Sheldon Garon

Nissan Professor of History and East Asian Studies, Princeton University

Sheldon Garon is the Nissan Professor of History and East Asian Studies at Princeton University. Garon studies modern and contemporary Japan, with research interests in relationships between state and society, the links between culture and popular economic behavior, and locating Japan within a global or transnational history of ideas and institutions. Born and raised in northern Minnesota, he graduated from the University of Minnesota (1973) and went on to receive a master’s degree in East Asian Studies from Harvard (1975) and a Ph.D. in history from Yale (1981).

In his first book, The State and Labor in Modern Japan (1987), Garon uses the labour movement in Japan as a lens to examine the country’s rapid transition, beginning in the late 19th century, from oligarchic rule to interwar democracy, wartime fascism, and the present postwar order. In Molding Japanese Minds: The State in Everyday Life (1997), Garon analyzes the modern Japanese state’s remarkable success at mobilising its people to act in the interests of prosperity and stability, for instance by holding down welfare costs, saving significant portions of their incomes, and helping to curb religious “cults.” The book offers new historical explanations for Japan’s postwar “economic miracle” and the nation’s current reluctance to embrace American-style deregulation and consumerism. Professor Garon frequently comments in the media on contemporary developments in political economy. He is a member of both the History Department and the East Asian Studies Department.

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