Postdoctoral Fellows

The Reischauer Institute Postdoctoral Fellowships in Japanese Studies provide recent graduates with the opportunity to continue their doctoral research at Harvard and produce publishable work from their dissertations. The fellows participate in the Japanese studies community at Harvard, work with faculty and students, and present their research in the Japan Forum series at some point during their stay.

The RIJS Postdoctoral Fellows for the 2019-20 academic year are as follows:

YUKI ASAHINA (Ph.D. Sociology, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2019)

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Dr. Yuki Asahina is a sociologist specializing in inequality, globalization, and politics. He received his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa in 2019. He holds a B.A. from International Christian University in Tokyo.

His work seeks to understand why we experience inequality and insecurity in the ways we do at different times and places. His dissertation, “Insecure Millennials: Coming of Age in Seoul and Tokyo,” finds that, in spite of many commonalities such as trajectories of economic development, the failure of the state to provide security to citizens and levels of income inequality, young adults in Seoul are much more anxiety-ridden and sensitive to economic inequality and insecurity than their peers in Tokyo. Drawing on 14 months of ethnographic research and interviews with 98 young adults, it examines how national politics, institutions, and culture affect the ways people experience inequality and insecurity from a comparative perspective.

At the Reischauer Institute, Dr. Asahina will actively work on a book manuscript based on his dissertation. In addition to that, he will work on another project about democracy and right-wing politics in Japan, a topic he has been continuously researching since 2011. By examining the structural conditions and political actors’ responses to them in shaping a particular political trajectory, this project will shed light on another history of post-recession Japanese society.


LEWIS BREMNER (D.Phil Modern Japanese History, University of Oxford, 2019)

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Dr. Lewis Bremner received a D.Phil in History from the University of Oxford in 2019, specializing in the history of Japan and the transnational history of science and technology. The principal archival research for his doctoral work was conducted in Japan in 2017 with the support of the Toshiba International Foundation and the Toyota-shi Trevelyan Trust.

His dissertation, “The Magic Lantern in Japan: Transnational Technology Across the Long Nineteenth Century,” uses a history of the magic lantern to explore themes of intellectual, cultural, and technological exchange between Japan and the wider world between the late eighteenth and the early twentieth century. It examines how this one unique projection device was imported, ascribed meaning, manufactured, and utilized across this period, and how these processes interlinked with important developments in epistemology, cultural production, political discourse, humanitarianism, and more. In the process, the work presents a reconsideration of how we think about Japan’s “long” nineteenth century, the role of the state in technological change, and the assumed divide between “early modern” and “modern” Japan.

At the Reischauer Institute, Dr. Bremner will continue research on his dissertation in preparation for its publication as a monograph. He is also working on several articles on the history of science and technology in Japan, as well as co-editing a volume re-examining the “Opening of Japan” in the nineteenth century.


KAORU HAYASHI (Ph.D. Premodern Japanese Literature, Princeton University, 2018)

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Dr. Kaoru Hayashi is a scholar of premodern Japanese literature, focusing on the eleventh to the fourteenth centuries. In addition to her specialty in premodern Japanese literature, especially narratives (monogatari), her areas of research interest also include premodern Japanese history and religious studies, area studies, and modern film and mass media. She received her Ph.D. in 2018 from Princeton University and is currently an assistant professor at Texas State University, where she teaches Japanese literature, language, and culture.

Dr. Hayashi’s book project, “Mediating Spirits: Narratives of Vengeful Spirits and Genealogies in Premodern Japanese Literature,” explores the invocation of the angry dead both as a social practice of genealogical imagination repeatedly thematized within premodern Japanese literary texts and as an act whose structure generated a narrative voice integral to the development of classical Japanese narratives. This book aims to transform our fundamental understanding of premodern Japanese narratives and break down long-standing disciplinary boundaries by showing the crucial role of vengeful spirits (mononoke and onryō) as rhetorical and narrative devices across a wide variety of premodern Japanese texts from the eleventh to the fourteenth centuries.

At the Reischauer Institute, Dr. Hayashi will continue to revise her project into an academic monograph for publication. She is also working on an article-length work in which she examines the literary mediation of disasters and memoryscapes by analyzing differences in depictions of the great fire of the Angen era (1177) in variants of The Tale of the Heike. In this article, she explores how remembered disasters and spaces, refracted across variants of the tale, embody fluctuating mosaics of memories, metaphors, and experiences.


MATTHEW MULLANE (Ph.D. Japanese Art and Architectural History, Princeton University, 2019)

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Dr. Matthew Mullane received his Ph.D. from Princeton University’s School of Architecture in 2019. His research focuses on the history of art and architecture of modern Japan in a global context, with a special emphasis on how epistemological practices like observation have shaped the development of “world architecture history” as a historiographical, artistic and architectural form between Europe and Asia.

His dissertation, “World Observation: Itō Chūta and the Making of Architectural Knowledge in Modern Japan,” investigates the intersecting histories of “observation” and “architecture” at the beginning of the twentieth century. The dissertation theorizes how observation was translated, taught and practiced in Japan by pedagogues and historians towards creating new architectural and historical knowledge that placed Japan as a modern imperial power in the framework of “world history.” As a path through this complicated history, the dissertation focuses on the work of Itō Chūta, modern Japan’s premier architecture historian, theorist and designer-consultant for the Japanese Empire. Analyzing his multifaceted project to create a world history of architecture, the dissertation offers a new theory of how epistemological values like observation were translated outside of Europe and given novel linguistic, visual and architectural forms including textual collages, drawings, and new styles of building.

At the Reischauer Institute, Dr. Mullane is revising and expanding his dissertation towards a book and will be preparing an article derived from this research on the problem of observation in the nascent field of “world architecture history” and its impact on Japanese imperial architecture. He is also translating works of early twentieth-century Japanese architecture theory and organizing a series of interviews with Japanese architecture historians on the methodologies of “global architecture history” in Japan and Asia.