Robert Hegwood

Ph.D. Candidate

B.S. summa cum laude Portland State University (2008)
MA World History Portland State University (2011)


Fred Dickinson
Eiichiro Azuma

Personal Statement:

As an historian, I am primarily interested in the tangible aspects of race and national identity as seen through the cultures of everyday life as well as the role of diasporas in the development of their homelands. 

 I study the tangible effects of racial ideologies and transnational networks in postwar Japan and the Japanese American community. My dissertation, titled: "The Social Foundations for Growth: Nikkei Brokers and Japan in the Global Imaginary, 1930-1965" highlights the role of Japanese American community leaders, businessmen, and reporters in providing a social foundation in the United States for Japanese corporations and government officials to shift American perceptions of Japan and its products following the Pacific War.They did so through a broad network of formal and informal diplomacy, the introduction of Japanese food culture to the general public, and through the reconnection of prewar social networks centered on the Japanese-language press.

My project also illustrates Japanese views on their "overseas brethren" in the US and how that played into reformulations of Japan's role in the postwar world. I examine claims the Japanese government and corporations made on its "overseas brethren" in a project of economic nation building after the Pacific War, prior to the economic miracle. The Japanese American community as a whole, on the other hand, generally prided themselves as one-hundred percent Americans to the American public while its leaders often built businesses based on tourism and trade with Japan. Such businesses provided Japan with much-needed currency and a network of relationships to understand postwar America and better plan how to expand exports into the postwar market. Furthermore, Japanese Americans served as the face of Japan in sukiyaki restaurants and international expositions, helping to create a booming popularity for Japanese cultural products.

When I am not writing or working in the archives, I enjoy cycling, rock climbing, and reliving my former life as a professional chef by making both new dishes and huge messes in the kitchen. 

CV (file): 
Research Interests: 

Modern Japanese History, Japanese American history, economic history, race, immigration, and nationalism

Other Affiliations: 

University of Tokyo, Center for Pacific and American Studies (2014-2015)