I am a historian of modern Japan. My research concerns the history of borderlands, environment, and imperialism in the twentieth century. I have spent over a decade total living, studying, and working in Japan, China, and Mongolia, including a year each as a Princeton-in-Asia fellow in Xinjiang and as a Fulbright researcher in Inner Mongolia. Having received my Ph.D. in History from Harvard University, I joined the faculty at Bowdoin in 2015.
Much more tentatively, my next project, “Rare Earth: Bodies and Ecologies in a Technologic Age,” links Japan’s rise as a postwar electronics giant to intensive mining practices around the globe, from "cancer villages" in northern China to decimated gorilla habitats in the Congo. “Rare Earth” will look at how new kinds of environmental and economic frontiers have opened up as a result of abstracting nature into digital and virtual forms. It aims to blend economic, environmental, and material history, by making experimental forays into the digital humanities: I look forward to learning how to interpret the “natural” worlds created in videogames—Zelda’s primeval forests or Mario’s Mushroom Kingdom—as they come to stand in for our physical surroundings.
My research has been supported by the American Council for Learned Societies, Fulbright Commission, Mellon Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, Social Science Research Council, and Japan Foundation.
Territorial Natures: The Limits of Imperial Japan in Inner Mongolia (in progress)
"Japanese Imperialism and Environmental Disease on a Soy Frontier, 1890–1940" in The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 78, No. 4 (November 2019), 809–836. (article)
Review of Kate Merkel-Hess, The Rural Modern: Reconstructing the Self and State in Republican China (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016) for Twentieth-Century China 43, no. 2 (May 2018), E10–E13.
Review of Emer O’Dwyer, Significant Soil: Settler Colonialism and Japan’s Urban Empire in Manchuria (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2015) for Japanese Studies 37, no. 3 (December 2017), 399–401.
- Transregional Research Junior Scholar Fellowship in InterAsian Contexts and Comparisons, Social Science Research Council, 2018–2019
- Henry Luce Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, American Council for Learned Societies Program in China Studies, 2018–2019
- Advanced Social Science Research on Japan Fellowship, National Endowment for the Humanities, 2018–2019
- Gibbons Summer Research Grant with Stephanie Sun '18, Bowdoin College, Summer 2017
- Mellon Interdisciplinary Dissertation Completion Fellowship, Mahindra Humanities Center, Harvard University, 2014–2015
- Fulbright Grant to the People's Republic of China, United States Department of State, 2012–2013
- International Dissertation Research Fellowship, Social Sciences Research Council, 2012–2013
- Japanese Studies Fellowship for Doctoral Research, The Japan Foundation, 2012–2013
- Foreign Language and Area Studies Program, United States Department of Education, 2011
- Japanese Ministry of Education Fellowship, Kyoto University, 2005–2006
I teach introductory lecture courses on the history of Japan (from Jōmon to Pokémon) with attention to regional and global contexts. My upper-division seminars delve into histories of the environment, science, borderlands, and colonialism within East Asia more broadly. I welcome students from all backgrounds with no previous language experience in Japanese.
- ASNS2252/HIST2420: Culture and Conquest in Japan (Spring 2018)
- ASNS2311/HIST2421: Modernity and Identity in Japan (Spring 2020)
- ASNS2310/HIST2890: The Japanese Empire and World War II (Fall 2017)
- ASNS2890/HIST2891/ENVS2491: East Asian Environmental History (Spring 2018)
- ASNS2892/HIST2892: Maps, Territory, Power (Fall 2016)
- ASNS3820/HIST3420: Law and Justice in East Asia (Spring 2020)
I also advise students in independent studies and honors projects. I encourage students with advanced reading skills in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean to incorporate sources in the original language into their work. Some of the research papers that I have supervised include:
- Indigenous Labor and the Construction of the Burma Road
- Traditional Japanese Medicine in the Early Twentieth Century
- The "New Woman" in Colonial Korea
- Tuna in Japan's Transwar
- Environmental Ethics and Lake Dianchi in the People's Republic of China
- Environmental History of the Burma Railway
- Water Management in Meiji Sapporo
- Nomadic Migrations of Huuchin Barga Mongols in the Japanese Occupation (article)
I advocate strongly for my students who want to travel, research, or work in Asia or who want to pursue postgraduate degrees in Asian Studies. I welcome requests for letters of recommendation IF and ONLY IF students follow these guidelines:
- Letters of recommendation take an inordinate amount of time to craft. Please contact me by email or meet with me in person one month in advance of any deadline.
- I write letters ONLY for graduate schools, academic fellowships, study abroad programs, academic internships, and post-graduate jobs. Check with me first before writing down my name and contact information as a reference. Students must have completed at least one course with me before asking for a reference or a recommendation.
- Send me your resume, unofficial transcript, and grant proposal or statement of purpose as soon as possible so that the contents of my letter aligns with application materials. Explain the purpose of the letter (internship, scholarship, job application, etc.) and what I should emphasize in writing.
- Also provide a self-addressed stamped envelope if I need to send a letter of recommendation on your behalf.
- If you need future letters, provide two weeks of advance warning so that I can revise your letter on file.
- Regardless of the outcome, let me know what happened. If you are traveling out-of-state or abroad, send me a postcard!
- PhD, History, Harvard University, 2016
- AB, History, Harvard University, 2008