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  • In MemoriamAaron S. Moore (1972–2019)
  • Takashi Nishiyama (bio), Lisa Onaga (bio), Philip Brown (bio), John DiMoia (bio), Yulia Frumer (bio), Christopher Jones (bio), Hiromi Mizuno (bio), Ying Jia Tan (bio), Togo Tsukuhara (bio), and Nobuhiro Yamane (bio)

We mourn the death of Aaron Stephen Moore (9 August 1972–8 September 2019), forerunner in the history of technology in Asia, friend, colleague, and scholar. His life and career cut short has left an empty space in the heart of a network of scholars who have known and benefited from his quiet curiosity that he deftly exercised to encourage historical inquiry and excellence. By co-writing this memorial, we bear witness to Aaron and the profound impact he had as a bridge connecting scholars in North America, Asia, and Europe.

Aaron was a gifted multilingual historian with unusual intellect nurtured since birth in Japan, all to pursue innovative and engaging studies of twentieth-century Asia. As the only son of Stephen William Moore and Lisa Chung Park Moore, Aaron grew up in a stimulating, international environment. Born in Yokosuka, Japan, he lived in Vienna during the 1980s. By the time he graduated from the American School in Japan, he had engaged with at least four languages (English, Japanese, Korean, and German), proficient in each to a high degree. Aaron earned his undergraduate degree in 1994 from the University of Virginia and then lived in rural Kyoto Prefecture, Japan, as an English teacher. The Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, where he conducted research toward his dissertation, was his "intellectual [End Page 678] home" in the country. After earning his doctorate from the History Department in 2006 at Cornell University, where he met his life partner, Nilanjana Bhattacharjya, Aaron held positions at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ohio University, University of California, Los Angeles, and, finally, became a beloved faculty member at Arizona State University.

For the joint SHOT / HSS / 4S meeting in 2011, we received a panel time in the early morning: Friday at 8:30 am. With his teaching and administrative responsibilities, Aaron planned to fly east and arrive before the session, only to be delayed somewhere in the Southeast. He emailed Hiromi [Mizuno] and I the previous evening, and we brainstormed to work on a solution. Quickly setting up a Skype connection, we managed to connect to Aaron, who worked from his laptop in the airport lounge. He presented his paper with control over the screen at the venue, and just as he finished, his plane was called to the gate. He turned the Q&A over to those physically present in Cleveland, and this brought laughter from the audience, as it appeared to be a planned gesture.

John DiMoia

Aaron's scholarship was marked by an intellectual curiosity that was only trumped by his quiet acts of enormous commitment to nurture the field through various initiatives that brought people together across international and disciplinary boundaries. He had taken these initiatives since the earliest moments in his career as a Terasaki Research Fellow at UCLA, where he successfully helped convene a workshop in May 2009. Its theme—"Dis/Continuities: Nation-State Formation in Japan with Science, Technology, and Medicine, 1932–62"—ran through Aaron's public presentations thereafter. He stressed important pre- and postwar continuities in the personnel who managed Japan's international economic and civil engineering projects.

Aaron is probably best known for his groundbreaking work, Constructing East Asia (Stanford University Press, 2013), which earned high accolades nationally and internationally for shedding light on the intellectual history of technological thought that permeated Japan and colonial Manchuria and Korea. By exploring the concept of the "technological imaginary," he innovatively highlighted the fusion of technological and intellectual elements that supported Japan's wartime enterprise across time and space. Technology, as Aaron argued, was not just an objective, rational force but something constituting a subjective, human, even utopian realm that played out at theoretical levels and in specific civil engineering projects abroad. The Japanese translation of his book (Jimbun Shoin, 2019) was anticipated as an intellectual wakeup call for the postwar generations in Japan who have forgotten the contentious relationship between the former colonial empire and its people, let alone historical tensions...