University of Southern California

Graduate Students

Michelle Damian

Contact Information


Biographical Sketch

I received my BA in Asian Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1996, and subsequently spent seven years working in Japan. I returned to the USA in 2003, first completing an MA in Museum Studies at George Washington University and then entering East Carolina University's MA in Maritime Studies program to study nautical archaeological techniques. My thesis there focused on exploring Japanese maritime woodblock prints to learn about ship construction and usage during the Edo period (1603 – 1868). For my dissertation research here at USC, I intend to focus on the maritime cultural landscape of the medieval Seto Inland Sea, including both physical remnants of port towns and trade networks, and psychological manifestations of human interaction with the sea through daily practices and rituals. I believe strongly in the need for public outreach about these topics, and am an exhibits editor for the non-profit online Museum of Underwater Archaeology (, promoting maritime research globally. I have been a Teaching Assistant in the department for courses on Chinese history, Korean history, and modern business Asia.


  • CERT Kyushu Univ.
  • B.A. UC - Berkeley, 05/1996
  • M.A. George Washington Univ, 08/2005
  • M.A. East Carolina Univ, 05/2010


Research Keywords

  • Premodern Japan, Japan, archaeology, maritime, China, Asia

Research Specialties

  • Premodern Japan, Japan, archaeology, maritime, China, Asia

Conference Presentations

  • Fourth Symposium on Underwater Archaeology, Tokyo, 10/2012
  • Reassessing the Shoen System: Society and Economy in Medieval Japan, 6/2012
  • 5th World Conference of the Society of East Asian Archaeology, 6/2012
  • Inaugural Asia-Pacific Regional Conference on Underwater Cultural Heritage, 11/2011
  • Annual Conference of Asian Studies on the Pacific Coast (ASPAC)2009
  • American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting2008
  • Society for Historical Archaeology Annual Conference2008
  • Society for History of Technology Annual Conference2007
  • Conference on Teaching and Learning in the Maritime Environment2007


  • Book Review
    Damian, M. M. (2010). Nautical Research Journal.

Honors and Awards

  • Fulbright Award, Graduate Research Fellowship, 2011-2012