Dissertation Completion Fellow
Jonas Rüegg is a Dissertation Completion Fellow and Ph.D. candidate in History and East Asian Languages. As a historian of Japan’s turbulent 19th century, Jonas explores ways to understand the archipelago's modern history as embedded in the fluid environment of the Pacific world.
His dissertation on “The Kuroshio Frontier: Business, State, and Environment in the Making of the Japanese Empire” is a maritime history that examines the cultural and economic transitions that accompanied Japan’s expansion to the Pacific in the nineteenth century. The Tokugawa shogunate’s colonization of the Ogasawara or “Bonin” Islands in the 1860s, on which he has published in Cross-Currents in 2017, was a turning point in the way Japanese leaders positioned themselves within the fluid geopolitics of the Pacific World in the mid-century. A more theoretical piece, “Currents and Oceanic Geographies of Japan’s Unending Frontier,” published in The Journal of Pacific History in 2021, locates the cultural and economic transformations of Japan’s pivot to the Pacific on a longer trajectory that carries through to the deep sea explorations of the twenty-first century. Jonas has also published in English, Japanese, and German on book history, history of science, 19th century Orientalism, as well as the cultural history of the Romansh language of Switzerland.
Originally from Switzerland, he earned his B.A. from the University of Zurich before moving to the United States to pursue graduate studies, first in Harvard’s Regional Studies – East Asia M.A. program and later in the History and East Asian Languages Ph.D. program.