Julia Adeney Thomas is an associate professor in the Department of History at the University of Notre Dame. Bringing critical theory to bear on questions of power in modern societies, Thomas investigates concepts of nature in Japanese political ideology, the impact of environmental history on historiography, and photography as a political practice.
At Radcliffe, Thomas is analyzing photography as a civic craft rather than as art or documentary, revealing the architecture of social hope and its limitations.
Thomas earned her PhD at the University of Chicago. Her book Reconfiguring Modernity: Concepts of Nature in Japanese Political Ideology (University of California Press, 2001) received the John K. Fairbank Prize from the American Historical Association in 2002, and her essay on wartime memory in Japan titled “Photography, National Identity, and the 'Cataract of Times': Wartime Images and the Case of Japan,” which appeared in the American Historical Review (December 1998), received the Berkshire Conference Article Prize in 1999. Many generous foundations and organizations have supported her research, including the American Council of Learned Societies, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science, the Japan Foundation, Mombusho (the Japanese Ministry of Education), the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Social Science Research Council, among others.