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Hiro Saito, PhD University of Michigan 2009
Assistant Professor
Office Location: Saunders 206
Phone Number: 956-7152
Fax Number: 956-3707


I grew up in a small town in central Japan and attended public schools before going to International Christian University (Tokyo) and Haverford College (Pennsylvania). As an undergrad I studied philosophy and sociology. In August 2009, I received a PhD in sociology from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and started as an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. I am also a faculty member of the Center for Japanese Studies.

During the 2013-14 academic year, I am affiliated with Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University as a postdoctoral fellow in the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations. I am also participating in the Mansfield Foundation's Next Generation Japan Leadership Program.


I teach theory mostly. I train students to think not only as theory critics but also as theorists. In addition to undergraduate and graduate courses on theory, I teach globalization, education, and collective memory. Since I attended liberal colleges as an undergraduate student, my primary goal as a teacher is to provide my own students with intense learning experiences through which they can push themselves and grow intellectually.

Course Syllabi:


I would be always happy to collaborate with graduate students who are interested in culture, politics, networks, cosmopolitanism, or East Asia.

In addition to my research as a sociologist, I work with educators and teachers in Japan to make social studies more cosmopolitan and problem-solving-oriented. I also volunteer for Friends of the Earth Japan to help their effort to create a more ecologically sustainable society.


As a culturally-oriented political sociologist, I research how interactions between the state and civil society shape public policies by focusing on the role of experts. Currently, I am working on two research projects.

My first project examines the so-called "history problem" in East Asia, a set of controversies over how the Japanese government should commemorate its past aggression and wartime atrocities. By using historical data on interactions among NGOs, professional historians (experts), and governments of Japan, China, and South Korea, this project investigates how Japan's official commemoration evolved from 1945 through 2013. I recently completed a book manuscript on this topic, entitled "The History Problem: Nationalism, Cosmopolitanism, and Reconciliation in East Asia." My argument is that the history problem resulted from a collision of nationalist commemorations in the three countries and, over the last few decades, cosmopolitan commemoration emerged within growing transnational networks, opening up a potential path to reconciliation.

My second research project looks at the Japanese government's policy response to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident. By drawing on textual and ethnographic data, this project aims to examine how expertise structures interaction between the Japanese government and the anti-nuclear movement. My preliminary finding is that the government-movement interaction exhibits different degrees of public consultation across different policy domains, depending on (1) which type of expertise is mobilized in a given policy domain, and (2) which logic of justification is dominant that defines the very relevance and role of experts vis-à-vis citizens in policymaking. In the near future, I plan to complete a book manuscript on this topic, tentatively entitled "Experts and Citizens: Rethinking Democracy in Post-Fukushima Japan."


Theory; Cultural and Political Sociology; Cosmopolitanism; Collective Memory and International Relations; Education and Globalization; Science, Technology, and Democracy; Japan and East Asia


Title: Reiterated Commemoration: Hiroshima as National Trauma (PDF) (2006)
Publication Information: Sociological Theory 24 (4): 353-376

Title: Competing Logics of Commemoration: Cosmopolitanism and Nationalism in East Asia’s History Problem (PDF) (2014)
Co Authors: Yoko Wang
Publication Information: Sociological Perspectives 57(2): 167-85

Title: Historians as Rooted Cosmopolitans: Their Potentials and Limitations (2014)
Publication Information: Global Networks (forthcoming)

Title: From Collective Memory to Commemoration (2010)
Publication Information: Pp. 619-628 in The Handbook of Cultural Sociology, edited by J. R. Hall, L. Grindstaff, & M.-C. Lo. New York: Routledge

Title: Actor-Network Theory of Cosmopolitan Education (PDF) (2010)
Publication Information: The Journal of Curriculum Studies 42 (3): 333-351

Title: East Asia and Cosmopolitan Memory (2014)
Publication Information: Routledge Handbook of Memory and Reconciliation in East Asia, edited by Mikyoung Kim. London: Routledge

Title: Cosmopolitics: Toward a New Articulation of Politics, Science, and Critique (2014)
Publication Information: British Journal of Sociology (forthcoming)

Title: An Actor-Network Theory of Cosmopolitanism (PDF) (2011)
Publication Information: Sociological Theory 29 (2): 124-49

Title: Cosmopolitan Nation-Building: The Institutional Contradiction and Politics of Postwar Japanese Education (PDF) (2011)
Publication Information: Social Science Japan Journal 14 (2): 125-44

Title: Cosmopolitanism as Cultural Capital: Exploring the Intersection of Globalization, Education, and Stratification (PDF) (2014)
Co Authors: Hiroki Igarashi (equal authorship)
Publication Information: Cultural Sociology (forthcoming)

Honors / Awards:

Postdoctoral Fellowship, Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University (2013)

Certificate of Teaching Excellence (2014)
Description: Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning and the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Education, Harvard University

Best Graduate Student Paper Award, Culture Section, American Sociological Association (2007)

Best Graduate Student Paper Award, Political Sociology Section, American Sociological Association (2007)

Outstanding Graduate Student Mentor Award, Department of Sociology, University of Michigan (2009)

Phi Kappa Phi, University of Michigan (2009)

Social Science Research Council-Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellowship (2011)

Member, Mansfield Foundation Next Generation Japan Leadership Network (2013)


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