Passing of Prof. Shigeru Nakayama, Terasaki Chair in US-Japan Relations, 2008-09

Passing of Prof. Shigeru Nakayama, Terasaki Chair in US-Japan Relations, 2008-09

Shigeru Nakayama, 5th Terasaki Chair in US-Japan Relations, 2008. Photo by Lorena Olvera

Regretfully, we inform you that Prof. Shigeru Nakayama, Professor Emeritus, University of Tokyo, died in Tokyo on Saturday 10 May 2014.

At UCLA we were honored with his visit during 2008-09 as the Terasaki Chair in US-Japan Relations. During that year he engaged wonderfully with many colleagues at UCLA and in southern California. He was crucial in organizing the provocative and influential 2009 workshop with Aaron Moore (Terasaki Post-doctoral Fellow 08-09 and now Associate Professor, Arizona State University), Michiko Takeuchi (UCLA PhD and now Assistant Professor, CSU Long Beach), and me on “Dis-continuities: Nation-State Formation in Japan with Science, Technology, and Medicine during Imperialism, War, Occupation, and Peace, 1932-1962,” as well as working closely with Hiromi Mizuno (UCLA PhD and now Associate Professor, University of Minnesota) on the publications that followed. During his time at UCLA he strongly encouraged several young scholars to pursue their innovative work, as well as inspiring them to develop new ways to build scholarly communities, such as the Forum for the History of Science in Asia.

Throughout his career he inspired with his creative and challenging work. He not only stayed abreast of changing debates and research approaches; in many cases he initiated those changes. A student of Thomas S. Kuhn at Harvard, he provoked Kuhn’s famous Postscript in his second edition of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions; he then translated the book into Japanese. In Nakayama’s work on East Asian astronomy he engaged with the prevailing Needham interpretations. Later he focused on the intellectual significance of infrastructures for knowledge making when many in the field still separated the history of ideas, people, and their resources. He launched a collaborative project on the social history of science in contemporary Japan when few attended to post-WWII topics or the social history of ideas. While at UCLA he attended not only to science colonialism and nationalism, but also began revising his earlier work on Hideyo Noguchi, who discovered Treponema pallidum, the agent of syphilis, in 1911. Prof. Nakayama took great pleasure in becoming “a digital historian” at UCLA under the tutelage of Bill Marotti, and was delighted to discover the scholarly resources available to him from the world’s libraries via the internet. He was very pleased that UCLA continued to offer him those links after his tenure as the Terasaki Chair ended.

A prolific scholar, Prof. Nakayama also launched the careers of many historians of science in Japan and continuously built important new resources for scholarship in studies of science, technology, and society (STS), including new programs and funding sources. He also built and sustained over many decades an international network of scholars in studies of East Asian science, technology, and medicine. Until recently he maintained his circuits throughout the scholarly world, including sustained visits to Australia, Austria, China, England, Germany, and the US. He remains an exemplar for us all, as does Mrs. Nakayama for her gracious and thoughtful discussions, encouragement, and hospitality.

--Sharon Traweek; Associate Professor, Gender Studies and History, UCLA

Links about Prof. Shigeru:
Bibliography - Prof. Shigeru Nakayama 
Announcement, Asahi Shimbun, 13 May 2014
More Information about Prof. Shigeru Nakayama and his work:
Shigeru Nakayama & Hiromi Mizuno, editors, "Science and Nationalism" Special Issue of East Asian STS (EASTS). Volume 6, Number 1, March 2012 (Duke University Press)  
Terasaki Center Newsletter article 3 Oct 2008 about Prof. Nakayama  

Published: Tuesday, May 13, 2014