Naoko Wake

Associate Professor, Department of History

I am a historian of gender, sexuality, and illness in the twentieth century United States and the Pacific Rim. I am intrigued by the ever-present tension between objectivity and subjectivity in medical and cultural practices, and by the historically changing ways in which sufferers, caregivers, and physicians have grappled with such tension. I have written on the history of psychiatric and psychoanalytic approaches to homosexuality in my first book Private Practices: Harry Stack Sullivan, the Science of Homosexuality, and American Liberalism (Rutgers, 2011). My second monograph concerns Japanese American and Korean American survivors of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, titled American Survivors: Trans-Pacific Memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Cambridge, 2021). In this work, I have explored gender, racial, cross-national identities that emerged in Asia and Asian America in post-colonial contexts, and a range of grass-roots activism that took shape in response to the nuclear destruction: patient rights, civil rights, anti-war and -nuclear activism. I continue to be fascinated by personal experiences and memories of trauma, pain, and illness, and how they coexist and collide with social and cultural institutions. My current project is about the history of disability among Asian Pacific Islander Desi Americans. I work with graduate students in the US modern history, history of gender and sexuality, Asian American history, history of medicine, and history of nuclear weaponry.