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Katsuya Hirano HiranoPhoto.jpg

Associate Professor

Office: 322 McGraw Hall
Phone: 607-254-1329
Fax: 607-255-0469

Research and Teaching Interests

Katsuya Hirano teaches premodern and early modern Japanese history, with an emphasis on the cultural and intellectual history of the Tokugawa and the Meiji periods (1600-1912). His teaching and research explore the intersection between history and critical theory by paying special attention to the questions of ideology, historical transformation, and subject/subjectivity. Hirano’s book entitled The Politics of Dialogic Imagination: Power and Popular Culture in Early Modern Japan, 1750-1890 is forthcoming from the Chicago Studies in Practices of Meaning Series (the University of Chicago Press). It is an investigation of the politics of urban popular culture in late Tokugawa and early Meiji Japan, viewed through an analysis centered on the discourse on “idleness” and its complex, often conflictive relations with state ideology, social order, and political economy. Hirano has also started preliminary research for his next project which examines, through the prism of biopolitics, the correlative operation of capitalism and racism in the making of the Japanese empire. Taking the colonization of the Ainu people as the locus of analysis, the project explores the relation between the state’s drive for primitive accumulation (deterritorialization and reterritorialization of Ainu’s land) and the construction and implementation of racial categories through academic and legal discourse. This research will be published as a book in Japanese first from Hosei University Press (Tokyo). Hirano received his Ph.D in history from the University of Chicago in 2004 and has been a member of the department since 2006.


Fall 2012:
On Leave
Spring 2013:
On Leave

Other Courses

HIST 1900 East Asia to 1800
HIST 2431 Colonialism, Decolonization, and Postcolonial Thought
HIST 2981 Power, Culture, and Heterogeneity in Premodern Japan, 1200-1800
HIST 3611 Power, Culture, and Transformation in the Making of Modern Japan, 1700-1912
HIST 4501 Representing Atrocity: Mem & Hist Knowledge in Nanking Massacre & Comfort Women Discourses
HIST 4502 Power and Popular Culture in Early Modern Japan
HIST 6140 Readings in Cultural Materialism: Theoretical Investigations
HIST 6150 The Past in the Present/The Present in the Past: Histories of Tokugawa Japan
HIST 6861 Readings in Japanese Historiography: From Marxian to People’s History (Minshushi) Paradigms


Ph.D. University of Chicago, 2004
M.A. University of Birmingham (Britain), 1993
B.A. Doshisha University (Japan), 1991

Recent Publications and Awards

Books, Chapters, and Articles

Book: The Politics of Dialogic Imagination: Power and Popular Culture in Early Modern Japan, 1750-1890 (forthcoming from the Chicago Studies in Practice of Meaning, University of Chicago Press)

Book manuscript in progress: 『「他者の到来」の歴史(学)―“アイヌ”とポストコロニアル的考察』(仮題) (Toward the History of The Coming of the Other: On the “Ainu” and Postcolonial Reflections) (Under Contract with Hosei University Press, Tokyo).

Edited volume: The Archive of Revolution: Marxist Historiography in Modern Japan, 1930s-1980s. (co-edited with Gavin Walker) (under consideration).

Book chapter: “Dialectic of Laughter and Tosaka's Critical Theory“ in Ken Kawashima and Robert Stolz eds., Tosaka Jun: A Critical Reader (forthcoming from Cornell East Asia Series).

Journal article: “Politics and Poetics of the Body in Early Modern Japan” in Modern Intellectual History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Nov. 2011) (refereed).

Journal article: “The Politics of Colonial Translation: On the Narrative of the Ainu as a “Vanishing Ethnicity”” in The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus (New York: 2009) (refereed). Link:

Journal article: “江戸の遊びと権力” (On Play and Power in Late Tokugawa Edo) inみすず no.565 (Misuzu) (Tokyo: みすず書房, 2008)

Book chapter: “編訳者あとがき ― 現代の苦境を切り開く過去との対話” (Afterword: Dialogue with the Past to Live through the Predicament of Modernity) in Doing 思想史 (Doing Intellectual History) (Tokyo: みすず書房、2008)

Book chapter: “Social Networks and Production of Public Discourse in Edo Popular Culture” in Elizabeth Lillehoj (ed.) Acquisition: Art and Ownership in Edo-Period Japan (New York: Floating World Edition, 2007) 

Publication (Translation)

Book: Translator of The Empire's New Clothes by Harry Harootunian (Tokyo: Misuzu, みすず書房, forthcoming 2013)

Book: Editor and translator (also wrote Afterword) of Doing 思想史 (Doing Intellectual History) by Tetsuo Najita (Tokyo: Misuzu, みすず書房, 2008)

Book chapters: Ueki Emori's three short essays:“Minken jiyu ron“ (On Popular Rights and Liberty), “Yo ni yoki seifu naru mono naki no setsu“ (There is no Good Government Anywhere in the World), and “Hin min ron“ (On the Poor) in Modern Japanese Thought (Chicago: the University of Chicago, Center for East Asian Studies, 2002)

Article: Tetsuo Najita's essay “Ambiguous Encounters: Ogata Koan and International Studies in Late Tokugawa Osaka.“ in Kinsei no Osaka, (Osaka: University of Osaka Press, 2000)

Book chapter: Watanabe Kazan's essay “Shinkiron“ (On the Urgent Matter) in Readings in Tokugawa Thought, (Chicago: University of Chicago, Center for East Asian Studies, 1997).

Awards and Fellowships

The Kyoto Center for Japanese Studies Professor, 2012-2013
Visiting Professor at University of Michigan (Center for Japanese Studies), Spring 2009
The Society for the Humanities Research Grants, Cornell University, 2007-8
Fellowship at DePaul Humanities Center, DePaul University, 2006 (Declined)
Faculty Research and Development Grants, DePaul University, December 2004.
Unsung Hero’s Award (Distinguished Contribution to the University) from Indiana University-South Bend, 2004
International Scholars’ Honor Society, 2004
Center for Japanese Studies Teaching Fellowship, University of Chicago, 2002-2003
Bob Adams Memorial Fellowship, University of Chicago, 2002-2003
Center for East Asian Studies Dissertation Fellowship, University of Chicago, 2001-2002
Mellon Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, 2000-2001
Toyota Teaching Fellowship, University of Chicago, 1998-1999
University Fellowship (tuition and stipend), University of Chicago, 1996-2000