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History of the Department


Japanese History at the Ruhr University Bochum

The Ruhr University Bochum was founded in 1962 and started to operating in 1965 as the first institution of higher learning in the predominantly industrial region of the "Ruhr Area", hence its name. This university was created with a new organizational structure to respond adequately to the demands of modern research, especially through emphasizing interdisciplinarity and the integration of the engineering sciences, previously often kept apart at seperate technical universities.

The Ruhr University also offers a broad range of humanities which from the very start has included a considerably large faculty for East Asian Studies. This faculty was conceptualized to include seven sections, each one specializing in either history or literature, politics or economy of Japan, China or Korea. The section for Japanese History, like the University itself, was founded in 1965 and has always been an important part of the East Asian Faculty, especially since the Ruhr University has developed a wellknown tradition for historical research, and the section for Japanese History has produced quite a number of todays univerisity teachers in Germany and abroad.

The first professor for Japanese History was Prof. Horst Hammitzsch (teaching from 1965 to 1977) who specialized in the History of Thought in Japan and also in the History of the Tokugawa Period. His academic sucessor, Prof. Hans A. Dettmer started teaching in 1978 and shifted the emphasis to History of Law and the Nara Period. He also supervised project concerning the famous "Siebold Collection", partly housed in the Faculty of East Asian Studies at the Ruhr University. Although retired, he is still editor in charge for publications resulting from research based on this collection. In October 1996 Prof. Regine Mathias was appointed to chair. She specialised in social and economic history of modern Japan and was working at projects concerning the development of white collar occupations in prewar Japan as well as on general topic of modernisation. She was also preparing several interdisciplinary projects to integrate the section for Japanese History in the context of the Faculty of History and to work together with the section for Chinese History in the East Asian Department in order to open up new horizons for research in the section of Japanese History.
The present professor for Japanese History, Prof. Dr. Katja Schmidtpott, came in April 2017.