David L. Howell is the Robert K. and Dale J. Weary Professor of Japanese History and Professor of History at Harvard University. He is the Chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations and Editor of the Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies. He received his B.A. from the University of Hawai'i at Hilo and Ph.D. in History from Princeton University. He taught at the University of Texas at Austin and Princeton before joining the Harvard faculty in 2010. Howell is the author of Capitalism from Within: Economy, Society, and the State in a Japanese Fishery (1995) and Geographies of Identity in Nineteenth-Century Japan (2005) as well as numerous articles.
Howell's research focuses on the social history of Japan in the Tokugawa (1603–1868) and Meiji (1868–1912) periods. He is particularly interested in the ways changing political and economic institutions affected the lives and livelihoods of ordinary people over the course of the nineteenth century. His current projects include a short survey of the Meiji Restoration period and a history of human waste and garbage in the cities of Tokugawa and Meiji Japan. He is also a co-editor of a new edition of the Cambridge History of Japan, which is scheduled for publication in three volumes in 2021.