Tetsuo Najita, the Robert S. Ingersoll Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in History, East Asian Languages and Civilizations and the College, died on Monday, January 11. He was 84 years old.
Professor Najita joined the Department of History of the University of Chicago in 1969 and was a member of the faculty until his retirement in 2002. He was chair of the Department of History from 1994-1997 and acting chair with Neil Harris from 2000-2001. Professor Najita published many influential books on the early modern and modern intellectual history of Japan, including Hara Kei and the Politics of Compromise (1967), which was awarded the John King Fairbank Prize in East Asian History, and Visions of Virtue: The Kaitokudô Merchant Academy of Osaka (1987), which won the Yamagata Bantō Prize. His final book, Ordinary Economies in Japan: A Historical Perspective, 1750-1950, was published in 2009.
Professor Najita also served as director of the Center for East Asian Studies from 1974-1980 and as Master of the Social Science Collegiate Division from 1984-1987. In 2007, the Japan Committee of the Center for East Asian Studies created the Najita Lecture Series to commemorate his many achievements. The first speaker was Nobel Prize Winner Oe Kenzaburo.
The Association for Asian Studies has published remembrances from Professor Najita's friends and colleagues. Please find the University of Chicago Division of the Social Sciences' obituary here.
The Department of History extends its condolonces to Professor Najita's family and friends, including his wife, Elinor, and their children and grandchildren.