Claire Cooper

Japanese History
Email Address:
  • A.M. in Regional Studies East Asia from Harvard University
  • B.A. in Japanese Studies from Georgetown University

Claire Cooper is a Ph.D candidate specializing in early modern Japanese history. Her research focuses on global trade, the commodification of imported goods, and the ideas that traveled alongside them.  Generally, she seeks to broaden and complicate the concept of “Dutch” in early modern Japan by demonstrating the many ways in which the term was reflective not of a European country but rather the Indian Ocean network maintained by first the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and later the Dutch East Indian government.

 Her dissertation, entitled “Dutch formulations and family secrets: Medicine and the marketplace in early modern Japan,” explores the global trade in medicines conducted by the VOC and Dutch East Indian government, and how these products were adapted, compounded, and consumed by people in eighteenth and nineteenth century Japan. By analyzing a variety of textual, visual, and material sources related to apothecaries and commercial medicines, she demonstrates how certain types of imported goods and ideas became accessible to a wider Japanese public beyond elite scholars and government officials, as well as emphasizes the importance of medicine and medicinal substances in broader discussions of rangaku and honzōgaku.

In addition to her Masters and Bachelor degrees, Claire has also completed language programs in modern and classical Japanese at Keio University and Doshisha University, and in early modern and modern Dutch at Columbia University and Utrecht University. During the 2016-17 year, she conducted research at Tokyo University’s Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, which was supported by a Fulbright IIE Grant.