Biography

Andrew Gordon is the Lee and Juliet Folger Fund Professor of History at Harvard University. His teaching and research focus primarily on modern Japan.  He has also taught Japan’s premodern history and courses on comparative history of labor.  He has written, edited, or translated numerous books and has published articles in journals in the United States, Japan, Great Britain, France, and Germany. His most recent book publication is Fabricating Consumers: The Sewing Machine in Modern Japan (University of California Press, 2011), on the emergence of the modern consumer in Japan, using the sewing machine as window on that story.  It has been translated into Japanese and published by Misuzu Shobo in 2013. He is currently working on the contemporary history of Japan's "lost decades," 1990s through present, in a longer historical context.


Gordon’s first book was The Evolution of Labor Relations in Japan: Heavy Industry, 1853-1955 (Harvard University Council on East Asian Studies Monographs, 1985).  A Japanese translation and expanded edition was published by Iwanami Shoten in 2012, with two additional chapters covering the period from the 1960s to the present.  His second book, Labor and Imperial Democracy in Prewar Japan (University of California Press, 1991) won the John King Fairbank Prize in 1992 for the best book on modern East Asian history, and was a finalist for the 1992 Arisawa Hiromi Prize for the best book on Japan.  He wrote The Wages of Affluence: Labor and Management in Postwar Japan, published in October 1998 by Harvard University Press, and A Modern History of Japan, published in fall 2002 by Oxford University Press, and in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean translations. A second edition was published in English in 2008, and a 3rd edition was published in 2013.  

Combining the perspectives of a fan and an academic, in 2007 he published (in Japanese only) The Unknown Story of Matsuzaka’s Major League Revolution (Asahi shinsho, 2007), a book tracking Daisuke Matsuzaka’s first season with the Boston Red Sox and placing it in a cross-cultural and historical context.

He has also edited the book Postwar Japan as History (University of California Press, 1993), published in a Japanese edition in 2002, and he is translator of Portraits of the Japanese Workplace by Kumazawa Makoto (Westview Press, 1996) and The Ashio Copper Mine Riot by Nimura Kazuo (Duke University Press, 1997).

In 2011, while serving as director of the Edwin O. Reischauer Institute for Japanese Studies, Gordon led the Institute in founding the Japan Disaster Archive (jdarchive.org).  This is a digital archive project that seeks to preserve the vast array of digital records concerning the March 11 disaster in Japan and its aftermath, and make those records available to a global community of citizens, students, and scholars in close partnership with many organizations in Japan, including the National Diet Library and Tohoku University.

Gordon has served as chair of the Harvard History Department (2004-07) and director of the Reischauer Institute for Japanese Studies (1998-2004 and 2010-2011).  He has been a member of the Northeast Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies (1994-97) and the Joint Committee on Japanese Studies of the Social Science Research Council and the American Council of Learned Societies (1994-1996).  Before joining the Harvard faculty in 1995 he was a member of the history department at Duke University for ten years.  He has traveled numerous times to Japan, including a year of language study at the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies, and five extended research trips for a total of 9 years living in Japan.  These visits were supported by Fulbright Fellowships and grants from the Japan Foundation, the Center for Global Partnership, and the Social Science Research Council, and by Tokyo University in 2002-03.  He has also been a visiting scholar at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociale in Paris, and a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Studies. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1981 in History and East Asian Languages after completing a B.A. from Harvard in 1975.  In 2014 he was elected as member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Contact: agordon [at] fas.harvard.edu