MURATA Katsuyuki


MURATA Katsuyuki Professor
Research Subject

Historical Inquiry into dynamic interconnections of race, ethnicity, nationality and citizenship in U.S. society

Research Fields
American History, American Culture
Faculty - Division / Research Group / Laboratory
Division of Humanities / Research Group of History / Laboratory of Occidental History
Graduate School - Division / Department / Laboratory
Division of Humanities / Department of History / Laboratory of Occidental History
School - Course / Laboratory
Division of Humanities and Human Sciences / Course of History and Anthropology / Laboratory of Occidental History
Related Links


Laboratory of Occidental HistoryMURATA Katsuyuki Professor

Lend your ears to the voice of history
conveyed by “Obama fever”.

Upon hearing the inaugural address delivered by President Obama, a middle-aged black woman shed tears. What do her tears imply? Collective memories, including those related to slavery, racial discrimination and violence in the remote past, that have been passed down through generations in the black community have been condensed into her tears.

My seminar historically assesses the affairs currently occurring in America in the framework of “American Studies”, adopting approaches from various angles, including those of politics, economics and culture. You can even measure Japan’s position not by evaluating whether or not you like how America has influenced Japan, but by measuring it from a deeper perspective. I’d like to highlight the charm of modern American history not just as a mere part of Western history.

Obama T-shirts sold in bustling Chinatown (Photo taken by Professor Murata during a business trip to America)

Never let your reservoir of curiosity run dry,
but pass the baton of inquiry onward.

Anything from music to movies to fashion can be a gateway to interest in America. Nurture questions arising from your mind without letting your reservoir of curiosity run dry. Like a passed baton, a good question serves as a bridge between previous and subsequent questions in the course of history.

I myself still have heaps of questions. I’d like to spend my days at Hokkaido University collaborating with you in egalitarian interactions.


From the perspective of historical science, I am researching issues related to racial violence by the police and large-scale imprisonment of non-whites—often including immigrant and refugees in recent years—symbolized by the term “carceral state” with a focus on America from the end of the 20th century to the present.

From the general standard of historical science, some may question whether my research is methodologically based on historical science because it deals with matters too close to the present. However, if the standard of judgements is set in the “historical way of thinking,” it turns out that even present matters can be the subject of historical science. In addition, reconsidering a prevailing viewpoint from a different angle enables us to see that the boundary of American history research can be hardly delineated within the space of America.

To begin with, I wonder how you can prove American peculiarity and uniqueness without making comparisons with other cases. I also wonder why “we” can exist “here” on the premise of America being “another place” and Americans being “others.” Put simply, my aim is to consider various things by working on America. I look forward to welcoming students who can think flexibly and are inquisitive about everything.