Stephen Vlastos

Professor Emeritus

Stephen Vlastos taught Japanese history. His major field of research has been early modern and modern rural social movements and political economy. He has written on agrarian political economy in the Tokugawa and Meiji periods; agrarianism as an ideology in prewar Japan; protest upheaval in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; "tradition" and modernity in Japanese culture; and Vietnam War historiography. Stephen is currently focusing on Japanese foreign relations in the prewar period, including representations of Japan in Hollywood cinema, and post-war Japanese national myth-making.

From 2000-2005 Stephen served as director of the UI Center for Asian and Pacific Studies where he secured a major grant from the Freeman Foundation to upgrade undergraduate education in Asian Studies.

Stephen served on numerous national executive and advisory committees related to Japanese studies, including the ACLS-SSRC Joint Committee on Japanese Studies and the Japan Advisory Board of the Social Science Research Council. In 1996 he was elected to the Northeast Asia Council of the Association of Asian Studies, and in 1998-99, he served as chair of that council. Since 2006 he has served as the Japan book review editor for the Journal of Asian Studies. Stephen has been affiliated with several Japanese universities over the years, including Rikkyo, Meiji, Kyoto, and Tokyo Universities. In 1995, he held a Distinguished Visiting Lectureship at Meiji University in Tokyo. In 1999, he was the Visiting Toyota Professor at the University of Michigan Center of Japanese Studies. Stephen earned a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1977 and a B.A. from Princeton University in 1966.


Courses taught include:

  • HIST:2251  Colloquium for History Majors (American)
  • HIST:2604  Civilizations of Asia: Japan
  • HIST:4610  Japan - Age of the Samurai
  • HIST:4615  Modern Japan
  • HIST:4620  Japan-U.S. Relations, 1850s-2000
  • HIST:7630  Readings in Japanese History

Awards and service

  • AKP Research Teaching Fellowship, Doshisha University, Kyoto (Fall 2008)
  • University of Michigan Toyota Visiting Professor (Fall 1999)
  • National Humanities Center Fellowship (1996-1997)
  • American Council of Learned Societies and Social Science Research Council Advanced Research Grant, University of Iowa (Fall 1994)
  • Japan Foundation Senior Professional Research Fellowship, Tokyo University, Japan (1992-1993, 1979-1980)
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend, Rhetoric of Social History Symposium, University of Iowa (1992)
  • American Council of Learned Societies Grant-in-Aid Fellowship, Berkeley, California (Spring 1979)




Research areas
  • Modern Japanese History
  • Agrarian Political Economy During the Tokugawa and Meiji Periods
  • Japanese Culture, Traditions and Modernity
  • Japan and U.S. Relations
  • International Relations in Asia Pacific Region