My name is Robert Hegwood and I am currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Reischauer Institute for Japanese Studies, Harvard University (2018-2019). I completed my Ph.D. at University of Pennsylvania in Modern Japanese History in 2018.
My research and current monograph project explores the role of Japanese immigrants to the United States as intermediaries in US-Japan commercial and cultural relations and the place of these transpacific migrant networks in broader global history. This study analyzes the interdependence between migrant mobility, the mobility of goods, and promotion of images of Japan across the Pacific. As Japanese emigrated to and settled in the US, they formed transnational social networks that served as a social foundation for Japanese commerce and diplomacy in the US. This research uses the physical spaces of encounter—trade fairs, ethnic enclaves, and ocean liners—as sites to explore efforts by Japanese trade officials and their migrant intermediaries to shape Japan’s image in the eyes of Euro-Americans consumers. Ultimately, I contend, the history of transpacific migration is fundamental to understanding Japan’s role in the modern world.
I started this website in part because there were few bibliographic resources in English that explain the available primary and secondary sources available to write transpacific histories of Japanese migration and commerce. Still a work in progress, this site is a tour of the resources I found useful with as much reference as possible to the utility of these sources for scholars of modern Japan. The entries are currently in English, but will soon feature Japanese descriptions as well.