Professor David Wolff Named Humboldt Research Award Recipient

According to the Alexander von Humboldt (AvH) Foundation website, the Humboldt Research Award, Germany’s top academic honor, is given “to researchers whose fundamental discoveries, new theories or findings have had a lasting effect on their discipline beyond their immediate research area and who are expected, moreover, to continue producing outstanding research in the future.”

Professor Wolff’s award is based on thirty years of publications that shed light on Russia’s activities in Asia during a long 20th century. His monograph on Harbin (To the Harbin Station, Stanford, 1999 / Kodansha 2014) is considered a fundamental text of the new Imperiology, which recognizes a wider range and more fine-grained hegemonic practices, based on details revealed by formerly classified archival documents. Professor Wolff’s edited and coedited volumes and thematic journal issues have introduced the work of many Northeast Asian historians to the English reading audience, including essays and articles by more than 30 Japanese scholars. With four major projects underway, Professor Wolff may yet produce work more influential than his opus to date.

During the last decade, Professor Wolff has built on the academic agreement between Hokkaido University and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München to work closely with the newly established Professorship [Lehrstuhl] for the study of Russia in Asia. It is the only academic position in Europe dedicated to Russia pointed East and is presently held by the distinguished specialist on the history of Russian medicine, Professor Andreas Renner. In addition to lectures at the LMU and the placement of two SRC postdocs at LMU, Professor Wolff has visited at the LMU Center for Advanced Studies, collaborated on a North Pacific initiative with the German Historical Institute Moscow, and served as editorial advisor to a book series on the North Pacific at Heidelberg University.

One of the Award’s goals is to increase cooperation with German scientists, so all recipients are required to spend significant time in Germany completing joint projects with their German colleagues. Since the Humboldt Foundation makes these awards with the expectation that the recipients will “continue producing outstanding research,” Professor Wolff will continue his four ongoing book projects, presenting chapters at faculty/student seminars during each of four 10-week stays in Germany over the course of four years. Professor Wolff will also strengthen the LMU offerings on Russia in East Asia, to complement LMU strengths on Central Asia and the Caucasus. During each of the four visits, he will focus sequentially on Russia’s relations with China, Japan, Korea and the Russian Far East. In addition to introductory lectures for a wider university audience, he will advise advanced students on their research projects.

Professor Wolff’s award will be officially presented in Berlin at a formal dinner hosted by the President of Germany. This event is presently scheduled for June 2023.

Munich and Sapporo are sister cities. Hokkaido University’s academic cooperation agreement with LMU is Hokkaido University’s oldest ongoing connection in Europe. 2023 will be the 40th anniversary of this agreement and it will also be the year in which Professor Wolff officially receives the Humboldt Research Award. We are looking forward to celebrating at all levels.