Kjell Ericson - CEAS Postdoctoral Associate & Lecturer in History
Kjell Ericson is a historian of Japan with interests in science, law, and oceans. Kjell received his Ph.D. from Princeton University. His current research project examines the intertwined twentieth century histories of marine pearl cultivation in the Japanese empire and machine-mediated methods for telling “natural” pearls apart from “cultured” or “cultivated” ones in post-WWI Europe. Amid dramatic transformations in Japan’s patent and fisheries laws, marine entrepreneurs began to raise and surgically manipulate living shellfish in order to produce pearls on a massive scale. Pearl and precious stone wholesalers in England and France sought to create distinctions between their own pearls and new ones from Japan that looked virtually identical on the surface. Making use of archival materials on four continents, this project reconstructs the global activities of Mikimoto Kōkichi, a man whose pearl business was at the center of multiple contests over the meaning of cultivation on land and sea. During his time at Yale, Kjell plans to revise his dissertation for publication and teach an undergraduate seminar called “Japan and the Ocean, 1600-Present.”
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