Photo credits:
Danish Saroee

Mikael S. Adolphson

Fellow, SCAS.
Keidanren Professor of Japanese Studies, University of Cambridge


Mikael S. Adolphson is a broadly trained historian with a strong interest in medieval societies. He
studied medieval religions in southern France at Lund University before suddenly being inspired to
switch focus to Japan. Nevertheless, he took with him an interest in Annales history to the Japan
field, and accordingly studies a wide variety of topics, ranging from social structures, ideologies,
mentalité
, religious institutions, legal history, historical documents and international trade. In addition,
he has a strong interest in how historical narratives have been and are constructed, both in the past
and in the present.

Following appointments at the University of Oklahoma, Harvard University, and the University of Alberta,
Adolphson moved to the University of Cambridge in 2016, where he has been Chair of Japanese Studies,
Head of the Department of East Asian Studies, and Co-Chair of the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern
Studies.

Adolphson’s main publications include Lovable Losers: The Heike in Action and Memory (2015), The
Teeth and Claws of the Buddha: Monastic Warriors and Sohei in Japanese History
(2007), Heian Japan,
Centers and Peripheries
(2007) and The Gates of Power: Monks, Courtiers and Warriors in Premodern
Japan
(2000). His current project focuses on Sino-Japanese trade in the twelfth century, with a special
focus on the import of Chinese copper coins, which eventually led to a monetised economy in the thir-
teenth and fourteenth centuries.

While at SCAS, Adolphson will add a comparative angle to his project by examining the import, use, and
minting of coins in early medieval Scandinavia.


This information is accurate as of the academic year 2021-22.