The support of the Canada-UK Foundation enabled Cornelis to travel to Canada for archival research.
Cornelis’s work investigates the response of the British Empire to the political and ideological challenge of a rising Japan in the early 20th century.
At the time Japan represented a new kind of Great Power: modern and powerful, yet also separated from the British by a perceived gulf of cultural, religious and racial differences. While Britain was keen to have Japan as an ally, Japanese immigration in Canada and other countries with important ties to the UK remained highly controversial.
Archival resources allowed Cornelis to explore how Canadian politicians assessed Japanese demands for equal treatment and how this affected Canadian relations with Tokyo, London, and Washington.
His research makes an important contribution to Canada’s diplomatic history with the UK and a host of other nations.