Associate Professor of History at MSU Dr. Ethan Segal delivers keynote address to Japan Studies Association

By: Patti McDonald

Dr. Ethan Segal, an Associate Professor of history at Michigan State University, recently was the keynote speaker at the Japan Studies Association’s 30th annual conference in Honolulu, Hawaii. His presentation, “Can Samurai Teach Critical Thinking? Using Myth and History in the Classroom,” provided an overview of the role of samurai in Japanese history while challenging many popular misconceptions about them. He also offered examples of how using primary sources from samurai themselves can help get students to think critically about the past. 

Segal is the author of Coins, Trade, and the State: Economic Growth in Early Medieval Japan (2011) as well as a variety of articles and book chapters. His topics of research include economic history, women and gender, and depictions of Japanese history in media. His research has been supported by grants, including a Fulbright Fellowship that allowed him to conduct research in Tokyo last year. Segal also serves as the Chairperson of the Japan Council at MSU. 

For more information, visit the conference website: 

Segal, on a research trip in 2022, standing in front of the remains of the defensive stone wall that Japanese samurai built in the late 13th century to defend against Mongol invaders.