Since 1886, the American Historical Association has honored foreign scholars distinguished both by their own work in the field of history as well as by the assistance they’ve provided to visiting American historians at work in their countries.
At its January 2015 meeting, the AHA Council selected Natsuki Aruga, emerita professor at Saitama University, as the Honorary Foreign Member for 2015.
Professor Aruga has been a leading scholar of US history and women’s history in Japan for more than three decades. As a scholar, teacher, and organizational head, Professor Aruga has contributed greatly to the development of US women’s history and American studies in Japan. She spent 30 years (1980–2010) as a professor at Saitama University and, since 1995, has been a visiting professor at Taisho University.
Professor Aruga has a record of impressive productivity—she is the author and editor of 15 books (14 included in her CV). She was awarded the prestigious Yamakawa Kikue Prize in 1988 as well as the Japan-United States Friendship Commission Book Award in 1989 for her book Amerika Feminizumu no Shakaishi [A social history of American feminism] (Keiso Shobo, 1988). The articles and book chapters listed among her selected publications reflect her versatility and range, including explorations of child labor in 19th-century America and the employment of women and teenagers during World War II, as well as appraisals of the “new social history,” the shift from women’s history to gender history, and the direction of second-wave feminism. These publications evince her critical and creative engagement with major developments in American historiography.
Professor Aruga’s current research analyzes gender, race, and US militarization within a transnational framework. A scholar of courage as well as discernment, she is tackling the sensitive issue of the Japanese government’s support for prostitution to serve soldiers in the US occupation forces after World War II. This book project not only reveals fresh insights that can be generated by a Japanese perspective on US history, but also demonstrates her commitment as a public intellectual to deepening awareness and understanding of history beyond the ivory tower.
Professor Aruga served as president of the Japanese Association for American Studies from 2008–10 and is currently both executive director of the American Studies Foundation of Japan and international editor for the Organization of American Historians. A pioneer in feminist history and an inspiring teacher, Professor Aruga has introduced historical issues to a wide audience, whether discussing research with students or with the emperor and empress of Japan.
Professor Aruga will attend this year’s annual meeting where, in addition to receiving her commendation at the awards ceremony (Thursday, January 7, 7:30–8:30 pm), she will also comment on the session “Gendering the Trans-Pacific World: Diaspora, Empire, and Race” (Saturday, January 9, 11:30 am–1:30 pm).
This post first appeared on AHA Today.
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