Associate Professor of History
Hiromu Nagahara is a historian 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 next book project, An Empire of Anglophones: English in the Making of Imperial Japan’s Elites, explores the cultural history of modern Japanese diplomacy. In particular, it highlights how familiarity with the English language, and Anglophone culture more generally, both enabled and complicated the efforts by Japan’s ruling elites to build an empire of their own in a world that was already dominated by European and American imperial powers.
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.
In the News:
- Krewe of Japan Podcast (Japan Society of New Orleans): The Chrysanthemum Throne ft. Dr. Hiromu Nagahara [Part 1] and The Chrysanthemum Throne ft. Dr. Hiromu Nagahara [Part 2]
- New Books Network Podcast: Hiromu Nagahara, Tokyo Boogie-Woogie: Japan’s Pop Era and Its Discontents
- Japan By River Cruise Podcast: The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (w/Hiromu Nagahara)
- New York Times: The 1964 Games Proclaimed a New Japan. There’s Less to Cheer This Time
- Meiji at 150 Podcast: Dr. Hiromu Nagahara (MIT), on the popular music of the Meiji, Taishō, and Shōwa eras
- MIT News: When Japan met the world
- MIT News: Big in Japan