Emer O’Dwyer

  • Associate Professor of History and East Asian Studies
  • Director of East Asian Studies


  • PhD, Harvard University, 2007
  • MA, Harvard University, 2003
  • AB, Harvard College, 1997


Emer O’Dwyer is director of the East Asian Studies Program and associate professor of history and East Asian studies. She specializes in 20th-century Japanese history with research interests in imperialism, democracy, and the postwar Allied Occupation. 

O’Dwyer is the author of Significant Soil: Settler Colonialism and Japan’s Urban Empire in Manchuria , (Harvard University Press, East Asian Monographs Series, 2015) and has work published in Modern Asian Studies, the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Asian History, Roman Rosenbaum, ed. Manga and the Representation of Japanese History, as well as in blog posts for the Library of Congress and Global Urban History.

Her research has been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship in Humanistic Studies, Fulbright Foundation, Japan Foundation, Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, Nathan and Jeanette Miller Center for Historical Studies and the University of Maryland Libraries, and the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies at Harvard, among others.

She is a member of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation U.S.-Japan Network for the Future, Cohort III (2014-2016).

O’Dwyer serves on the Executive Committee of the Associated Kyoto Program, a consortium-based study away program of which Oberlin is a founding member.

Teaching Interests
Japanese history, especially 20th century political and social history.

Research Interests
Imperialism, Urban and Social History; the Experience of Defeat in WWII.

Spring 2024

Modern Japan — EAST 132
Modern Japan — HIST 160
Discrimination in Modern Japan — EAST 332
Discrimination in Modern Japan — HIST 482
Capstone Project — EAST 500

Fall 2024

Japan: Earliest Times to 1868 — EAST 131
Japan: Earliest Times to 1868 — HIST 159
Occupied Japan, 1945-1952 — EAST 307
Occupied Japan, 1945-1952 — HIST 307
Capstone Project — EAST 500


Emer O'Dwyer Gives Talk at Stanford University

November 7, 2017

Emer O'Dwyer, associate professor of East Asian studies and history, gave a talk entitled, "The Case of the Headless Miner and the Pursuit of Justice in Transwar Japan, 1944-55" on October 20 at Stanford University.