I am an urban historian and development economist based in Sydney, Australia. I hold a PhD in development studies from the National Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) in Tokyo, which I wrote under the guidance of Kaoru Sugihara.

My PhD focused on Tokyo’s post-war urban economic history, and how the city can be regarded a trailblazer for other Asian metropolises. I have published the insights of my thesis in four peer-reviewed journals, including one on the “Tokyo model” in Cities. Please see my ResearchGate page for a full list.

My other research thread is architectural history. I am one of the authors of Architectural Guide Yangon (DOM publishers, 2015). We were hoping to wrap up a second edition sometime in 2022, but COVID-19 and the ongoing political crisis have made on-site research virtually impossible. I have also continued my research about Benjamin Polk and Raglan Squire’s work in Yangon and on the Indian subcontinent.

I have worked for several international financial institutions, and am currently a Senior Bank Advisor for the Asian Development Bank’s Trade and Supply Chain Finance Program (TSCFP). I used to be an adjunct professor at Temple University Japan, where I taught classes on political economy, development economics, cities, and Tokyo.

This blog has been my public notepad for the last ten years. Naturally, the focus has changed and will continue to change depending on what I’m up to.

Please get in touch – my email address is written “hello” at my domain name.

7 thoughts on “About

  1. I sat next to you at Piketty lecture. Enjoyed talking to you and your wife. Anything happen after I left? Your blog is so diverse and very interesting–from Ukraine to Canadian architecture! Regards, Anne

  2. Hi Ben,

    Just discovered your site after looking for information about construction going at the US Embassy in Tokyo in 1964.

    Looking through your posts I noticed we have the same interests about urban history. I think you may like my sites MeijiShowa and Old Photos of Japan if you don’t know them already.

    Kjeld ^_-

  3. Thank you for your article on my father Norman Macrae. Dad was one of the last alumni of Keynes. If you have read the last chapter of Keynes General Theory you will know that Keynsians believe “increasingly only economists rule the world” ie their rules lock in exponentially most of what will be possible for youth out of particular places. We would welcome you joining gycommunity if you feel its about time youth took back what futures are possible! write me if i can introduce you to some GY members.

  4. Ben,

    You work is very interesting. I am urban historian/historic preservationist, and I am very fascinated by the cityscape of pre-war Tokyo. While I have encountered a plethora of images on notable spaces like the Ginza and Nihonbashi, I am looking for written descriptions of photographs of the more workaday residential and industrial areas of the Yamanote and Shitamachi. Any help one where to find these would be greatly appreciated.

  5. Lieber Ben, bin tief beeindruckt von deinen Aktivitäten und akademischen Lorbeeren. Hab nur noch alte Nummern von dir, die wahrscheinlich nicht mehr funktionieren. Wollte mich melden zum Neuen Jahr, euch dreien Glueck und Segen Wünschen und den Kontakt wiederherstellen. Vielleicht erreicht dich das und du reagierst. Meine WhatsApp Nummer ist die alte +491711934325. Freu mich auf eine Nachricht von euch,herzlich dein Xaver

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