Gregory James Smits


Department of History, 211 Weaver Building, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA  16802 



Pennsylvania State University, 1997-Present

Professor of History and Asian Studies, 2016-present

Associate Professor of History and Asian Studies, 2008-2016

Associate Professor of History, 2002-2008

Assistant Professor of History, 1997-2002

Eastern Washington University, 1992-1997

Assistant Professor of History, 1992-1997

Formal Education

University of Southern California, Ph.D. (History), 1989-1992

University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa, M.A. (Asian Studies), 1985-1987

University of Florida, B.A. (History), 1979-1983


Penn State Teaching Portfolio

Author of the Web version of RLST 1 (Introduction to World Religions)

HIST 1 (Western Civilization I)

HIST 10 (World History I)

HIST 11 (World History II)

ASIA 100  (What is Asia?)

RLST 104 (Introduction to Buddhism)

HIST 122  (History of Science I)

HIST 123 (History of Science II)

HIST 172 (Survey of Japanese Civilization)

HIST 174 (Traditional East Asia)

HIST 175 (Modern East Asia)

GEOSC/HIST 212N (Earthquakes and Human History)

HIST 302W (Undergraduate Seminar)

HIST 480 (Japan in the Age of Warriors)

HIST 481 (Modern Japan Since 1800)

HIST 586 (Modern Japan)

HIST 602 (Supervised Experience in College Teaching)



As a graduate student, my focus was East Asian intellectual history. Early in my career, I combined this focus with an interest in the history of Ryukyu (the Ryukyu islands, encompassing present-day Okinawa Prefecture and parts of Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan). The result was a series of articles on early modern Ryukyuan political thought and the book Visions of Ryukyu. I have also worked on economic thought in early modern Japan and Ryukyu. During the decade 2005-2015, I took up an entirely different topic, the history of earthquakes. Examining earthquakes from perspectives such as cultural history, political history, and the history of science, I produced a series of articles and two books. Recently I have returned to Ryukyuan history and plan to write several books in that realm. The first, Maritime Ryukyuyu, 1050-1650, is a major reappraisal of early Ryukyu and its maritime network: the islands and coastal regions of the East China Sea. I have recently competed a follow-up volume.


manuscript tentatively titled "A New Model of Early Ryukyuan History." Undergoing review.

Maritime Ryukyu, 1050-1650. University of Hawai'i Press, January 2019. ISBN 9780824873370. A revisionist history of early Ryukyu that calls into question many contemporary assumptions and approaches and even many of the basic “facts” about early Ryukyu as commonly found in survey histories. Maritime Ryukyu uses a diverse array of sources, does not rely on the official histories, embeds the Ryukyu islands within broader maritime networks, and pays close attention to places outside of Naha/Shuri and to islands other than Okinawa. (Paperback, February 29, 2020, ISBN  9780824884277). <Reviews: H-Japan / American Historical Review / The Journal of Japanese Studies / Japanese Studies / Monumenta Nipponica>  <NBN Podcast>

When the Earth Roars: Lessons from the History of Earthquakes in Japan. Rowman and Littlefield, March 2014. ISBN 9781442220096. Places the March 11, 2011 disaster in historical perspective. A social and intellectual history of earthquakes in early-modern and, especially, modern Japan. The geographic focus is the NE Pacific coast. Argues that as natural disasters, each earthquake is unique. (Podcast Interview) <Review in Engineering and Technology> <Choice: "Essential. All levels."> <Review in The Journal of Asian Studies> <Review in The Journal of Japanese Studies>

Seismic Japan: The Long History and Continuing Legacy of the Ansei Edo Earthquake. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, December 2013. ISBN 9780824838171. Examines historical significance, cultural effects, and theories of earthquakes between 1596 and 1933, with emphasis on the Ansei Edo Earthquake of 1855. (Podcast Interview) <Review in Engineering and Technology> <Review in The Journal of Asian Studies>

琉球王国の自画像:近世沖縄思想史. 訳 渡辺美季. ぺりかん社, 2011. ISBN9784831512987 (Japanese edition of Visions of Ryukyu, Watanabe Miki, main translator) (Review by Takara)

Visions of Ryukyu: Identity and Ideology in Early-Modern Thought and Politics. University of Hawai'i Press, 1999. ISBN: 9780824820374. (Review by Ooms, Review by Roberts, Review by Howell, Review by Wigen, Review by McCormak) . (Paperback, 2017 ISBN 9780824873790)

Edited Volume

Bettina Gramlich-Oka, co-editor. Economic Thought in Early-Modern Japan. Brill, 2010. ISBN 978-90-04-18383-4. Volume 1 in the series Monies, Markets, and Finance in East Asia, 1600-1900. Contributions include "Guiding Horses with Rotten Reins: Economic Thought in the Eighteenth-century Kingdom of Ryukyu" and  Mark Metzler, co-author, "The Autonomy of Market Activity and the Emergence of Keizai Thought." (Japanese edition: 川口浩, ベティナ・グラムリヒ・オカ(編), 田中アユ子, 安野正士(訳),『日米欧からみた近世日本の経済思想』, 岩田書院 2013. ISBN: 978-4-87294-785-4.)

Journal Articles, Book Chapters, and Digitally Published Essays in English

"Rethinking Early Ryukyuan History." The Asia-Pacific Journal, Volume 17, Issue 7, Number 1,  (April 1, 2019).

"Re-Writing Early Ryukyuan History." International Journal of Okinawan Studies, Volume 9, December 2018: 45-57.

"The Ansei Edo Earthquake and Catfish Prints" (2018). Part of Meiji at 150 Visual Essays, University of British Columbia. (

"Probabilistic Earthquake Hazard Maps." In Kären Wigen, Sugimoto Fumiko, and Cary Karacas, eds., Cartographic Japan: A History in Maps, University of Chicago Press, 2016, 226-229.

"Rethinking Ryukyu." International Journal of Okinawan Studies, 6.10 (December, 2015): 1-19.

"New Cultures, New Identities: Becoming Okinawan and Japanese in 19th-Century Ryukyu." In Peter Nosco, James E. Ketelaar, and Yasunori Kojima, eds., Values, Identity, and Equality in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Japan, Brill,  2015, 159-178. (Japanese edition: Edo no naka no Nihon: kachikan, aidentiti, byōdō no shiten kara 江戸のなかの日本:価値観・アイデンティティ・平等の視点から. ISBN: 9784760147595.

"Volcanic Hazards as Components of Complex Systems: The Case of Japan", The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 13, Issue 32, No. 6, August 17, 2015.

"Earthquakes as Social Drama in the Tokugawa Period." In Philip Brown and Bruce Batten, eds. Environment and Society in the Japanese Islands, Oregon State University Press, 2015, 58-72. ISBN 978-0-87071-801-4.

"Making Destiny in the Kingdom of Ryukyu." In Chun-chieh Huang and John Allen Tucker, eds., Dao: A Companion to Japanese Confucian Philosophy, Springer, 2014, 109-140. ISBN 978-90-481-2920-1.

"Conduits of Power: What the Origins of Japan’s Earthquake Catfish Reveal about Religious Geography," Japan Review, Vol. 24 (2012): 41-65.

"Danger in the Lowground: Historical Context for the March 11, 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 9, Issue 20, No. 4, May 16, 2011. Reprinted at History News Network (HNN), Wednesday, May 18, 2011. Reprinted in Engineering World (June-July 2011): 16-21. Reprinted as "Building on Fault Lines" in Jeff Kingston, ed. Tsunami, Japan's Post-Fukushima Future: Essays on the Aftershocks of Japan's Nuclear Nightmare (Foreign Policy, 2011): 67-87.

"Examining the Myth of Ryukyuan Pacifism,"  Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 8, Issue 37 (September 13, 2010). Reprinted at History News Network (HNN), September 26, 2010.

"Romanticizing the Ryukyuan Past: Origins of the Myth of Ryukyuan Pacifism," International Journal of Okinawan Studies, Premier Issue (March, 2010): 51-68.

"Warding off Calamity in Japan: A Comparison of the 1855 Catfish Prints and the 1862 Measles Prints,"  East Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine, No. 30 (2009): 9-31.

"Namazu-e: Catfish Prints of 1855," Andon (Publication of the Society for Japanese Arts), Vol. 86 (2009): 35-46.

"Money in the Kingdom of Ryukyu." In Thomas Hirzel and Nanny Kim, eds.,  Metals, Monies, and Markets in Early Modern Societies: East Asian and Global Perspectives. Special issue of Bunka-Wenhua, vol. 17 (2008): 107-117.

"Recent Trends in Scholarship on the History of Ryukyu’s Relations with China and Japan." In Hans Dieter Ölschleger, ed. Theories and Methods in Japanese Studies: Current State and Future Developments (Papers in Honor of Josef Kreiner), Göttingen: Bonn University Press via V&R Unipress, 2007, 215-228.

Ruth Ludwin, co-author, "Folklore and Earthquakes: Native American Oral Traditions from Cascadia Compared with Written Traditions from Japan." In L. Piccardi and W. B. Masse, eds., Myth and Geology  London: Geological Society of London, 2007, 67-94.

"Sai On’s Autobiography as Didactic Rhetoric" Early Modern Japan: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Vol. 14 (2006): 40-50.

"The Politics of Culture in Early Twentieth Century Okinawa."  In Josef Kreiner, ed., Japaneseness versus Ryūkyūanism, Bonn, Germany: Bier'sche Verlagsanstalt, 2006, 59-70.

"Shaking Up Japan: Edo Society and the 1855 Catfish Picture Prints," Journal of Social History, 39.4 (Summer, 2006): 1045-1077.

Gary Cross, co-author, "Japan, the U.S. and the Globalization of Children's Consumer Culture," Journal of Social History, 38.4 (Summer, 2005): 873-890.

"Jahana Noboru: Okinawan Activist and Scholar." In Anne Walthall, ed., The Human Tradition in Modern Japan, Scholarly Resources, 2002, 99-113.

"The Ryūkyū Shobun in East Asian and World History." In Josef Kreiner, ed., Ryukyu in World History, Bonn, Germany: Bier'sche Verlagsanstalt, 2001, 279-304.

“Ryukyuan Uses of Chinese Confucianism.” In Josef Kreiner, ed., Ryukyu in World History. Bonn, Germany: Bier'sche Verlagsanstalt, 2001, 167-180.

“Ambiguous Boundaries: Redefining Royal Authority in the Kingdom of Ryukyu,”  Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 60.1 (June, 2000): 89-123.

“Unspeakable Things: Ryukyuan Confucian Sai On’s Ambivalent Critique of Language and Buddhism,”  Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, 24.1-2 (Spring, 1997): 163-178.

“The Intersection of Politics and Thought in Ryukyuan Confucianism: Sai On’s Uses of Quan,”  Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 56.2 (December, 1996): 443-477.

“The Sages’ Scale in Japan: Nakae Tōju (1608-48) and Situational Weighing.” The Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, Fourth Series, vol. 6 (1991): 1-25 (awarded the 1990 Asiatic Society of Japan Prize).

Academic Articles in Japanese

Sai On no jugakuteki shakai kōchiku” 蔡温の儒学的社会の構築 (Sai On's Confucian social engineering) in Higashi-Ajia kaiiki kōryūshi, genchi chōsa kenkyū: chiiki, kankyō, shinsei 東アジア海域交流史、現地調査研究:地域・環境・心性, no. 4 (2010): 94-102. (ISBN 9784903633077)

"'Ryūkyū bijon' to Sai On" 「琉球ビジョン」と蔡温 (Visions of Ryukyu and Sai On). Shimatati しまたてぃ (島建て), No. 43 (October, 2007): 4-7.

"Okinawa aidentiti no rekishiteki hendō to sono jijō 沖縄アイデンティティの歴史的変動とその事情" [Changes in the nature and circumstances of Okinawan identity through history]. Hōsei daigaku kokusai Nihongaku kenkyū sentaa, ed., Okinawa no aidentitii 沖縄のアイデンティティー. Tokyo: Hōsei daigaku kokusai Nihongaku kenkyū sentaa, 2005: 38-46, 384-388.

"Nijusseiki ni okeru bunka to seiji no retorikku: 1940-nen no Okinawa hōgen ronsō o chūshin to shite" 二十世紀における文化と政治のレトリック: 1940年の沖縄方言論争を中心として [The rhetoric of politics and culture in Okinawa from the standpoint of the 1940 language dispute], Dai-yonkai Okinawa kenkyū kokusai shinpōjiumu jikkō iinkai, eds., Sekai ni hiraku Okinawa Kenkyū 世界に拓く沖縄研究. Naha, Japan: Kinjō insatsu, 2003: 133-146.

“Sai On ni yoru jugaku riyō no sanmen: kagaku, ideorogii, retorikku” 蔡温による儒学利用の三面―科学・イデオロギー・レトリック [Three dimensions of Sai On’s uses of Confucianism: science, ideology, rhetoric], Okinawa bunka kenkyū, no. 25 (March, 1999): 25-32.

Sai On no gakutō to shisō: toku ni bukkyō/shaka ron o chūshin to shite蔡温の学統と思想―特に仏教・釈迦論を中心として [Sai On’s intellectual lineage and thought from the standpoint of his writing on Buddhism and Sakyamuni]. Okinawa bunka kenkyū, no. 23 (March, 1997): 1-38.

“Ryūkyū ōkoku ni okeru jugaku no seiritsu: sono tokuchō to rekishiteki jijō” 琉球王国における儒学の成立―その特徴と歴史的事情 [The development of Confucianism in the Ryukyu Kingdom: its characteristics and historical circumstances]. Shibun, no. 102 (March, 1994): 56-76.

Sai On no Ryūkyū kokka ron蔡温の琉球国家論 [Sai On’s theory of the Ryukyuan state]. Okinawa taimusu, serialized in three parts, 6-6 / 6-7 / 6-8, 1989.

“Ryūkyū no iseisha Sai On ni tsuite” 琉球の為政者蔡温について [Sai On: statesman of Ryukyu]. Gyokuryu kiyō, no. 7 (Kagoshima, Japan 1989): 40-47.

Ajia jukyōshi ni okeru Sai On アジア儒教史における蔡温 [Sai On in East Asian Confucianism]. Ryūkyū shinpō, serialized in two parts, 8-17 / 8-19, 1988.

Book Reviews and Other Publications

Review of  Earthquake Children: Building Resilience from the Ruins of Tokyo, by Janet Borland. Monumenta Nipponica, 76.1 (2021): 224-227.

Review of The Ryukyu Kingdom: Cornerstone of East Asia, by Mamoru Akamine. Monumenta Nipponica, 72.1 (2017): 92-95.

Review of Heritage Politics: Shuri Castle and Okinawa’s Incorporation into Modern Japan, 1879–2000,  by Tze May Loo.  Journal of Japanese Studies, 42.1 (Winter 2016):  201-205.

Review of Japan at Nature's Edge: The Environmental Context of a Global Power, edited by Ian Jared Miller, Juila Adeney Thomas, and Brett L. Walker. The Journal of Asian Studies, 74.1 (February, 2015).

Review of A History of Japanese Political Thought, 1600-1901, by Watanabe Hiroshi, translated by David Noble. The Journal of Asian Studies, 74.1 (February, 2015).

Review of The Great Kantō Earthquake and the Chimera of National Reconstruction in Japan, by J. Charles Schencking. Journal of Japanese Studies, 40.2  (Summer, 2014).

"The Past Matters: Lessons From History and From Japan’s March 11 Earthquake and Tsunami" introduction to an interview with Lori Dengler. The Asia-Pacific Journal, vol. 9, issue 23, no. 1, June 6, 2011. Reprinted at History News Network (HNN), June 5, 2011.

Review of Earthquake Nation: The Cultural Politics of Japanese Seismicity, 1868-1930, by Gregory Clancey. The Journal of Japanese Studies, 34.1 (Winter, 2008): 103-106.

"Okinawa" in The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World: 1750 to the Present. Peter N. Stearns, ed. Oxford University Press, 2008.

Review of Review of Leaves from an Autumn of Emergencies: Selections from the Wartime Diaries of Ordinary Japanese, by Samuel Hideo Yamashita. American Journal of Education, 114.1 (November 2007): 165–167.

Review of Friends, Acquaintances, Pupils and Patrons—Japanese Intellectual Life in the Late Eighteenth Century: A Prosopographical Approach, by Anna Beerens.  Monumenta Nipponica 62.2 (Summer, 2007): 221-223.

Review of Bonds of Civility: Aesthetic Networks and the Political Origins of Japanese Culture, by Eiko Ikegami, Journal of Social History, 40.1 (Fall, 2006): 251-253.

Review of The Last Samurai: The Life and Battles of Saigō Takamori, by Mark Ravina. The Journal of Asian Studies,  65.1 (February, 2006): 198-199.

Review of Prisoners from Nambu: Reality and Make-Believe in 17th-Century Japanese Diplomacy, by Reinier H. Hesselink. The Journal of Japanese Studies, 30.1 (2004): 159-163.

Review of The Conquest of Ainu Lands: Ecology and Culture in Japanese Expansion, 1590-1800, by Brett L. Walker. American Historical Review, 107.4 (October 2002): 1206-1207.

"Shinto," The Oxford Companion to the Body. Colin Blakemore and Sheila Jennett, Editors-in Chief. Oxford University Press, 2001, 593-594.

Review of The I Ching in Tokugawa Thought and Culture, by Wai-ming Ng. Journal of Asian Studies, 60.1 (February, 2001): 223-4.

Review of Ghost of War: The Sinking of the Awa Maru and Japanese-American Relations, 1945-1995, by Roger Dingman, Journal of Asian Studies, 58.4 (November, 1999): 1136-7.

Review of Interpreting Amida: History and Orientalism in the Study of Pure Land Buddhism, by Galen Amstutz. Philosophy East and West, 49.3 (July, 1999): 284-6.

Review of Tokugawa Village Practice, by Herman Ooms, January 10, 1997 on H-Japan, a division of the Humanities Net internet discussion group.

Review of Deep Words: Miura Baien’s System of Natural Philosophy, by Rosemary Mercer. Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, 19.4 (December, 1992): 401-4.

Review of Political Thought in Japanese Historical Writing: From Kojiki (712) to Tokushi Yoron (1712), by John S. Brownlee. Journal of Asian Studies, 51.3 (August, 1992): 666-7.

Review of Moral and Spiritual Cultivation in Japanese Neo-Confucianism: The Life and Thought of Kaibara Ekken (1630-1714), by Mary Evalyn Tucker. Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, 18.1 (March, 1991): 85-88.


"A New Model of Early Ryukyuan History" (University of Virginia, October 29, 2021).

"Early Ryukyuan History: Official Histories and Beyond," (University of Hawaii at Manoa, March 4, 2020).

"Becoming Ryukyuan and Japanese in the Meiji and Taisho Eras," (University of Hawaii at Manoa, March 3, 2020).

"Early Ryukyu as a Frontier Region of Japan," (Kyushu University, June 20, 2019).

"Earthquakes and History," Monumenta Nipponica 80th Anniversary Symposium (Sophia University, October 6, 2018).

"Trying to Outsmart the Earth: Earthquake Prediction in Japan and Some of its Costs" (Keynote lecture for the conference "Searching for the Historical Roots of the March 11th, 2011 Disaster in Japan," Arizona State University, April 24, 2014).

" 'Catfish' Catastrophe in Japan" (Indiana University of Pennsylvania, February 26, 2014).

Catfish Catastrophe: Japanese Earthquake Prints from 1855 (University of Toronto, December 4, 2013).

"New Values, New Identities: Becoming Okinawan and Japanese in 19th-Century Ryukyu" (Symposium on Early Modern Japanese Values and Individuality, University of British Columbia, August 29, 2013).

"Rites to Assuage Starving Ghosts: Tokugawa Nariaki Causes the 1855 Ansei Edo Earthquake" (annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, March 2013, San Diego).

"Making a Good Impression: Cultural Drama in the Ryukyu-China Relationship" (international symposium, "Interpreting Parades and Processions of Edo Japan: History, Culture, and Foreign Relations," University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, February 11, 2013).

"Zenchō Everywhere: A Brief History of Earthquake Prediction in Japan, 1855-2012" (Center for Japanese Studies, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, February 12, 2013).

"Kaigai chishiki no kakutoku: 16 seiki-19 seiki no Okinawa to Higashi Ajia"  海外知識の獲得―16世紀~19世紀の沖縄と東アジア (Acquiring knowledge from abroad: Okinawa and East Asia, 16-19 centuries). Keynote lecture at the symposium Ryūgaku to shakai keisei 留学と社会形成 (Study abroad and social formation). Meiō University, Nago, Japan, November 23, 2012.

"Laughing at Disaster: Humor in Japanese Popular Media from the Ansei Edo Earthquake" (University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany, July 2, 2012).

"Seismic Contours of Japan: The 1855 Ansei Edo Earthquake" (Nanjing University, Nanjing, China, May 29, 2012).

"Japan and the Social History of its Earthquakes" (geology/science part of the Phila-Nipponica Program, University of Pennsylvania, May 12, 2012).

"Thinking Through Disaster: Japanese Earthquakes Past and Present" (Columbia University, April 6, 2012).

“Early Modern Earthquake Prediction: Between Theory and Folk Knowledge” (Early Modern Japan Network in conjunction with the Association for Asian Studies, March 15, 2012, Toronto).

"Thoughts on 1000-Year Earthquakes" (Modern Japan Seminar, Yale University, November 12, 2011).

"The Transformation of Female Officials in the Ryukyu Kingdom" (annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, March 2011, Honolulu).

"Earthquakes as Social Drama in Early Modern Japan" (environmental history workshop, March 28, 2011 Honolulu)

"Aquatic Monsters: The Roots of Japan’s Earthquake Catfish" (meeting of the Southern Japan Seminar, Florida International University, February, 2010).

"Popular Representations of the Ansei Edo Earthquake" (annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, March 2009, Chicago).

"Thoughts on the State of Okinawan Studies in North America and Europe" (keynote address, Center for Okinawan Studies conference "From Aza, through Sanzan, Loochoo, and Ryukyu, to Okinawa, to Uchinanchu Diaspora—Where is Okinawan Studies Headed?" March 2009, Honolulu).

"Interpreting Disaster in Bakumatsu Society: Readings of the 1855 Ansei Edo Earthquake" (annual meeting of the  Asian Studies Conference Japan, June 2008, Tokyo).

"Depicting Upheaval: The 1855 Namazu-e and the 1862 Hashika-e" (annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, April 2008, Atlanta).

"Bakufu Responses to the Ansei Edo Earthquake of 1855" (meeting of the Southern Japan Seminar, Florida International University, February, 2008).

"The Ansei Edo Earthquake of 1855 as a Political Event" (Columbia University Modern Japan Seminar, December 2007, New York).

"Ryukyu and Sino-Japanese Trade" (annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, March 2007, Boston).

"Money in the Kingdom of Ryukyu," Monies, Markets and Finance in China and East Asia, 1600-1900, Institute of Chinese Studies, University of Heidelberg, October 12-16, 2006.

Ruth Ludwin, co-author. Poster presentation: "Evolution of the catfish (namazu) as an earthquake symbol in Japan" <10MB PDF> (Seismological Society of America Conference, April 2006, San Francisco). (Printable handout <4MB PDF>)

"Romantic Ryukyu in Okinawan Politics: The Myth of Ryukyuan Pacifism" (annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, April 2006, San Francisco).

"Recent Trends in Scholarship on the History of Ryukyu’s Relations with China and Japan," (Symposium: State, Current Developments and Future Tasks in Japanese Studies, Bonn University, Germany, 3 February 2006).

Discussant for the panel "Romantic Ryukyu in Okinawa Politics" (11th Conference of the European Association for Japanese Studies; History, Politics and International Relations section, Vienna, Austria August 31 - September 3, 2005).

"Autobiography as Allegory: Sai On’s Jijoden" (11th Conference of the European Association for Japanese Studies; History, Politics and International Relations section, Vienna, Austria August 31 - September 3, 2005).

"Responses to the Ansei Edo Earthquake of 1855" (Conference on Natural Disaster in Asian History, Culture, and Memory, National University of Singapore, August 26-27, 2005).

"Autobiography as Allegory: Sai On’s Jijoden" (Meeting of the Early-Modern Japan Network in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, March 2005, Chicago).

"Okinawa aidentiti no rekishiteki hendō to sono jijō 沖縄アイデンティティの歴史的変動とその事情" (Changes in the nature and circumstances of Okinawan identity through history) (Okinawa Identity International Symposium, Hōsei University, Tama Campus, March 9, 2004).

The Politics of Culture in Early Twentieth-Century Okinawa (4th International Conference on Okinawan Studies, March 26, 2002, Bonn, Germany).

“The Politics of Medicine in the Ryukyu Kingdom” (Meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, March 2000, San Diego).

“Picturing Ōbei: Japanese Images of the West, 19th and 20th Centuries” (Meeting of the Semiotic Society of America, 10-30-99, Pittsburgh).

“Sai On ni yoru jugaku riyō no sanmen: kagaku, ideorogii, retorikku” 蔡温による儒学の三面:科学・イデオロギー・レトリック [Three dimensions of Sai On’s uses of Confucianism: science, ideology, rhetoric] (International symposium in Ryukyuan studies sponsored by Hōsei University’s Center for Research in Okinawan Culture, Naha, Japan, November 29, 1998).

“Universality and Particularity in the Religious Praxis of Nakae Tōju” (conference of the American Academy of Religion/Society for Biblical Literature, 11-21-1998, Orlando, FL).

“Ryukyuan Uses of Chinese Confucianism” (Symposium on “Ryukyu in the History of East Asia, Asia and the World,” Bonn University, September 30, 1998).

“Ryūkyū no sho-bijon” 琉球の諸ビジョン [Visions of Ryukyu] (Symposium on Ryukyuan Studies in the United States, Ryukyu University, June 21, 1998).

“Tentō Thought in Sixteenth and Seventeenth-Century Japan” (meeting of the Columbia University Seminar in Neo-Confucian Studies, May 1, 1998).

“Comparative Anxieties: Words and Images, Europe and East Asia, Fifteenth Through Eighteenth Centuries” (112th annual meeting of the American Historical Association, Seattle, WA, January 10, 1998).

Discussant for the panel “Chinese Intellectual Expression” (meeting of the Western Conference of the Association for Asian Studies, Ogden, UT, October 26, 1996).

“Incipient Nationalism?—Two Ryukyuan Responses to Japanese Domination” (48th annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, Honolulu, April, 1996).

“Between China and Japan: Ryukyuan Intellectual Responses to Japanese Domination, 1650-1750” (meeting of the Western Conference of the Association for Asian Studies, Lewiston, ID, September 30, 1995).

“The Kikoe Ōgimi: From Empowering Agent to Expedient Device” (2nd international symposium of the International Society for Ryukyuan Studies, March 24, 1994, Reischauer Institute, Harvard University).

“Politics and History in Ryukyuan Confucianism: Sai On’s Use of Quan” (meeting of the Columbia University Seminar in Neo-Confucian Studies, April 2, 1993).

“Sai On to jūhasseiki no Ryūkyū ōkoku” 蔡温と十八世紀の琉球王国 [Sai On and the Eighteenth-Century Ryukyu Kingdom] (meeting of the Hayato Kenkyūkai, Kagoshima, Japan, May 5, 1988).

“The Eighteenth-Century Ryukyu Kingdom: Confucianism and Statecraft” (40th annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, San Francisco, March, 1988).


Major Administrative Work

Penn State:

Director of Graduate Studies, Department of History, 2017-2020

Scheduling Officer, Department of History, 2012-2015

SARI Program (graduate) history representative 2009-2010

Director of Undergraduate Studies, Asian Studies, 2008-2010

Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of History, 2001-2004

Director of the East Asian Studies major and minor (now Asian Studies), 1999-2004, 2005-2008

Honors Advisor, history, 2001-2002

Webmaster, Department of History, 2001-2004

Major Past Service on Committees

At Penn State University: Immediate Tenure Committe (college); Promotion and Tenure Committee (college); Promotion and Tenure Committee (department); Full Professor Committee (department); Policy Committee (department); Early Modern Studies Group (department); Undergraduate Committee (department) Graduate Studies Committee (department); Graduate Evaluation Committee (department); Speakers Committee (department); Chair, Computer & Technology Committee (department); Chair of several search committees (department); Chair of East Asian Studies Committee (college).

Public Talks and Guest Lectures

I have given dozens of public and guest lectures in a variety of forums.

Other Professional Activity and Service

Advisory Board for Okinawan Journal of Island Studies (2019-present)

Associate for The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus (2011-present)

Program review team member. Bucknell University, Department of Asian Studies, March 2021

Editorial board of Early-Modern Japan: An Interdisciplinary Journal (2007-2014)

Outside reviewer/referee for a variety of journals, academic presses, P&T cases, grants, et cetera.


Florence Liu Macaulay Distinguished Lecturer, University of Hawai'i, April 2007

Institute for the Arts and Humanities Individual Grant, Penn State University, 2004

Forster Award, Department of History, 2000

RGSO Grant, Penn State University, 1998

Faculty Research Grant, Eastern Washington University, 1995

Faculty Assessment Grant, Eastern Washington University, 1994

Haynes Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, Univ. of Southern CA, 1991-92

Asiatic Society of Japan Prize, 1990

Haynes Foundation Fellowship, University of Southern CA, 1990-91

Taraknath Das Prize, History Dept., University of Hawai'i, 1986-7

National Resource Fellowship, University of Hawai'i, 1986-87

Pacific-Asian Fellowship, University of Hawai'i, 1985-86