Hiromu Nagahara studies the history of modern Japan, with a focus on the politics of art and culture since the nineteenth century. He is the author of Tokyo Boogie-Woogie: Japan's Pop Era and Its Discontents (Harvard University Press, 2017), which highlights the public controversies that engulfed the popular songs that were produced by Japan's music industry since the late 1920s and their connections to Japan's emergence as a mass-consumer, middle-class society. His current research 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 in cities like London, Paris, and Shanghai during the decades preceding World War II.
Nagahara's teaching interests include surveys of Japanese history from the earliest centuries (21H.154 "Inventing the Samurai") through the modern era (21H.155 "Modern Japan: 1600 to Presents"), as well as a seminar on World War II in Asia. He also co-teaches a global history course, " World History and Its Fault Lines Since 1800." 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.