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Katsuya Hirano

Associate Professor & Vice Chair for Undergraduate Affairs

Contact Information

Email    hirano@history.ucla.edu
Office  5238 Bunche Hall
Phone  310-825-1235
Katsuya Hirano’s teaching and research explore the intersection between history and critical theory with a focus on questions of ideology, political economy, and subject/subjectivity.

His first book, The Politics of Dialogic Imagination: Power and Popular Culture in Early Modern Japan, (Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 2013) looks at the transformation in modes of subject-formation and politics originating from the transformation through an analysis of popular culture from the Tokugawa period (1603-1867) to the first half of the Meiji period (1868-1890). His current book project examines the intersection of capitalism and racism in the making of modern Japanese imeprial nation and its first colony. Taking the settler-colonization of the Ainu land as the locus of analysis, the project explores the relation between the state’s drive for primitive accumulation and the construction and implementation of racial categories through linguistic, economic, and legal discourses. The project ultimately seeks to deepen our understanding of the history of Ainu experiences through the perspectives of global histories of empire, capitalism, and settler colonialism. Hirano is also co-editing a translation volume with Professor Gavin Walker, entitled The Archive of Revolution: Marxist Historiography in Modern Japan. This volume will be the first major introduction of the rich yet long neglected Japanese Marxist historiography that played the decisive role in the formation of critical social science in modern Japan from the late 1920s to the 1970s. Lastly, Hirano has been conducting a series of interviews with the people who have been involved in the anti-nuclear, pro-democracy, and environmental movements after the Fukushima nuclear disaster of March 11, 2011. Some interviews have been published in English in The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus (see the links in the selected publication section). 

Hirano received BA in political theory from Dōshisha University (Japan), MA in cultural studies/international studies from the University of Birmingham (UK), and Ph.D in history from the University of Chicago. He was a member of history department at Cornell University before joining UCLA in 2013. At UCLA, Hirano is affiliated with the Center for Social Theory and Comparative History, the Asia-Pacific Center, and the Luskin Center for History and Policy. Externally, Hirano serves on the editorial collective of positions : asia critique (Duke U Press) and the editorial board of Settler Colonial Studies (Taylor and Francis). He is also an editorial member of an online forum positions politics (http://positionswebsite.org) as well as MFE (Multifokaler Expansionismus, Japanese-Korean Language online journal). He co-organizes the annual workshop The Trans-Pacific Workshop with colleagues from the US and Japan. 


Distinguished Teaching Award (the Distinction in Teaching at the Graduate Level), UCLA, 2019 

Visiting Professor of Global Studies at Doshisha University, Japan, Fall 2015

Toyota Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan, 2008-2009

Selected Publications


The Politics of Dialogic Imagination: Power and Popular Culture in Early Modern Japan (Chicago: U of Chicago Press, Chicago Studies in Practices of Meaning series, 2013). The Japanese translation, Edo Yūmin no Jōran (『江戸遊民の擾乱』) by Tetsuya Motohashi, is forthcoming from Iwanami Shoten (岩波書店).  

Book manuscript in progress in both English and Japanese: Colonial Bare Life: Racism, Settler Colonialism and Primitive Accumulation in the Making of Modern "Ainu" 

Edited volume: The Archive of Revolution: Marxist Historiography in Modern Japan, 1930s-1980s. (co-edited with Gavin Walker) (under consideration).

Book Chapters and Articles

Online Journal: editor of COVID-19 Pandemic in positions politics (http://positionswebsite.org/episteme-2/) & author of "COVID-19, or the Rude Awakening of Biopolitical and Necropolitical Power under Capitalism?"  (http://positionswebsite.org/episteme-2-hirano/) (May, 2020)

Book Chapter: "主権と「天皇の赤子」ーアイヌの「救済」という人種差別の論理,"  上村静、関口寛、寺戸淳子編『差別の構造と国民国家――宗教と公共性――』法蔵館 ( "Sovereignty and 'Emperor's Children' - Saving Ainu as a Logic of Racial Discrimination" in Kamimura Shizuka, Skiguchi Hiroshi, Terado Junko eds., Structure of Discrimination and Nation-State: Religion and the Public, Hozo Publishing House, Kyoto Japan, forthcoming) (Invited)

Book Chapter: "근대의 차질과 계몽이라는 이야기 - 근세 ‘실학’의 해석을 중심으로" ("The Predicament of Modernity and Histories of the Tokugawa ‘Enlightenment’: On the Interpretations of Practical Learning") in 『일본자본주의의 정신사 』(The Intellectual History of Japanese Capitalism) 日本学国際比較研究所叢書 (Seoul: Hanyang University, 2020) (Invited)

Book Chapter: "遭遇としての植民地主義:北海道開拓における人種化と労働力の問題をめぐって” 成田龍一、田辺明生、竹沢泰子編『環太平洋地域の移動と人種』(京都大学出版界、2020)("Colonialism as Encounter: On Racialization and Labor Power in the Settler-Colonization of Hokkaido" in Ryuichi Narita, Akio Tanabe, and Yasuko Takezawa eds., Migration and Race in the Trans-Pacific Region, Kyoto University Press. 2020). (invited)

Journal Article: "Terra Nullius and the Modern Settler-Colonization of Ainu Mosir" in Tristan Grunow and Fuyubi Nakamura eds., Hokkaidō 150: Settler Colonialism and Indigeneity in Modern Japan and Beyond in Critical Asian Studies (London: Taylor and Francis, 2019) (refereed)

Book Chapter: “Regulating Excess: Cultural Politics of Consumption in Tokugawa Japan” in Giorgio Riello and Ulinka Rublack eds, The Right to Dress: Sumptuary Laws in a Global Perspective c. 1200-1800 (London: Cambridge University Press, 2019) (Invited)

Web Article (in Japanese): 「3.11を心に刻んで」(Remembering 3.11)in 岩波書店 (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, August 2018) https://tanemaki.iwanami.co.jp/posts/1093 (Invited). Republished in 『3.11を心に刻んで 2019』岩波書店編集部編 (Remembering 3.11, 2019  Iwanami Editorial Team, ed., Iwanami Shoten, 2019).

Journal Article (in Japanese): "「明治維新」を内破するヘテログロシア ー アイヌの経験と言葉” ("Heteroglossia and the Implosion of the 'Meiji Ishin' - Ainu's Experiences and Language") in 『現代思想 臨時増刊号  総特集 = 明治維新の光と影 -- 150年目の問い』 (Special Issue on The 150th Anniversary of the Meiji Ishin, Contemporary Thought(Tokyo: Seidosha 青土社, May 2018). (Invited) 

Online Article: “On the Reproduction of Race, Capitalism, and Settler-colonialism, Response 2” for Race and Capitalism: Global Territories, Transnational Histories, Center for Inequality and Democracy (LA: UCLA, April, 2018) (Invited) “Race and Capitalism: Global Territories, Transnational Histories” Digital Volume

Journal Article: co-authored with Lorenzo Veracini and Toulouse Roy, “Vanishing Natives and Taiwan’s Settler Colonial Unconsciousness” in Critical Asian Studies (London: Routledge, March 2018). (Refereed) 

Journal Article (in Japanese): “ヘーゲルの亡霊と民衆史のアポリア ー 安丸歴史学の認識論的前提の問題をめぐって” 『現代思想 臨時増刊号 安丸良夫特集ー民衆思想史とはなにか』("Hegelian Spector and Aporia of People’s History: On the Epistemological Premise of Yasumaru’s Historical Works" in Special Issue on Yoshio Yasumaru, Contemporary Thought  September Issue, Tokyo: Seidosha 青土社, 2016). (Invited) 

Book Chapter: “Settler Colonialism in the Making of Japan’s Hokkaidō” in Routledge Handbook of the History of Settler Colonialism edited by Ed Cavanagh and Lorenzo Veracini (London: Routledge, August 2016) 

Journal article (in Japanese): "アイヌ­ = 「滅びゆく民族」と生存への祈り- コロニアルな翻訳” in 『みすず no. 651』 (みすず書房 2016)(an expanded and revised version of “The Politics of Colonial Translation: On the Narrative of the Ainu as a “Vanishing Ethnicity”) in Misuzu no. 651  (Tokyo: Misuzu shobo, 2016) (refereed)

Journal article: "Thanatopolitics in the Making of Japan's Hokkaido: Settler Colonialism and Primitive Accumulation" in Critical Historical Studies vol. 2, no. 2 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015) (refereed).

Journal Article: "A Reflection on Uemura Takashi's Talk at UCLA" in Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus (Ithaca NY: April, 2015) (Invited) www.japanfocus.org/-Katsuya-Hirano/4363/article.html

Book chapter (in Japanese): "訳者あとがき - 帝国と"帝国"のゆくえ” 『アメリカ<帝国>の現在 - イデオロギーの守護者たち』(みすず書房 2014) (Afterword: The Future of Empire and “Empire” in Harry Harootunian, Empire's New Clothes, Tokyo: Misuzu Shobo, 2014)

Journal Article (in Japanese): "カルチュラル・スタディーズの汚らしさ - ステュアート・ホールの政治”思想 5月号』(岩波書店, 2014) ("Dirtiness of Cultural Studies - Stuart Hall's Politics"  in Special Issue on Stuart Hall in Shiso May Issue, Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten)(Invited)

Book chapter: “The Dialectic of Laughter and Tosaka’s Critical Theory” in Ken Kawashima and Robert Stolz eds., Tosaka Jun: A Critical Reader (Ithaca: Cornell East Asia Series, 2014) (invited)

 Journal article: “Politics and Poetics of the Body in Early Modern Japan” in Modern Intellectual History Vol. 8. Issue 3 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, November, 2011) (refereed)

 Journal article: “The Politics of Colonial Translation: On the Narrative of the Ainu as a “Vanishing Ethnicity”” in The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus (New York, 2009). (refereed). Reprinted in The Japanese Empire: Colonial Lives and Postcolonial Struggles, Kirsten Ziomek ed., Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Course Reader no. 8 (2013).  

 Journal article (in Japanese): “江戸の遊びと権力” 『みすず no.565』(みすず書房 2008)(On Play and Power in Late Tokugawa Edo) in Misuzu no.565(Tokyo: Misuzu Shobo, 2008)

Book chapter (in Japanese): “編訳者あとがき ― 現代の苦境を切り開く過去との対話” 『Doing 思想史』(みすず書房 2008) ("Afterword: Dialogue with the Past to Live Through the Predicament of Modernity" in Doing Intellectual History by Tetsuo Najita, Tokyo: Misuzu Shobo, 2008)

Book chapter: “Social Networks and Production of Public Discourse in Edo Popular Culture” in Elizabeth Lillehoj (ed.) Acquisition: Japanese Arts and Their Owners  (New York: Floating World Edition, 2007) 


Journal article: "As we saw him: Masao Miyoshi and the Vocation of Critical Struggle" (「我ら見しままに」:マサオ・ミヨシと批判的戦いという使命) by Harry Harootunian in Misuzu (みすず) no. 663 & 664 (Tokyo: Misuzu Shobo, みすず書房, 2017) 

Book: Translator of Empire’s New Clothes by Harry Harootunian (『アメリカ<帝国>の現在 - イデオロギーの守護者たち』Tokyo: Misuzu Shobo, みすず書房,  2014)

Book: Editor and translator of 『Doing 思想史』( Doing Intellectual History) by Tetsuo Najita (Tokyo: Misuzu Shobo, みすず書房 2008) 

Interviews on the 2011 Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

An Interview with Kamanaka Hitomi with Introduction by Katsuya Hirano Fukushima, Media, Democracy: The Promise of Documentary Film  The Asia-Pacific Journal, August 15, 2018

Interview with Baba Tamotsu  “Save the Town”: Insolvable Dilemmas of Fukushima’s “Return Policy” (“町残し”: 福島帰還政策の解決不可能なジレンマ) The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 16, Issue 3, No. 2 January 31, 2018

Interview with Yuichi Suzuki, "Reconstruction Disaster: The human implications of Japan’s forced return policy in Fukushima  (復興災害:福島の強制帰還が意味すること)" The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 15, Issue 7, No. 1. April 1 2017

Interview with Muto Ruiko, "We need to recognize this hopless scene.... To recognize that this horrible crime is what our country is doing to us," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 14, Issue 17, No 4. Semtember 1, 2016. Katsuya Hirano's Interview with Muto Ruiko

Interview with Koide Hiroaki (with Hirotaka Kasai), "The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster is a Serious Crime", The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 14, Issue 6, No. 1, March 15, 2016. “The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster is a Serious Crime”: Interview with Koide Hiroaki

Interview with Murakami Tatsuya, former mayor of Tōkaimura (Tōkai Village), "Fukushima and the Crisis of Democracy" The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 13, Issue 20, No. 1, May 25, 2015 ://japanfocus.org/-Katsuya-HIRANO/4320/article.html 


Interviews on Other Issues

Podcast Interview on Meiji Ishin by Professor Tristan Grunow (University of British Columbia) : https://meijiat150.podbean.com/e/episode-38-dr-katsuya-hirano-ucla/ (June, 2018)

Graduate Students

Toulouse Roy

Chul Namgung

Katherine Capuder

Sung-Eun Kim (co-chair)