Margaret Dorothea Mehl

Margaret Dorothea Mehl

Associate Professor


History and the State in Nineteenth-Century Japan:The World, the Nation and the Search for a Modern Past (Second Edition with New Preface).  Copenhagen: The Sound Book Press, 2017. (First published as, History and the State in Nineteenth-Century Japan. Basingstoke and London: Macmillan, 1998.)

  • How the Meiji government’s efforts to legitimate the emperor-centred nation state, indigenous traditions of scholarship and impulses from the West combined to shape the modern discipline of history in Japan.
  • Japanese translation: Rekishi to Kokka: 19 Seiki no Nashonaru Aidentiti to Gakumon. Tokyo: Tokyo University Press, 2017.『歴史と国家  - 19世紀日本のナショナル・アイデンティティと学問』マーガレット メール 著千葉 功 訳者代表松沢 裕作 訳者代表。東京大学出版会 2017年。

Not by Love Alone: The Violin in Japan, 1850-2010. Copenhagen: The Sound Book Press, 2014.

  • A cultural history of the violin in Japan in the historical context of Japan’s rapid modernization, nation- and empire-building, imperialistic expansion and war, defeat, recovery, and rising global presence and its sense of crisis at the turn of the millennium.

Private Academies of Chinese Learning in Meiji Japan: The Decline and Transformation of the Kangaku Juku.Copenhagen: NIAS Press, 2003. Paperback edition 2005.

  • An investigation into the fate of a traditional educational institution during the years when the modern, Western-style education system was introduced and took root.


2005 Dr. Phil. (equivalent to German Habilitation), University of Copenhagen
1991 Dr. Phil. (Ph.D.), University of Bonn (Japanese Studies with History)
1987 M.A., University of Bonn (Japanese Studies with History)

Previous Appointments

2000 (Summer Semester) Guest Professor, Free University of Berlin
1995 to 2000 Lecturer in Japanese Studies, University of Stirling
1994 to 1995 Japan Foundation Lecturer in Japanese Studies, University of Edinburgh
1991 to 1993 Yasuda Trust and Banking Fellow in the Faculty of Oriental Studies,University of Cambridge

Most Recent Fellowships and Research Grants

2013 Japan Foundation fellowship; guest researcher, Waseda University

2009 Edward T. Cone Member in Music Studies, School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

2007 Rektorkollegiet (Danish Universities’ Rectors’ Conference) and JSPS (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science); guest researcher, Waseda University

2003 Rektorkollegiet (Danish Universities’ Rectors’ Conference) and JSPS; guest researcher, Waseda University

1999 Canon Foundation Europe; guest researcher, Waseda University

Membership of Formal International Research Networks

Founding Member of Society for Cultural Interaction in East Asia (Based at Kansai University, Japan), 2009
BAJS (British Association of Japanese Studies)
OAG (Gesellschaft für Natur- und Völkerkunde Ostasiens)
GJF (Gesellschaft für Japanforschung)
EAJS (European Association of Japanese Studies)




Primary fields of research

  • History and culture of Japan in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in a global context
  • Musical culture in nineteenth- and early twentieth century Japan
  • Japan’s relations with other countries in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, especially China and Germany
  • History of education in Japan
  • History as an academic discipline, historiography in Japan in comparative perspective
    Biography and the intersection between individual lives and historical circumstances, including the role of personal relationships in international relations; individual responses in times of discontinuous change (such as the Meiji period, 1868-1912)
  • History and memory and the role of heroes for individuals and groups.

Current research

(1) Completing book, 

Music and the Making of Modern Japan: Joining the Global Concert

(2) Writing article, provisionally entitled, 'Taming Dance in Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Japan: from bon-dance prohibitions to "home dancing"

(3) Planning contribution to an international collective project on music-related contents-tourism (with a research project relating to music and commemoration)


• History and culture of Japan from the beginnings to the present day
• History of Japan from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century in an East Asian and global context
• History of Japanese studies
• Theories and methods of Japanese studies, area studies and of the humanities in general
• Reading Japanese texts (especially non-fiction)

ID: 6629