Carnegie Mellon University

Ricky Law

Ricky W. Law

Associate Professor & Director of Undergraduate Studies


Ricky W. Law is a historian of interwar Germany, Japan, and transnational movements. His first book, Transnational Nazism: Ideology and Culture in German-Japanese Relations, 1919–1936, explores the cultural context of Tokyo and Berlin’s political rapprochement in 1936. It argues that an ideological outlook, transnational Nazism, enticed some Japanese to become adherents of Hitler and National Socialism, and convinced some Germans to accommodate Japan in the Nazi worldview. Because of the distance between Germany and Japan, mass media was instrumental in shaping mutual perceptions and spreading transnational Nazism. The book surveys the two national media to examine the impact of transnational Nazism. When Hitler and the Nazi movement gained prominence, Japanese newspapers, lectures and pamphlets, nonfiction, and language textbooks transformed to promote the man and his party. Meanwhile, the ascendancy of Hitler and his regime created a niche for Japan in the Nazi worldview and Nazified newspapers, films, nonfiction, and voluntary associations.

Law grew up in the Central Coast of California. He studied electrical engineering before receiving his B.A. in History and German from the University of California, Berkeley. In his junior year he attended the University of Göttingen, Germany as an exchange student. After graduation he taught English in Hokkaido, Japan as a participant of the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program. Through his experiences abroad he developed a strong interest in Germany and Japan, which he pursued by earning his M.A. and Ph.D. in History (Global History concentration) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is also fascinated by Roman history.

Law’s courses cover a broad range of topics and world regions. He created different versions of the Global Histories classes, with themes on genocide and weapons of mass destruction, nation-states in film, and democracy. He plans to develop other courses on German, Japanese, and Roman histories.

He is currently working on a book manuscript on interwar and wartime Japanese foreign relations through the lens of foreign language acquisition.


Ph.D.: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2012


  • Transnational Nazism: Ideology and Culture in German-Japanese Relations, 1919–1936. Publications of the German Historical Institute. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019.
  • “Nationality and Personality: Jews in Imperial Japan’s Greater East Asia,” Yad Vashem Studies 45.2 (2018): 203–212.
  • “Beauty and the Beast: Japan in Interwar German Newsreels,” in Beyond Alterity: German Encounters with Modern East Asia, eds. Martin Rosenstock and Qinna Shen (New York: Berghahn Books, 2014): 17–33.
  • “Between the State and the People: Civil Society Organizations in Interwar Japan,” History Compass 12.3 (2014): 217–225.

Courses Taught

  • Death and Destruction: Genocides and Weapons of Mass Destruction (Global Histories)
  • Based on a True Story: The Modern Nation-state through Film (Global Histories)

  •  The Best Worst Form of Government: History of Democracy (Global Histories)

    Seminar in Instruction

Department Member Since: 2013