War in Japan and Germany (Farrar, Straus, Giroux,1995).

The Missionary and the Libertine: Love and War in East and West (Random House, 1996).

Anglomania: a European Love Affair (Random House, 1999), also entitled Voltaire’s Coconuts, or Anglomania in Europe(Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1999) in the UK. 

Bad Elements: Among the Rebels, Dissidents, and Democrats of Greater China (Random House, 2001).

Inventing Japan: 1853-1964 (Modern Library Chronicles, 2003).

Occidentalism: TheWest in the Eyes of its Enemies (Penguin USA, 2004).

Conversations with John Schlesinger (Random House, 2006).

Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo Van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance(Penguin, 2006).

The China Lover (Penguin, 2008)

Taming the Gods: Religion and Democracy on Three Continents (Penguin, 2010)

Grenzen aan de vrijheid (Lemniscaat, 2010)

Year Zero: A History of 1945 (Penguin, 2013)

Theater of Cruelty (NYRB, 2014)

Their Promised Land: My Grandparents in Love and War (Penguin, 2016)


Other Publications

Regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, The New YorkerProject Syndicate, and other publications in the Americas, Europe, and Asia .



English, Dutch, French, German, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese.


Named Lectures, among others:

Van der Leeuw Lezing, Groningen University (1993)

Lionel Trilling Lecture, Columbia University (1998)

Huizinga Lezing, Leyden University (2000)

Takahashi Lecture, Stanford University (2002)

Olin Lecture, University of Chicago (2003)

Robert B. Silvers Lecture, New York Public Library (2004)

Annie Sonnenblick Lecture, Wesleyan University (2006)

Stafford Little Lectures, Princeton University (2008)


Numerous other lectures and keynote speeches at: Princeton; Harvard; UCLA; New School, New York; New York University; University of Pennsylvania, City University of New York; Trinity College; University of North Carolina; University of Toronto; University of Michigan; Kenyon College; Wissenschaftskolleg, Berlin; Frankfurt University; St.Antony’s College, Oxford; London School of Economics; Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington DC; University of Notre Dame, Indiana; Berkeley Journalism School; SAIS Johns Hopkins, Washington DC; Emory University, Atlanta; Council of Foreign Relations, New York; Asia Society, New York; Japan Society, London and New York; Mount Holyoke, Mass; Rubin Museum, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.