I am currently conducting research on a group of migrants from rural Japan who started working as pearl-shell divers along the northern coasts of Australia from the late nineteenth century onward. The project examines how these ‘Wakayama shell divers’ used their local knowledge of nature to carve out a particular niche for themselves in the wider world. It simultaneously posits the shell diver, mother-of-pearl, and the ocean as equally significant nodes in the network of historical actors that forms the fabric of any historical narrative. My master’s dissertation, which was awarded the Ivan Morris Memorial Prize from the British Association for Japanese Studies, brought to light new materials on an influential but neglected Buddhist intellectual from the depths of the colonial archives of the Dutch East Indies. Altogether, my studies straddle across a vast area including Japan and the Pacific Basin, as well as various categories of history writing. Among them I include the cultural, environmental, intellectual, diasporic, and, perhaps most notably, transnational history of modern Japan. I am interested in utilizing experimental forms of representation that may assist in mapping marginal epistemologies, documenting migrant experiences, and understanding the role of nonhuman actors in history.
The following organizations have generously supported my doctoral research thus far: Het Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Stichting dr. Hendrik Muller’s Vaderlandsch Fonds, Stichting de Fundatie van de Vrijvrouwe van Renswoude te ‘s-Gravenhage, and The Sasakawa Fund Scholarship – University of Oxford (Faculty of Oriental Studies).