Michael Schiltz




Associate Professor

Research Keywords

Japanese history, economic / financial history, Asian history, digital humanities


BA: University of Leuven
MA: University of Leuven
PhD: University of Leuven


As a financial historian, I am fascinated by the ways in which money and finance have made modern society tick, especially since the ‘first globalization’ (1870-1914), a period that coincides with the proliferation of the gold standard on a global scale. Of particular interest to me are are the so-called network effects that are innate to currencies when it comes to their role as means of settling international trade. As we know from the historical record, network effects produce and reproduce center-periphery constellations with strong consequences for the way both center and periphery come to terms with more or less identical problems. This center-periphery dynamic was the crux of my first book project on imperial Japan’s definition of monetary regimes in the empire’s own periphery (Taiwan, Korea, Northeast China and Manchuria). It also figures strongly in my second, now completed, book project on the managing practice within the country’s semi-national exchange bank, the Yokohama Specie Bank. In charge of boosting Japanese trade with both the world’s leading economic powerhouses and the Asian Hinterland, its bankers were profoundly aware of the schisms between the former and the latter. As the book demonstrates, it defined the bank’s role and evolution in the steadily expanding Japanese influence on the Asian mainland.

I also have a not so secret double-life as an explorer of the digital revolution for scientific practice and communication. The latter has come to have a direct impact on my own research and teaching. I chose to document both through non-conventional means as e.g. twitter (@michaelschiltz) and GitHub (https://github.com/michaelschiltz)

In my classes, the multilingual aspect is key. It is very refreshing when different students engage with primary and secondary sources in Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean, etc. Both Japanese and non-Japanese students are warmly invited to participate in my courses. As the era in which we live has made the consultation of primary sources both practical and desirable, they will form the basis of presentations and discussions. Last, I tend to organize my classes in a very open, nonhierarchical way. Learning should be a fun and gratifying experience!

Classes Taught on MJSP

Japanese History II, Introduction to Japanese Studies (History), 日本制度論 III

Selected Publications


  • Michael Schiltz, forthcoming. “On an Even Keel”: Silver Risk, Trade Finance, and Hedging Strategies around the Turn of the Twentieth Century​.
  • Michael Schiltz, 2012. The Money Doctors from Japan – Finance, Imperialism, and the Building of the ‘Yen Bloc’, ​Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Journal articles

  • Michael Schiltz, 2012. ‘Money on the Road to Empire —Matsukata Masayoshi’s Choice for Gold Monometallism’. ​Economic History Review​, published by Blackwell Publishing
  • Michael Schiltz and Gert Verschraegen, 2007. ‘Knowledge as a Global Public Good: The Role and Importance of Open Access’, ​Societies Without Borders 2 (2007) 157–174.
  • Michael Schiltz, 2007. ‘Space is the Place -The Laws of Form and Social Systems’. In ​Thesis Eleven: Critical Theory and Historical Sociology​, 88 (February), pp. 8-30.
  • Michael Schiltz / Fred Truyen / Hans Coppens, 2007. ‘Cutting the Trees of Knowledge: Social Software, Information Architecture, and Their Epistemic Consequences’. In ​Thesis Eleven: Critical Theory and Historical Sociology 89, p. 94-114.
  • Michael Schiltz, 2006. ‘An ‘ideal bank of issue’ – The Bank of Japan Modelled upon the Banque Nationale de Belgique’. ​Financial History Review​ 13 (2), pp. 179-196 .
  • Michael Schiltz / Verschraegen Gert / Magnolo, Stefano. 2006. ‘Open Access to Knowledge in World Society?’. In ​Soziale Systeme​ 11, 2, pp. 346-369.
  • Michael Schiltz, 2006. ‘Power and the Third Paradox’. In ​Cybernetics and Human Knowing​ 13, 1, pp. 49-70.
  • Michael Schiltz, 2005. 「権力と第三のパラドックス」 Kenryoku to ‘daisan no paradokkusu’. ​Seigakuin University General Research Institute Bulletin​ 33, pp. 542-581.

Book chapters

  • Michael Schiltz, 2018. “Currency Blocs: The Yen”. In Stefano Battilossi, Youssef Cassis, and Kazuhiko Yago, ​Handbook of the History of Money and Currency ​(Springer).
  • Michael Schiltz, 2009. ‘Space is the Place -The Laws of Form and Social Systems’, pp. 157-178 in Bruce Clarke & Mark B. Hansen, ​Emergence and Embodiment: New Essays in Second-Order Systems Theory​ (Duke University Press).
  • Simon Bytheway & Michael Schiltz, 2009. ‘The dynamics of Wakon Yosai; The Paradoxes and Challenges of financial policy in an industrializing Japan, 1854-1939’, pp. 57-79 in D. Bennett, J. Earnet, M. Tanji (eds.), ​People, Place and Power: Australia and the Asia Pacific​ (Perth, Black Swan Press).
  • Michael Schiltz & Raffaele de Giorgi, 2006. ‘Was ist moderne Macht?’. In Gerd Bender, Rainer Maria Kiesow und Dieter Simon (eds.), ​Die andere Seite des Wirtschaftsrechts -Steuerung in den Diktaturen des 20. Jahrhunderts (Studien zur europäischen Rechtsgeschichte Band 208) (Frankfurt, 2006), pp. 383-403.
  • Michael Schiltz. 2005. ‘The Bank of Japan Modeled after the Banque Nationale de Belgique’. In W.F. Vande Walle (ed.), ​Japan & Belgium: Four Centuries of Exchange​. Published by the Commissioner-General of the Belgian Government for the 2005 World Exposition, Aichi, Japan.