Erik Ropers joined the History Department in 2012 after completing a PhD in history at the University of Melbourne. His dissertation, “Mutable History: Japanese Language Historiographies of Korean Enforced Labor and Enforced Military Prostitution, 1965-2008” examines the ways in which Japanese scholars have understood and represented the enforced labor and enforced military prostitution of colonial Koreans during the height of the Asia-Pacific War. He is currently expanding this work into a book about Japanese postwar historical writing on these subjects which, particularly for the case of enforced laborers, addresses a lack of prior engagement by English-language scholars.
In addition to this work, his research broadly focuses on the social and cultural history of twentieth-century Japan. Some of his other recent projects have examined how Japanese wartime experiences have been visually and narratively represented in Japanese comics (manga), and how Japanese soldiers’ wartime experiences and traumas on the battlefield are represented in postwar film.
Written Into History: Celebrating Fifty Years of the Melbourne Historical Journal, 1961-2011 (co-edited with Keir Wotherspoon), Parkville: The Melbourne Historical Journal Collective, 2012.
“Representations of Gendered Violence in Manga: The Case of Enforced Military Prostitution,” Japanese Studies 31 (2011): 249-266. Revised and expanded version in Roman Rosenbaum, ed., Manga and the Representation of Japanese History (London: Routledge, 2012).
“Historical Narrative and the Misrepresentation of Wartime Labor in Kenkanryū,” Forum for World Literature Studies 3 (2011): 70-79.
“Testimonies as Evidence in the History of kyōsei renkō,” Japanese Studies 30 (2010): 263-282.
Recent Lectures and Presentations
“Making Sense Of It All: Understandings of War in Japanese Film, 1945-1974,” UCLA, Los Angeles
“Representations of Gendered Violence in Manga,” Japanese Studies Association of Australia Biennial Conference, Melbourne, Australia
“The Role of Historical Narratives in Fostering Human Rights Awareness,” Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference, Honolulu, USA
“Representing Trauma in Kobayashi Masaki’s ‘The Human Condition’,” Modern Language Association Annual Convention, Los Angeles, USA
Recent Book Reviews
Brian Yecies and Ae-Gyung Shim, “Korea’s Occuped Cinemas, 1893-1948.” In Melbourne Historical Journal 40. Forthcoming.
David Stahl and Mark Williams, eds. “Imag(in)ing the War in Japan: Representing and Responding to Trauma in Postwar Literature and Film.” In Melbourne Historical Journal 40. Forthcoming.
Mark Driscoll, “Absolute Erotic, Absolute Grotesque: The Living, Dead, and Undead in Japan’s Imperialism, 1895–1945.” In Journal of Social Transformation. Online. forthcoming.
Michael Lucken et al., eds., “Japan’s Postwar,” J.A.A. Stockwin, trans. In Japanese Studies 32(2).
Awards and Honors
UCLA Terasaki Research Grant, 2012
National Library of Australia Japan Grant, 2009
University of Melbourne International Research Scholarship, 2008-2012