Dr Christopher Gerteis

Key information

Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures Senior Lecturer in the History of Contemporary Japan Research Coordinator (term 1) Japan Research Centre Academic Staff, Japan Research Centre
BA (University of California, Santa Cruz); MA, PhD (University of Iowa)
Russell Square, College Buildings
Email address
Telephone number
+44 (0)20 7898 4093
Support hours
On leave (2019-2024)


Christopher Gerteis is an historian of Modern and Contemporary Japan, with particular interest in the history of class and gender. 

He is also Founding Series Editor of the scholarly monograph series SOAS Studies in Modern and Contemporary Japan, published in association with the UK publisher Bloomsbury. From 2019 to 2024 he is in residence as Academic Editor and Associate Professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, The University of Tokyo.

Dr Gerteis’ first book, Gender Struggles: Wage-earning Women and Male-Dominated Unions in Postwar Japan (Harvard, 2009), is an interdisciplinary study of the forgotten history of wage-earning Japanese women who during the 1950s militantly contested the socialist labor movement’s revival of many prewar notions of normative gender roles. By showing how unions raised the wages of male workers in part by transforming working-class women into middle-class housewives, Gender Struggles demonstrates that organized labor’s discourse on womanhood not only undermined women’s status within the labor movement but also prevented unions from linking with the emerging woman-led, neighborhood-centered organizations that typified social movements in the 1960s—a misstep that contributed to the decline of the socialist labor movement in subsequent decades.

His second book examines the forces that shaped the political consciousness of Japanese youth who chose to engage in political violence during the 1960s and 1970s. Mobilizing Japanese Youth: Propaganda, Politics and Power in the Cold War unpacks how notions of class and gender shaped the discourses produced by, and for, young men and women of the ‘Sixties Generation’. It argues in part that the intertwined political rhetoric on the far-left and far-right precipitated further levels of social alienation and helped to define the political consciousness of the ‘Sixties Generation’ well into the twenty-first century.

A third book project examines the impact of celebratory histories of industrialization formulated by multinational corporations in Japan. Manufacturing Memory: Marketing Modern Heritage in Contemporary East Asia investigates how corporate managers recast public memory of their companies’ support for Japanese imperialism through the acquisition of UNESCO World Heritage status for so-called ‘industrial heritage’ sites implicated in the use of forced laborers before and during World War II. The project is an examination of how managers and politicians have used UNESCO status to deflect the diplomatic blowback, and fiduciary risk, associated with public memory of the darker history of Imperial Japan.

Research interests

Dr Gerteis' research interests traverse the history of twentieth century Japan. He is currently working on two books. 'Angry, Young and Mobile', which he will be working on while in residence at Humboldt University of Berlin in 2015-2016, investigates the extent to which the advent of affordable airline travel influenced the radicalization of socially alienated middle-class youth in postwar Japan. The other book project he is working on, Manufacturing History, is a study of the ways in which for- and not-for-profit corporations in Japan have shaped popular longings for a reified past as a means to obfuscate less pleasant aspects of their institutional histories.

His published work includes: Gender Struggles: Wage-earning Women and Male Dominant Unions in Postwar Japan (Harvard, 2009), which examines the extent that customary notions of work, gender and ethnicity influenced the formation of the socialist labor movement in postwar Japan. He also co-edited, with Timothy S. George, Japan Since 1945: from Postwar to Post-Bubble (Bloomsbury, 2012) and is editor of Critical Readings on the History of Industrialization in Modern Japan (Brill, 2012).

Principal grants

  • 2015-2016 Research Fellowship, Work and Human Life Cycle in Global History Research Institute, Funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany.
  • 2013 Association for Asian Studies, North East Asia Council grant to support field research in Tokyo, Yokohama , and Nagoya, Japan. 
  • 2013 Japan Foundation Endowment Committee grant to support field research in Kyushu, Japan.
  • 2009-2012 Nippon Foundation Grant to support the SOAS Translation Initiative in Japanese Studies, which oversaw the translation and publication of four books and twenty journal articles while offering advanced post-graduate training in scholarly translation for the humanities and social sciences.
  • 2008-2009 Fulbright Faculty Research Grant, Senator J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, for nine months of field research in Japan.
  • 2005-2006 Postdoctoral Fellowship, Yale University, Council on East Asian Studies for one year in residence at the Yale University Council on East Asian Studies, New Haven, United States.
  • 2004-2005 Postdoctoral Fellowship, Harvard University, Reischauer Institute for Japanese Studies, Boston, United States.

Awards and honours

  • 2011 2nd Prize Book Award, European Association for Japanese Studies for Gender Struggles: Wage-earning Women and Male-Dominated Unions in Postwar Japan (Harvard University Asia Center, 2009). This is a tri-annual award selected from all books published in Japanese Studies between 2009 and 2011.

PhD Supervision

Name Title
Wonwoong Jeong The dissolution of a Cold-War alignment: Korea-Japan relations, 1969-1979
Ms Michiko Suzuki History of Disaster, Recovery, and Humanitarianism: The Japanese Red Cross Society in the Modern World, 1877-1945


Contact Christopher