Department of History



Erik Ropers

Assistant Professor of History

PhD University of Melbourne, 2012

Office:   Office: LA-4241
Phone:   410-704-3709
Fax:   410-704-5595

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. He is also engaged in a project studying popular representations of Japanese women gangsters (yakuza).

Selected Publications

  • "Life on the Front Lines: Testimonies By Two Japanese ‘Comfort Women’," translation of sourses and critical introduction, available online at Writing the War in Asia (2014).
  • 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

  • "Bad Gangster Girls: Women and the Yakuza in manga," Mid-Atlantic Region Association for Asian Studies, University of Delaware
  • "Making Sense of It All: Understandings of War in Japanese Film, 1945-1974," Association for Asian Studies Conference, Philadelphia, PA
  • "The Emergence of zainichi Korean hibakusha Writings and Testimonies," Asian Studies Association of Australia Conference, Perth, Australia

Recent Book Reviews

  • Mark Driscoll, “Absolute Erotic, Absolute Grotesque: The Living, Dead, and Undead in Japan’s Imperialism, 1895–1945.” In Journal of Social Transformation 1(1), 147-150.
  • Michael Lucken et al., eds., “Japan’s Postwar,” J.A.A. Stockwin, trans. In Japanese Studies 32(2).

Awards and Honors

  • University of Western Australia USAsia Centre Grant, 2014.
  • UCLA Terasaki Research Grant, 2012
  • National Library of Australia Japan Grant, 2009

Courses Taught

Spring 2015
Summer 2015
HIST 111: East Asian Civilization from the 19th c. HIST 355: History of Japanese Cinema
HIST 300: Introduction to Historical Study  
HIST 320: Japan, 1930 to the Present  








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