Erik Ropers

Associate Professor and Director of Asian Studies


Contact Info



Ph.D., The University of Melbourne, 2012

Areas of Expertise

Modern Japan (wartime Japan, forced labor), memory, cultural history, visual cultures, human rights

Erik Ropers is a historian of modern Japan, having joined the History Department in 2012 after completing a Ph.D. in History at the University of Melbourne. His first book, Voices of the Korean Minority in Postwar Japan, examines the ways in which Japanese-language scholars have understood and represented colonial Koreans subject to enforced labor and enforced military prostitution, as well as Korean victims of the atomic bombings. Current research projects include a book manuscript looking at visual representations of wartime Japan in print culture drawing on past research, and a second book manuscript examining the legal history of the Hanaoka Incident, its appearance at the Yokohama War Crimes Tribunal, and concomitant local memories in rural Akita Prefecture.

Beyond these projects, Dr. Ropers' research focuses broadly on the social and cultural history of twentieth-century Japan. Some of his other recent work has examined how Japanese wartime experiences have been visually and narratively represented in Japanese comics (manga), art, and literature, Japanese historical debates in the nineteen-nineties, and human rights issues stemming from Japan’s war in Asia. His teaching covers the Department’s introductory survey courses in East Asian history (premodern and modern), human rights, and Asian Studies; a research seminar focused on wartime memory and violence in Asia, and advanced courses in Japanese history from the age of the samurai to the twentieth century. Dr. Ropers also serves on the executive board for the Mid-Atlantic Region Association for Asian Studies.


Voices of the Korean Minority in Postwar Japan (Routledge, 2019).

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).

Selected Peer-Reviewed Articles & Chapters

“The Hanaoka Incident and Practices of Local History and Memory Making in Northern Japan.” In: Matilda Keynes et al., eds., Historical Justice and History Education (Palgrave: 2021): 87-106.

“Yū Miri’s Country of Masks and the Debates About Japan’s Wartime Past,” Southeast Review of Asian Studies 39 (2017), 63-83.

"Debating History and Memory: Examining the Controversy Surrounding Iris Chang's The Rape of Nanking," Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights 8, no. 1 (2017): 77-99.

“Shōgen, torauma, geijutsu: sensō to sengo no katari no shūgō-tekina bunseki.” In: Yoshii Hiroaki, ed., Sensō shakaigaku, Meguro Akane, trans. (Tokyo: Akashi shoten, 2016).  (English title: “Testimony, Trauma, and Art: Collaborative Approaches to Narrating War and its Aftermath.”)

Selected Lectures and Presentations

"Shōjo manga and Representations of War in 1970s Japan," Mid-Atlantic Region Association for Asian Studies, Dickinson College.

"The Hanaoka Incident and Practices of Local History and Memory Making in Northern Japan," Historical Justice and History Education Symposium, Umeå University, Sweden

"'We Never Complain Against Your Fair and Just Decision:' The Chusan Labor Camp Trial and Contested Justice at the Yokohama War Crimes Tribunal," Mid-Atlantic Region Association for Asian Studies, Elizabethtown College