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Hiromi Mizuno
University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN 55455-2009)
The Age of Nitrogen: Japan, Empires, and Postcolonial Asia

Research and writing leading to a book on how chemical nitrogen fertilizer affected the economic, political, and agricultural history of Japan and Asia from the 1900s to the 1970s.

My book examines how chemical nitrogen, the most important fertilizer for crop yield, changed the economic, political, and ecological landscapes of Japan and Asia. An intellectual, environment, and political history that re-examines the twentieth century, it critically analyzes the modern concept of the soil, the relationship between industrialization and agriculture, and various frontiers exploited under the banner of development and food security. It employs an innovative format that centers on the massive and dynamic flow of nitrogenous fertilizer in the Japanese empire, Cold-War Asia, and the world, while bringing in scientists, business leaders, farmers, and policy makers—ignored in the existing scholarship--playing important roles in the expansive fertilizer networks. NEH funding will enable me to complete the manuscript for submission. The book connects Japan to global development and environmental studies and will be accessible to both academic and non-academic readers.

Project fields:
East Asian History; History of Science; International Studies

Fellowships for Advanced Social Science Research on Japan

Research Programs

$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2021 – 6/30/2022