Naoko Wake

Naoko WakeI am a historian of gender, sexuality, and medicine in the twentieth century United States and the Pacific Rim. I am intrigued by the ever-present tension between objectivity and subjectivity in medical theories and practices, and by the historically changing ways in which doctors, patients, and caregivers have grappled with such tension. I have written on the history of psychiatric and psychoanalytic approaches to homosexuality in my first book Private Practices: Harry Stack Sullivan, the Science of Homosexuality, and American Liberalism (Rutgers, 2011). My current research concerns Japanese American and Korean American survivors of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, tentatively titled Bombing Americans: Gender and Trans-Pacific Remembering after World War II. In this work, I am exploring racial, gender, and (cross-)national identities that emerged in Asia and Asian America in post-colonial contexts, and a range of grass-roots activism that took shape in response to the nuclear destruction–patient rights, civil rights, anti-war and -nuclear activism. I continue to be fascinated by personal experiences and memories of trauma, pain, and illness, and how they coexist and collide with social and cultural institutions. My co-authored book (with Shinpei Takeda) Hiroshima/Nagasaki Beyond the Ocean (Yururi Books, 2014), published in both English and Japanese, introduces oral histories that I and Shinpei have conducted with North American and South American survivors of the atomic bombings. I work with graduate students in the Asian American history, the history of gender and sexuality, medicine and science, and nuclear weaponry.

Selected articles

“Surviving the Bomb in America: Silent Memories and the Rise of Cross-national Identity,” Pacific Historical Review, 86(3) 2017: 472-506.

“Gender and Science in Hiroshima’s Aftermath: A Cross-cultural Approach,” Endeavor, 35(4) 2011: 178-186.

“The ‘American’ Psychoanalytic Hospital in the Making,” Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 17(5) 2009: 344-350.

“On Our Memory of Gay Sullivan: A Hidden Trajectory,” Journal of Homosexuality, 55(1) 2008: 150-165.

“The Military, Psychiatry, and ‘Unfit’ Soldiers, 1939-1942,” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 62(4) 2007: 461-494.

“The Full Story by No Means All Told: Harry Stack Sullivan at Sheppard-Pratt, 1922-1930,” History of Psychology, 9(4) 2006: 325-358.

“Kinsey’s Biographers: A Historiographical Reconnaissance” (coauthored with James H. Capshew, Matthew H. Adamson, Patricia A. Buchanan, and Narisara Murray), Journal of the History of Sexuality, 12(3) 2003: 465-486.

Awards and fellowships

  • Excellence in Diversity Award, Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives, MSU, 2015.
  • Science, Technology, & Society Grant, National Science Foundation (co-PI), 2014-15.
  • Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims Research Grant, 2012-13.
  • John K. Hudzik Award, International Studies and Program, MSU, 2012.
  • NEAC Research Grant, Association for Asian Studies, 2012.


  • HST890  History of Medicine, Gender, and Sexuality
  • HST850 Comparative History of Gender and Sexuality
  • HST454   Gender and the Making of American Minorities
  • HST420  History of Sexuality since 18th-century
  • WS/RCAH/LB304  Introduction to LGBTQ Studies
  • WS201 Introduction to Women’s Studies
  • LB324   Sex Changes: The History of Sexuality in Modern Science
  • LB492   “Queer” Science and Scientists in the U.S.
  • LB492  Health, Sex, and Feminism in the Trans-Pacific World

Position: Associate Professor

Field: 20th Century, Comparative, Cultural, Women & Gender, Science/Medicine

Region: United States, East Asia

Office: 306B Old Horticulture

Office Hours: On leave in 2015-16


Phone: (517) 884-4933

Book Cover Private Practices: Harry Stack Sullivan, the science of homosexuality and american liberalism

Book Cover Hiroshima Nagasaki Beyond the Ocean