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Michael Laver

Associate Dean
Dean’s Office
College of Liberal Arts

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Michael Laver

Associate Dean
Dean’s Office
College of Liberal Arts


BA, Purdue University; MA, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania


Research Interests: History of East Asia; Early Modern History; History of Japan; History of Christianity; History of Baseball

Michael Laver’s research interests are diverse and wide-ranging, although to date he has published mainly in the field of early modern Japan. His first book, Japan’s Economy by Proxy, details Japanese trade with the wider early modern world as facilitated mainly by Dutch, Chinese, and Portuguese merchants. His second book, The Sakoku Edicts and the Politics of Tokugawa Hegemony, argues that the several strictures the Tokugawa shogun put on trade with Japan, as well as on foreign influences in Japan, was primarily an attempt to bolster domestic power within the Japanese islands. His most recent book, The Dutch East India Company and Japan will be published by Bloomsbury Press in the autumn of 2019 and deals with the exotic gifts given to Japanese officials by the Dutch India Company and how those gifts were used by both the Japanese and the Dutch.  Professor Laver has taught courses on modern and premodern Japan and China, modern East Asia, global Christianity, and baseball.

Professor Laver serves as the Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and is responsible for the curriculum, strategic planning, international education, and interdisciplinary programming.  He has previously served as the chair of the Department of History as well as the program director of the International and Global Studies Program. He has also served in a number of other capacities at RIT, including as Chair of Academic Senate and as co-chair of the Middle States Re-accreditation Process.

Professor Laver earned his B.A. in History and Psychology at Purdue University and Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania. He also holds a Masters of Divinity from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School and serves as rector of Saint John's Episcopal Church in Sodus, New York in the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester. 


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Currently Teaching

3 Credits
The 20th century has sometimes been called the Pacific Century, which is ironic since this period of time has been anything but pacific! The twentieth century saw the rise of four great pacific powers; the U.S., Japan, China, and the Soviet Union, and saw the eclipse of several others, including the British and French Empires. Furthermore a major front of the Cold War was played out on the Asian continent, namely the Korean and Vietnam wars, as well as the U.S. standoff with Communist China. And of course the Second World War, the greatest concentrated period of human destruction, played out at the midpoint of the twentieth century. This class will analyze these conflicts both as conflicts in and of themselves, but will also look at the backdrop against which these conflicts were played out. Beginning with the subjugation of China in the 19th century, our class will examine the many conflicts that defined this region through the end of the twentieth century.

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Journal Paper
Laver, Michael. "Seeing History in New Ways: Woodblock Prints and the Historical Imagination." World History Connected. October (2018): N/A. Web.
Laver, Michael. "Most Exquisite Curiosities of Nature and Art: The Dutch East India Company, Objets d’Art and Gift Giving in Early Modern Japan." World History Connected 10:2. June, 2013 (2013): N/A. Web.
Laver, Michael. "Butter Diplomacy: Food and Drink as a Social Lubricant in Dutch East India Company Trade with Japan." Education About Asia. Spring (2012): 5-8. Print.
Laver, Michael. "Skins in the Game: The Dutch East India Company, Deerskins, and the Japan Trade." World History Bulletin 28:2. Fall (2012): 13-16. Print.
Published Review
Laver, Michael. Rev. of Government by Mourning: Death and Political Integration in Japan, 1603-1912, by Atsuko Hirai. The Journal of Japanese Studies Dec. 2018: 195-199. Print.
Laver, Michael. Rev. of Matteo Ricci and the Catholic Mission to China: A Short History with Documents, by R. Po-chia Hsia. Education About Asia Sep. 2017: N/A. Print.
Laver, Michael. Rev. of Pioneers to Partners: The Reformed Church in America and Christian Mission with the Japanese, by Gordon Laman. Itinerario 2013: N/A. Print.
Laver, Michael. Rev. of Books and boats: Sino-Japanese Relations in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, by Osama Oba (translated by Joshua Fogel). The Journal of Asian Studies 2013: N/A. Print.
Laver, Michael. Rev. of The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity, by Robert Wilkin. Canadian Journal of History 2013: N/A. Print.
Laver, Michael. Rev. of Coins, Trade, and the State: Economic Growth in Early Medieval Japan, by Ethan Segal. Journal of World History Dec. 2012: N/A. Print.
Laver, Michael. Rev. of The Limits of Empire: European Imperial Formations in Early Modern World History. Essays in Honor of Geoffrey Parker, ed. Tonio Andrade and William Reger. World History Connected 2012: N/A. Web.
Laver, Michael. Rev. of The Traveler’s World: Europe to the Pacific, by Harry Liebersohn. Canadian Journal of History 2011: N/A. Print.
Invited Article/Publication
Laver, Michael. "Introduction: The Sea in World History." World History Bulletin. (2016). Web.
Book Chapter
Laver, Michael. "Neither Here nor There: Trade, Piracy, and the ‘Space Between’ in Early Modern East Asia”." Sea Rovers, Silk, and Samurai: Maritime East Asia in World History 1500-1750. Ed. Tonio Andrade and Xing Hang. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai\'i PRess, 2016. N/A. Print.
Laver, Michael. "A Whole New World Order." Japan Emerges: Introductory Essays on Premodern History. Ed. Karl Friday. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2012. N/A. Print.
Laver, Michael. "Diplomacy, Piracy, and the Space Between." Japan Emerges: Introductory Essays on Premodern History. Ed. Karl Friday. Boulder, C: Westview Press, 2012. N/A. Print.
Laver, Michael. "VThe Trade Federation, the East India Companies, and Chaotic Worlds of Trade." Star Wars and History. Ed. Nancy Reagin and Janice Liedl. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons, 2012. N/A. Print.
Full Length Book
Laver, Michael. The Sakoku Edicts and the Politics of Tokugawa Hegemony. Amherst, NY: Cambria Press, 2011. Print.
Laver, Michael. Japan’s Economy by Proxy in the Seventeenth Century: China, The Netherlands, and the Bakufu. Amherst, NY: Cambria Press, 2008. Print.
Formal Presentation
Laver, Michael. “Through a Glass Darkly: Christianity and the Politics of Control in Tokugawa Japan.” Sustainable Asia: Challenges and Opportunities. 38th Annual Mid-Atlantic Region Association for Asian Studies Conference. State College, PA. 23 Oct. 2010. Presentation.
Laver, Michael. “Gift-giving and the Politics of Legitimacy in Tokugawa Japan.” 59th Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs. Columbus, OH. 30 Oct. 2010. Presentation.