Current Institutional Affiliation
Professor, History, Williams College

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2001
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, Harvard University
Violence in the Politics of Modern Japan

My research will examine the violent sites of interaction between organized crime and elite politics in Japan during the period 1868 to 1952 to challenge current understandings of high politics as the locus of political power. A scholarly monograph on the history of organized crime has yet to be written in English; previous scholarship on Japanese political history has not explored non-elite, much less gangster, involvement in elite politics. My study will reconceptualize the nature of political power in modem Japan through an examination of three specific contentions: 1) that continuities in the use of violence from the 1880s to the 1930s challenge the idea of a rupture between the "fascism" of prewar Japan and the "democracy" of earlier decades; 2) that socially legitimate ideologies were formed and re-formed to mask the more pragmatic goals of organized crime groups; 3) that the state's response to organized crime varied in different historical contexts and reflected the degree of flexibility in political systems.