RIT Professor’s Book Published in Japanese Translation

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Rochester Institute of Technology professor Joseph Henning’s book, Outposts of Civilization: Race, Religion and the Formative Years of American-Japanese Relations (New York University Press), has just been translated and published in Japanese.

An associate professor of history in the College of Liberal Arts, Henning won the Stuart L. Bernath Book Prize, awarded by the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, when Outposts of Civilization was first published in English. It received favorable reviews in the American Historical Review, the Journal of Asian Studies, Diplomatic History and the Japan Times.

In the book, Henning reveals how many 19th century Americans grappled with the challenge that newly powerful Meiji Japan (1868-1912) posed to their belief in white, Christian superiority. Rather than abandon this conviction, some of those most familiar with Japan—missionaries, scholars and journalists—unsuccessfully attempted to convince other Americans that the Japanese were a white race and Christian at heart.

“Professor Henning’s book helps scholars of diplomatic history understand the vital importance that culture has in international relations,” says Mamoru Sorai, an associate professor of Japanese political history in Tohoku University’s Graduate School of Law and the book’s translator.

“The translation is especially significant to ordinary Japanese people: full of examples familiar to them, the book sheds new light on the complexities of one aspect of human behavior—defining others and ourselves—and how violent it sometimes can be.”

Henning first became interested in American-Japanese relations during his undergraduate study at Colorado College. He spent his junior year studying in Japan, living in Tokyo during the academic year and working on a dairy farm during the summer. He returned to Japan for a year in 2002 on a Fulbright scholarship to Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan.

Henning holds a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University and a doctorate in history from American University. He taught at Saint Vincent College in Pennsylvania before joining RIT in 2004, where he teaches courses on the history of U.S. foreign relations.

The Japanese publisher, Misuzu Shobo (Tokyo), has also issued translations by noted scholars Hannah Arendt, Noam Chomsky, Bertrand Russell and Edward Said.

To talk to Joseph Henning, please contact Susan Gawlowicz at 585-475-5061 or smguns@rit.edu.