Publication Date

September 27, 2019

Perspectives Section

Member Spotlight, Perspectives Daily



Kohei Kawashima is a professor at Waseda University. He lives in Suginami, Tokyo, and has been a member since 1987.


Kohei Kawashima

Alma matersMA, University of Tsukuba, 1987; PhD, Brown University, 1992

Fields of interestsocial, sport

Describe your career path. What led you to where you are today?

After finishing my PhD at Brown in 1992, I worked at Kyoritsu Women’s University (1992-94), Kanda University of International Studies (1994-98), Musashi University (1998-2018), and Waseda University (2018-present). My major focus of research/education shifted from urban/social history of the US to history of American sport.

What do you like the most about where you live and work?

I live in Tokyo, which is one of the world’s largest and increasingly most popular cities where many foreign tourists visit every year. I like the ways Tokyo is becoming internationalized every day especially because of the coming of the 2020 Olympics. Waseda University is famous for having very nationally competitive athletic teams that regularly and seasonally give us lots of topics and stimulation in class activities.

What projects are you currently working on?

The current projects I am working on include introduction and diffusion of American sport in Japan, aging and sport, and writing a history of American sport survey book.

Have your interests evolved since graduation? If so, how?

I did course work at Brown in American urban history as my major, and American economic history, history of European science, and Japanese history as my three minors. Since I began teaching in Japan, I have found that research and teaching in history of sport have not been sufficiently done. I have been a lover of sport for a long time. So my interests gradually shifted to this direction.

What’s the most fascinating thing you’ve ever found at the archives or while doing research?

In the University of Chicago’s library, I found letters of Heita Okabe to Amos Alonzo Stagg, both of whom played key roles in the development of (American) football in their respective home countries. The letters reveal and reflect the personality and character of Okabe very clearly.

Is there an article, book, movie, blog etc. that you could recommend to fellow AHA members?

One of the Marx Brothers’ movies, Horse Feathers (1932), because it suggests the roles American football played in the culture and society of the US during the 1930s, and, it is said, it impacted Japan’s fandom of the game.

What do you value most about the history discipline? 

It aims at the objective and empirical understanding of the past, as I argue in my class, and although it is difficult to achieve this goal, it is still valuable to make an effort toward this goal as part of academic trainings in college curriculums.

Why is membership in the AHA important to you? 

It keeps me in touch with American and global communities of historians.

Do you have a favorite AHA annual meeting anecdote you would like to share?

Yes. It was held in Wisconsin during my Brown days (1987-92), the very first one since my enrollment. I took job interviews with a couple of universities. I was very nervous to the extent that I have not been so nervous since then to the very present. It was an unforgettable experience. Although this opportunity did not lead to real jobs, I found the interviewers very polite and kind, despite my nervousness, and I have been appreciative of the gentle and encouraging aspects of American recruiting culture ever since.

AHA members are involved in all fields of history, with wide-ranging specializations, interests, and areas of employment. To recognize our talented and eclectic membership, Perspectives Daily features a regular AHA Member Spotlight series.

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Matthew Keough
Matthew Keough

American Historical Association