Michael Laver’s research interests are diverse and wide-ranging, although to date he has published mainly in the field of early modern Japan. His first book, Japan’s Economy by Proxy, details Japanese trade with the wider early modern world as facilitated mainly by Dutch, Chinese, and Portuguese merchants. His second book, The Sakoku Edicts and the Politics of Tokugawa Hegemony, argues that the several strictures the Tokugawa shogun put on trade with Japan, as well as on foreign influences in Japan, was primarily an attempt to bolster domestic power within the Japanese islands. Professor Laver teaches courses on modern and premodern Japan and China, modern East Asia, global Christianity, and baseball.
Professor Laver serves as the chair of the Department of History. In addition, he is a faculty associate of the International and Global Studies Program, having served previously as the program director of that program. He has also served in a number of other capacities at RIT, including as Chair of Academic Senate and as co-chair of the Middle States Reaccreditation Process.
Professor Laver earned his B.A. in History and Psychology at Purdue University and Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania. Before joining the faculty at RIT in 2008, Laver was assistant professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point from 2006-2008.