Associate Professor of History Lisa Yoshikawa explores how Japanese historians influenced the country’s expansionism in her book Making History Matter: Kuroita Katsumi and the Construction of Imperial Japan. Published by Harvard University Press, the book offers an engaging take on how “ideological architects” affirmed imperialism through history and myth to ultimately justify domestic authoritarianism and the Asia-Pacific Wars.
“If historians – especially Japan historians researching about the aggressive imperialist nation – cannot be self-critical about their predecessor’s role in this imperialism, their credibility about other issues comes into question,” Yoshikawa says. “I see my book as a step toward this self-examination of the field, with hope that it will help historians to facilitate regional reconciliation today.”
Making History Matter is Yoshikawa’s first book. She joined the faculty in 2006 after earning her Ph.D. in history from Yale University and her B.A. in history from Wellesley College.
“History is as much about the present as it is about the past, and highly political,” Yoshikawa says. “This is why history is so important.”