david p. phillips


Associate Professor
Humanities Program

I've had a life-long interest in East Asian Studies dating back to my youth, when my father took the family on an extended trip to Asia during a sabbatical in 1968 and we traveled to Japan and Hong Kong. In high school I enrolled in a community Chinese language program, following up with summer school and night courses in Cambridge, and spent the summer in Tajimi, Japan as an exchange student with Youth for Understanding. After completing my undergraduate work at Cornell U niversity in 1980 in Asian Studies, Anthropology, and Linguistics, I lived in Japan for three years, starting as an English teaching consultant for the JET program precursor, MEF, in Niigata Prefecture, completing advanced Japanese language studies at the Stanford University administered Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies in Tokyo, and working as a consultant for International Business Information in Tokyo, primarily writing corporate business publications. I returned to academia in 1983, pursuing a Masters in Architecture at the University of Washington. After a year at Kyoto University in the architectural history research lab, I went on to earn a Masters and Doctorate in City and Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania, focusing in my research on Japanese architecture and planning, urban history, and cultural studies. My dissertation was titled Intersections of Modernity and Tradition: An Urban Planning History of Tokyo in the Early Meiji Period (1868-1888). Recent research projects include a study of approaches to combining historic preservation measures and innovative architectural design in contemporary Kyoto. I am currently working on a book project on the architect Kenzo Tange and his utopian plans for the city of Tokyo.