Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, History, University of California / Berkeley

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2018
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, University of California / Berkeley
Splitting the Atom, Fusing the Nation: Japan and West Germany in the Atomic Age

My dissertation will be a comparative and transnational history of atomic energy as it was experienced in Japan and West Germany during the 1950s and 1960s. The focus of my research is the intellectual elite that instituted the development of the Japanese and West German atomic energy programs. This group, which consisted of bureaucrats, politicians, scientists, and educators among others, argued that developing atomic energy was an absolute necessity—that failing to enter the atomic age would only compound national backwardness and initiate national decline. For these elites, many of whom had collaborated with the Japanese and German wartime regimes, atomic power was not only a way to reinvent the nation in the postwar period—it was also a way to reinvent themselves. Using materials produced by the nuclear energy industries of both countries—namely journals, newspapers, reports, films, histories, and promotional literature—I hope to delineate and contextualize these worldviews and to provide a social, cultural, and intellectual history of this elite. One way to understand the advent of the Atomic Age is to term it a "Sattelzeit," or "threshold period," as historical theorist Reinhart Koselleck termed the period between 1750 and 1850. In the postwar period as well, one could argue that our "horizon of expectation" expanded—that it was expected that progress would continually transform human experience. Contemporaries saw the development of nuclear technology as being central to this transformation. While in Japan, I will be affiliated with the University of Tokyo's Institute of Social Science, where I will work with Professor Hirashima Kenji, a scholar of the comparative institutional history of Japan and Germany. I will carry out my research at Tokyo's National Diet Library, the NHK Archives in Saitama Prefecture, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency Library in Ibaraki Prefecture, as well as a variety of prefectural and municipal libraries throughout Japan.