Marius B. Jansen: He's remembered by colleagues and students as the most eminent historian of modern Japan

Historians in the News

The late Marius Jansen was America's most eminent historian of modern Japan. Admired in Japan and Europe, he not only contributed to the study of Japanese history but also connected that history to the worlds outside this archipelago.

As he said in a 1994 lecture at the Kyoto Conference on Japanese Studies: "Japan studied the rest of the world, but until recently that world studied Japan very little." Indeed, it was only with the generation that Jansen represents that "new awareness throughout the world [realized] that Japanese culture and civilizations deserve and indeed demand serious attention as an important part of the world's cultural heritage."

It is this that is celebrated in the present volume [JAPAN AND ITS WORLDS: Marius B. Jansen and the Internationalization of Japanese Studies, edited by Martin Collcutt, Kato Mikio and Ronald P. Toby. I-House Press, 2007], contributions by old friends and former students forming a tribute, which is also an extension of the major themes and concerns in his work. Evolved from the Marius Jansen Memorial Conference held at the International House of Japan in December 2001, this collection of essays and tributes form not only a deserved festschrift but also a continuation of Jansen's findings, interests, and methods.

As one of the contributors, Tom Havens, writes: "Marius Jansen exemplified the virtuoso scholarly life . . . . He produced more books, chapters, and articles after age sixty than most historians do in a lifetime." And all were influential. The Japanese historian Hiroshi Mitani credits him with being the first to generate a synergy between Japanese and American researchers. Before then, "the relationship between research on Japanese history in Japan and the United States had been rather like two puppies chasing each other's tails."
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