Jennifer M. Miller

Academic Appointments

Associate Professor of History
Vice Chair, Department of History

Jennifer M. Miller is a scholar of U.S. foreign relations since 1945, focusing on interactions between the United States and Northeast Asia. Her research examines the intersections between foreign policy and domestic ideas, ideologies, and political narratives; her work explores how new interactions between America and East Asia after World War II transformed both sides’ thinking about security, democratic order, citizenship, and economic growth.  Miller received her Ph.D. in the history of U.S. foreign relations and international history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2012.  She currently offers courses on the history of U.S. foreign relations, the Cold War, and World War II in the Pacific

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Professor Miller’s first book, Cold War Democracy: The United States and Japan (Harvard University Press, 2019), offers a new interpretation of the postwar U.S.-Japanese relationship, one of the United States’ most significant international alliances. It argues that this alliance was not simply the product of American economic or security interests, but that it was fundamentally shaped by American and Japanese ideas about the values and practices necessary to build democracy. Drawing from research in government archives and materials from labor unions, intellectuals, philanthropic organizations, and activist groups, it argues that the Cold War fostered new ideas about democracy, specifically the belief that democracy was not simply political or institutional but also psychological. This emphasis on “spirit” over democratic practice offered a crucial language of reconciliation between American policymakers and conservative Japanese leaders in the aftermath of a massive war. Yet this shared governmental vision was heavily contested by Japanese activists, who articulated their own visions of democracy premised on active citizenship and government accountability to the people. These beliefs fuelled large-scale protests against the U.S.-Japanese alliance that altered the alliance’s security provisions. Bringing together the history of foreign relations, popular protest, and democratic thought, this book provides a new understanding the trans-Pacific Cold War order, and the impact of democratic visions, both domestic and foreign, on the conduct of U.S foreign policy. Choice named Cold War Democracy an Outstanding Academic Title for 2019.

Professor Miller is currently working on a second book that examines how East Asian growth shaped American thinking about capitalism, political order, and social and cultural vitality from the 1970s to the early 2000s, with particularly attention to questions of the family and gender order.  Her most recent article from this project explores neoconservative thinking about East Asian growth, the importance of tradition, and the nature of capitalism in the 1970s and 1980s. She has also written about the ways in which Japan’s economic rise in the 1970s and 1980s shaped President Donald Trump’s approach to international trade and globalization.

The author of two oral history collections on the Korean and Vietnam Wars, Professor Miller is also a faculty leader of the Dartmouth Vietnam Project.

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410 Carson Hall
The John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding
Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Madison
M.A. University of Wisconsin-Madison
B.A. Wesleyan University

Selected Publications

"Neo Conservatives and Neo-Confucians: East Asian Growth and the Celebration of Tradition," Modern Intellectual History, DOI:

“From Mental Slavery to Brainwashing: Anti-Catholic Legacies in Anti-Communist Polemics,” in Todd Weir and Hugh McLeod ed., Defending the Faith: Religious and Secular Apologetics in Twentieth Century Politics. Oxford University Press, 2020 [co-authored with Udi Greenberg].

 “Foreign Encounters and U.S. Democracy.” Special forum in Diplomatic History 45:1 (2021) [co-edited with Daniel Bessner].

Cold War Democracy: The United States and Japan.  Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2019.

U.S.-Japan Relations,” The Oxford Research Encyclopedia in American History.  April 2019.

Let’s not be laughed at anymore: Donald Trump and Japan from the 1980s to the Present,” Journal of American-East Asian Relations 25:2 (2018): 138 – 168.

“Narrating Democracy: The Potsdam Declaration and Japanese Rearmament, 1945 – 1950” in Jeremi Suri and Hal Brands, ed. The Power of the Past: History and Statecraft (Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2015), 99 – 132.

Fractured Alliance: Anti-Base Protests and Postwar U.S.-Japanese Relations,” Diplomatic History 38:5 (November 2014): 953 – 986 [doi: 10.1093/dh/dht122].

“The Struggle to Rearm Japan: Negotiating the Cold War State in U.S.-Japanese Relations,” Journal of Contemporary History 46:1 (January 2011): 82 – 108.

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Works in progress

“Adam Smith’s Arthritis: Japan and Fears of American Decline” in Jonathan Hunt and Simon Miles ed., Reagan’s World: The Cold War and Beyond. Forthcoming with Cornell University Press.

“Building a Capitalist Consciousness: Japan and Visions of Capitalist Asia” in Christopher Dietrich ed., The American Way: Capitalism and Diplomacy in the Twentieth Century. Forthcoming with University of Pennsylvania Press.

“Japan and the Vietnam War,” in Lien-Hang Nguyen and Andrew Preston eds., The Cambridge History of the Vietnam War, Volume 2, 1963 – 1968.