JUSFC Meet Our Grantees Series: Organization of American Historians & Japan Association for American Studies

October 26, 2017 

In 2012 Deborah Dash Moore, Professor of History and Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan, presented her research on American Jewish history in a series of lectures at the University of Kitakyushu in Japan. Her work interested many Japanese students and scholars, particularly women, who found similarities and shared experiences in her seminar.

Moore is one of the many American historians granted a two-week Japan Residencies Program fellowship facilitated by the Organization of American Historians (OAH) and the Japan Association for American Studies (JAAS), with support from the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission. Moore, now chair of the OAH/JAAS committee, says “It’s an interaction among a diverse group of people that allows for professional and personal growth, often sparking long-term relationships.”

The program, which began in 1997 sends two OAH scholars to Japan each year. The  awardees travel to assigned host institutions in different parts of Japan. There they offer six lectures to undergraduates and graduate students, creating scholarly dialogue and exchange, and contributing to the expansion of scholarly networks among students and professors of American history in both countries.

The institutional grant from JUSFC has typically covered housing and the seminars. The grant also allows three Japanese graduate students studying in the United States to attend the OAH annual meeting, providing opportunities for networking with other many scholars. In 2017 Rikkyo University and Osaka University hosted the American scholars. “One of the major highlights was having both scholars attend the JAAS annual meeting at Waseda University,” said Professor Akiyo Okuda of Keio University and JAAS International Committee Chair. “Usually, we have separate panels for each scholar. This time it was very stimulating to hear both speak on the same topic, followed by great questions from the audience.”

At Rikkyo, 200 undergraduate students also listened to a lecture by Harvard University Professor Lisa McGirr, who specializes in the history of the 20th century United States. “Students loved it,” Professor Okuda added. “After the lecture, they had small group discussions to come up with questions to ask Professor McGirr. So many Japanese students are interested in U.S. history and in better understanding what they read and see in the media,” Okuda says.

Nancy Croker, Director of Operations for OAH, believes these types of programs strongly support the mission of JUSFC. “This partnership with the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission is a natural fit. Providing a platform for scholars, graduate and undergraduate students to learn and engage with each other continues to build and strengthen the relationship between Japan and the United States,” Croker notes.

“Without JUSFC’s support, we wouldn’t be able to continue this program. We plan to keep up the momentum and are excited to see what happens next.”

To learn more about OAH, visit http://www.oah.org/ and follow them on Facebook and Twitter. To learn more about JAAS, visit http://www.jaas.gr.jp/english/. More information on JUSFC institutional grants can be found here.