Jonas Rüegg is a PhD candidate in History and East Asian Languages, working on modern and early modern Japanese History. He graduated from the University of Zurich before gaining his master’s degree in Regional Studies – East Asia at Harvard with a thesis on the colonization of the Ogasawara islands in the 1860s. In this short-lived colonial experiment, Jonas explores the change in Japan’s perceptions of ethnicity and environment as the Tokugawa state developed ambitions to expand into the Pacific.
Jonas’ prospective dissertation The Pacific Frontier in the Making of the Japanese Empire is a longue durée account of economic and environmental change in insular peripheries that in the 19th century became a nexus between the center of expansion and its island colonies. Focusing on whaling, cattle farming, guano mining and down production, his project observes how in the 19th century a confluence of business and state interests occurred on the open sea, subsequently transforming ecosystems, labor relations and international politics of modern Japan.
Jonas’ further interests include book history, early modern Sino-Japanese exchange, history of science, and 19th century Orientalism.
“幕末・明治：19世紀ジュネーヴに於ける日本研究 [Bakumatsu, Meiji: Japanese Studies in Geneva in the 19th Century]” in: Ōkawa S. and Okamura T. (eds.) 国際都市ジュネーヴ：宗教、思想、政治、経済 [The International City of Geneva: Religion, Thought, Politics and Economy]. Kyoto: Shōwadō, 2018: pp. 62–70.
"Mapping the Forgotten Colony: The Ogasawara Islands and the Tokugawa Pivot to the Pacific” in: Cross-Currents 3/2017, pp. 108-157.
"Aimé Humbert: Wertvorstellungen eines Bourgeois und das Japan der Bakumatsu-Zeit" [Aimé Humbert, Value Concepts of a Bourgeois and Bakumatsu Japan], in: Asiatische Studien / Etudes Asiatiques 1/2015, pp. 47–71.
"Challenges of Japanese Studies in 19th century Europe", in: Kyôritsu Joshi Daigaku sôgô bunka kenkyû kiyô [Bulletin of the center for humanities, Kyôritsu Women's University], 1/2015, p. 153–176.