Publication Date

February 1, 2005

Perspectives Section


John Dower, Ford International Professor of History at MIT, and a noted historian of modern Japan and of US-Japanese relations, is among four scholars who received the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Distinguished Achievement Awards announced in December 2004.

Amounting to as much as $1.5 million each in this, the fourth round, the awards are intended to underscore the decisive contributions the humanities make to the nation’s intellectual life, and honor scholars who have made significant contributions to humanistic inquiry and enable them to teach and do research under especially favorable conditions. At the same time, the awards enlarge opportunities for scholarship offered by the academic institutions with which the recipients are affiliated.

Thus, the awards will provide the not only the recipients but also their institutions with resources to extend humanistic scholarship. In contrast, therefore, to other notable academic award programs that benefit the individual scholar exclusively, the Mellon Foundation’s Distinguished Achievement Awards are designed to recognize the interdependence of scholars and their institutions. While honoring the achievements of individuals, the grants will support specific institutional programs of activities that will enhance both research and teaching.

Dower, an AHA member, is a meticulous researcher in a wide range of textual and visual sources. His work reveals a deep commitment to exploring the common humanity of societies, even during periods of great tension and conflict. His elegantly written and widely acclaimed studies of Japanese diplomacy, the racist dimensions of the war in the Pacific, and the American occupation of Japan have influenced scholars in both East Asian and American history, as well as in many other fields. Dower is currently at work on assembling drawings, prints, and photographs that document a wide range of topics in Japanese history and the history of US-Japanese relations, and is making them accessible in electronic form along with textual elaboration via MIT’s OpenCourseWare program. This new initiative promises to be a major resource for scholarship and teaching.

— Adapted from the foundation’s web site announcement.

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