Hiromu Nagahara studies the history of modern Japan. He received his PhD (2011) in History from Harvard University. His research interests focuses on the politics of art and culture in Japan since the nineteenth century. His book, Tokyo Boogie-Woogie: Japan's Pop Era and Its Discontents (Harvard University Press, 2017), sheds light on how new forms of mass media and popular culture interacted with existing social and cultural hierarchies within Japanese society in ways that transformed both the new and the old. The book highlights the ongoing public controversies surrounding the popular songs that were produced by Japan's music industry since the late 1920s, which coincided with the emergence of a mass-consumer, middle-class society. His second project explores the cultural history of modern Japanese diplomacy by looking at how artistic and other pursuits of 'play' enable members of Japan's ruling elite to join larger networks of global elites during the twentieth century.
At MIT, Professor Nagahara teaches classes on culture, politics, and society in Japan since the early modern era. These include a survey of Japanese history since the 1600s and a seminar on World War II in Asia. He also co-teaches a global history course, "The World, 1400-Present." During January IAP and other occasions, he also enjoys taking students and other members of the MIT community on a tour of the Japanese collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, which houses one of the largest collections of Japanese art outside of Japan.