About John Traphagan

J. W. Traphagan was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He is a professor emeritus in the Program in Human Dimensions of Organizations at the University of Texas at Austin and has been a visiting professor at Waseda University in Tokyo. He received his BA in political science from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, his MA in religion from Yale University, and his PhD in social anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh. Traphagan first visited Japan in the late 1980s, and in the 1990s he conducted research for almost two years there as a Fulbright scholar. He has returned annually and spent a total of almost five years in rural areas and Tokyo. After publishing numerous scientific papers and monographs describing and analyzing Japanese culture and society, Traphagan became disenchanted and bored with the jargon and theory-laden prose that typifies academic writing. He decided to explore ethnography by drawing on his fieldnotes as a basis for creating fiction intended to capture the richness and complexity of life in the rural area where he has lived and worked. His first novel, The Blood of Gutoku: A Jack Riddley Mystery in Japan (Balestier 2021), is a product of that endeavor. His two other most recent books are Cosmopolitan Rurality, Depopulation, and Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in 21st Century Japan (Cambria Press, 2020) and Embracing Uncertainty: Future Jazz, That 13th Century Buddhist Monk, and the Invention of Cultures (Sumeru Press, 2021).

John W. Traphagan, Ph.D. is a visiting professor in the Center for International Education at Waseda University in Tokyo and Professor Emeritus in the Program in Human Dimensions of Organizations at the University of Texas at Austin.

John's website

NBN Episodes hosted by John:

Jaime Green, "The Possibility of Life: Science, Imagination and Our Vision of the Cosmos" (Hanover Square Press, 2023)

May 29, 2023

The Possibility of Life

Jaime Green
Hosted by John Traphagan
Listen:

In this episode we talk to Jaime Green about her superb cultural and scientific exploration of alien life and the cosmos. It examines how the possibil…

War, Optimism, Humility:  A Conversation with Literary Critic Mariia Shuvalova

March 25, 2023

War, Optimism, Humility

Mariia Shuvalova
Hosted by John Traphagan

This episode of How To Be Wrong is a conversation with Mariia Shuvalova, a lecturer at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Fulbright Schol…

What Went Wrong in the 1970s in the USA?: A Discussion with Bill McKibben

December 12, 2022

What Went Wrong in the 70s in the USA?

Bill McKibben
Hosted by John Traphagan

In this episode of How To Be Wrong we talk with author, educator, and environmentalist Bill McKibben, founder of Third Act, an organization focused on…

Chris McMorran, "Ryokan: Mobilizing Hospitality in Rural Japan" (U Hawaii Press, 2022)

December 2, 2022

Ryokan

Chris McMorran
Hosted by John Traphagan

Today I talked to Chris McMorran about his new book Ryokan: Mobilizing Hospitality in Rural Japan (U Hawaii Press, 2022). Amid the decline of many of…

Radicalism, Humility, and Racism in America: A Conversation with Philosopher Lydia Moland

October 17, 2022

Radicalism, Humility, and Racism in America

Lydia Moland
Hosted by John Traphagan

Today’s episode focuses on the new book by Lydia Moland, who is a Professor of Philosophy at Colby College. Her book, Lydia Maria Child: A Radical Am…

History, Space, and Getting Things Wrong

September 14, 2022

History, Space, and Getting Things Wrong

Steven Dick
Hosted by John Traphagan

In today’s episode of How To Be Wrong we welcome Dr. Steven Dick, retired Chief Historian at NASA and one of the leading historians of space explorati…

Twitter, Intellectual Discourse, and Humility

August 10, 2022

Twitter, Intellectual Discourse, and Humility

George Styles
Hosted by John Traphagan

For this episode of How To Be Wrong, I speak with George Styles, a biochemist and author of the book Contemplation. George is also what we describe t…

Humility and the Academic Administrator

July 29, 2022

Humility and the Academic Administrator

William Tsutsui
Hosted by John Traphagan

This episode of How To Be Wrong explores questions of leadership and humility with Dr. Bill Tsutsui, Chancellor and Professor of History at Ottawa Uni…

Sheila A. Smith, "Japan Rearmed: The Politics of Military Power" (Harvard UP, 2019)

July 7, 2022

Japan Rearmed

Sheila A. Smith
Hosted by John Traphagan

Today I talked to Sheila A. Smith about her book Japan Rearmed: The Politics of Military Power (Harvard UP, 2019). Modern Japan is not only respondin…

The Career of a Writer: A Discussion with Douglas Richards

June 24, 2022

The Career of a Writer

Douglas Richards
Hosted by John Traphagan

In this episode of How To Be Wrong, we talk with novelist New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Douglas Richards, about his career as a writ…

Ethnography, Humility, Identity, and the Academy

June 10, 2022

Ethnography, Humility, Identity, and the Academy

Khytie Brown
Hosted by John Traphagan

In today’s episode of How To Be Wrong we welcome Dr. Khytie Brown, who is an assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the Univers…

Higher Education and the Humble Brag: A Discussion with Adrian Lenardic

May 17, 2022

Higher Education and the Humble Brag

Adrian Lenardic
Hosted by John Traphagan

In today’s episode of How To Be Wrong we welcome Adrian Lenardic, who is a professor in the Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences …

Leadership and Humility: A Conversation with Major General Ken Wisian

March 14, 2022

Leadership and Humility

Ken Wisian
Hosted by John Traphagan

For today’s episode of How To Be Wrong we welcome Dr. Ken Wisian, who is geophysicist and Associate Director in the Environmental Division of the Bure…

Intellectual Humility in Science: A Discussion with Glenn Sauer

March 10, 2022

Intellectual Humility

Glenn Sauer
Hosted by John Traphagan

Today’s episode of How To Be Wrong welcomes Glenn Sauer, who is Donald J. Ross Sr. Chair in Biology and Biochemistry and Professor of Biology at Fairf…

Sher Wells-Jensen on the Pitfalls of Linguistics

December 23, 2021

Sher Wells-Jensen on the Pitfalls of Linguistics

Sher Wells-Jensen
Hosted by John Traphagan

In this episode of How To Be Wrong we talk with Dr. Sher Wells-Jensen, a professor of linguistics at Bowling Green State University and an expert in x…

How to Be Wrong: An Introduction to the Podcast

November 10, 2021

How to Be Wrong

John Kaag and John Traphagan
Hosted by John Traphagan

"How To Be Wrong" is a podcast series hosted by John J. Kaag, Professor and Chair of Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and John W. …

George Styles, "Contemplation" (2021)

October 29, 2021

Contemplation

George Styles
Hosted by John Traphagan

Although many of us move through life at a fast pace, do you ever stop to wonder why things are the way they are? More so, do you even know why you sh…

Susanne Klien, "Urban Migrants in Rural Japan: Between Agency and Anomie in a Post-growth Society" (SUNY Press, 2020)

October 6, 2021

Urban Migrants in Rural Japan

Susanne Klien
Hosted by John Traphagan

Susanne Klien's book Urban Migrants in Rural Japan: Between Agency and Anomie in a Post-growth Society (SUNY Press, 2020) provides a fresh perspective…

Kimiko Tanaka and Nan E. Johnson, "Successful Aging in a Rural Community in Japan" (Carolina Academic Press, 2021)

September 29, 2021

Successful Aging in a Rural Community in Japan

Kimiko Tanaka and Nan E. Johnson
Hosted by John Traphagan

Kimiko Tanaka and Nan E. Johnson's Successful Aging in a Rural Community in Japan (Carolina Academic Press, 2021) discusses population aging in rural …

Shen Yang, "More Than One Child: Memoirs of an Illegal Daughter" (Balestier Press, 2021)

September 13, 2021

More Than One Child

Shen Yang
Hosted by John Traphagan

'I broke a law simply by being born.' In the late 1980s, Shen Yang was born during the fiercest years of China's One-Child Policy. As the second daugh…

Hanno Jentzsch, "Harvesting State Support: Institutional Change and Local Agency in Japanese Agriculture" (U Toronto Press, 2021)

August 11, 2021

Harvesting State Support

Hanno Jentzsch
Hosted by John Traphagan

Agriculture has been among the toughest political battlegrounds in postwar Japan and represents an ideal case study in institutional stability and cha…

James S. J. Schwartz, "The Value of Science in Space Exploration" (Oxford UP, 2020)

April 5, 2021

The Value of Science in Space Exploration

James S. J. Schwartz
Hosted by John Traphagan

The Value of Science in Space Exploration (Oxford UP, 2020) provides a rigorous assessment of the value of scientific knowledge and understanding in t…

Edward Ashford Lee, "The Coevolution: The Entwined Futures of Humans and Machines" (MIT Press, 2020)

April 2, 2021

The Coevolution

Edward Ashford Lee
Hosted by John Traphagan

Are humans defining technology, or is technology defining humans? In The Coevolution: The Entwined Futures of Humans and Machines (MIT Press, 2020), E…

A. M. Thawnghmung, "Everyday Economic Survival in Myanmar" (U Wisconsin Press, 2019)

January 22, 2021

Everyday Economic Survival in Myanmar

Ardeth Maung Thawnghmung
Hosted by John Traphagan

Reforms in Myanmar (formerly Burma) have eased restrictions on citizens' political activities. Yet for most Burmese, Ardeth Maung Thawnghmung shows in…