Dustin Wright

Dustin Wright

Visiting Assistant Professor of History

Joined Connecticut College: 2017

Ph.D., University of California, Santa Cruz
M.A., University of California, Santa Cruz
M.A., San Diego State University
B.A., Northern Arizona University


Japanese history

East Asian history

Pacific history

Social movements

Food history

Colonialism and imperialism

Cold War

Critical geography

Dustin Wright is a historian of Japan, The Pacific, Okinawa and East Asia. At Conn, he teaches a range of courses, including Protest and US Imperialism in Asia, Quakes & Nukes: (Un)Natural Japanese History, Food Empires of Asia and the Pacific, The Making of Modern East Asia, and Art and Invention in Ancient Japan.

Dustin Wright's current manuscript, "Bloody Sunagawa: Anti-Base Protest and the Struggle for Peace in Modern Japan," explores one of the most important (and least known) social movements in modern Japanese history. The Sunagawa Struggle was a pioneering anti-US military base and runway expansion movement that began in 1955 in the Sunagawa district of Tachikawa, a Tokyo suburb. Sunagawa became a proving ground for radical activists who later participated in social movements throughout Japan throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and into today. As a cultural historian, Dustin interrogates the colorful and relatively forgotten histories of local Japanese citizens who had a profound influence on the course of the Japanese state and the U.S.-Japan military alliance. The project recognizes the everyday activists who are at the center of the fight for democracy and peace in Japan today.

Dustin has written widely on issues related U.S.-Japan historical relations, appeared on "Rising Up With Sonali," and has written for The Japan Times. He is also working on two new projects. The first, a colonial history of Spam (the canned meat product) across the Pacific, is drawn from his interest in Pacific food histories, which is also one of his favorite teaching subjects. The other investigates the basetown milieu of 1960s Okinawa through the lens of single criminal act; the killing of a local baseworker.

Prior to pursuing doctoral work, Dustin worked for an international health and development NGO headquartered in San Diego, a work experience that was made possible and enriched by his education in the liberal arts.

Recent publications

  • "Bloody Sunagawa: Anti-Base Protest and the Fight for Peace in Modern Japan" (manuscript under preparation)
  • “From Tokyo to Wounded Knee: Two Afterlives of the Sunagawa Struggle” (article under preparation for The Sixties: A Journal of History, Politics, and Culture)
  • “Spadework in Okinawa: The 1969 Futenma Antennae Construction Plan” (journal article under preparation)
  • Impasse At MCAS Futenma, Critical Asian Studies, 42:3, 457 – 468. (September 2010) “The impasse at Futenma is created in Washington.” Sekai, (Iwanami Shoten: January/February 2010)

Recent conferences and workshops

  • Presenter, “From Tokyo to Wounded Knee: Two Afterlives of the Sunagawa Struggle,” Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations Annual Conference, Washington D.C. June 24, 2017
  • Participant, “Bodies and Structures: Deep-Mapping the Spaces of Japanese History.” University of California, Santa Barbara. June 8-11, 2017
  • Participant, "New Topics, Technologies and New Times: Japan Ahead." Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Center for Japanese Studies, University of California, Berkeley. February 24-25, 2017
  • Presenter, “Activism in the Courts: Popular Challenges to the Legality of Military Bases in Japan” in the panel, “Contentious Legal Boundaries: East and Southeast Asian Sovereignty,” Association for Asian Studies, Seattle, March 31-April 3, 2016
  • Panel Organizer/Presenter, “Militarization As Urbanization: Anti-Base Struggle In A Changing Tokyo,” in the panel, “The Meanings of Peace in Modern Japan: The Tenacity of War and Protest in a ‘Pacifist’ State.” Association for Asian Studies, Chicago. March 26-29, 2015
  • Participant, “Shifting Terrains of Struggle in Japan and Japanese Studies. Triangle Center for Japanese Studies, UNC Chapel Hill. April 11-13, 2014
  • Social Science Research Council and Association for Asian Studies Dissertation Workshop, “Dispossession, Capital, and the State.” Philadelphia. March 30-April 2, 2014
  • “Spaces of Resistance.” University of California Humanities Research Institute’s Seminar on Experimental Critical Theory. III, American University in Beirut, Lebanon. July 29-August 8, 2012

My office is always open to any students interested in chatting about careers in the NGO world and ways that a history degree can prepare you for life within and beyond the academe. I'm also happy to chat about traveling, hiking, British dramas, and dim sum.

Dustin Wright

Contact Dustin Wright

Mailing Address

Dustin Wright
Connecticut College
Box #5552
270 Mohegan Ave.
New London, CT 06320


Winthrop Hall 309