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Kären Wigen

Frances and Charles Field Professor in History
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley (1990)

Kären Wigen teaches Japanese history and the history of cartography.  A geographer by training, she earned her doctorate at the University of California at Berkeley. Her first book, The Making of a Japanese Periphery, 1750-1920 (1995), mapped the economic transformation of southern Nagano Prefecture during the heyday of the silk industry. Her second book, A Malleable Map: Geographies of Restoration in Central Japan, 1600-1912 (2010), returned to the ground of that study, exploring the roles of cartography, chorography, and regionalism in the making of modern Shinano.  An abiding interest in world history led her to co-author The Myth of Continents (1997) with Martin Lewis. She also introduced a forum on oceans in history for the American Historical Review and co-edited Seascapes: Maritime Histories, Littoral Cultures, and Transoceanic Exchanges (2007) with Jerry Bentley and Renate Bridenthal. Her latest book is another collaboration, Time in Maps: From the Age of Discovery to Our Digital Era, coedited with Caroline Winterer (2020).


Fields of Interest

Historical geography of East Asia, early modernity in Japan, regional economies and rhetorics, geographies of the imagination