Dr. Darren Swanson

Darren Swanson (left) is presented with his Shogun award by Mike Dreelan.

Dr Darren Swanson, originally from Aberdeenshire, is an academic with a background in museums and cultural history training at Aberdeen University, St Andrews University, Kobe University, and the University of Sydney. Since 2013, Darren has been based in Sydney where he received his doctorate in Asian Studies from the University of Sydney’s School of Languages and Cultures in early 2017. His research and publications are primarily concerned with the history of foreign, and more specifically, Scottish, influence in Japan and wider East Asia. 

Prior to his career in scholarship, in his hometown of Aberdeen, he worked as a musician and DJ, performing on the local jazz/funk/soul circuit as well as throughout Scotland and London over a ten-year period. He formed part of the trio The Mindset, along with fellow producers Gordon Ritchie and Mike Duguid, releasing two tracks for Acid Jazz and Afro Art records in 2002 and 2004. During his undergraduate studies in Aberdeen, he worked as an Assistant Curator at the university’s world-renowned Marischal Museum, where his long-held interest in Japan grew. After obtaining his M. Litt in Museum Studies, in which he undertook a case study of Aberdeen’s Glover House, the familial home of Thomas Black Glover, he was awarded the Monbukagakusho Scholarship from the Japanese government in 2007. For the next three years, he attended Kobe University as a Research Student focusing on Kobe’s foreign community before moving on to begin a career teaching English at several universities and high schools in Osaka and Kobe. 

In 2013 he obtained an International Postgraduate Research Scholarship from the University of Sydney which enabled him to complete his doctoral studies in Australia. In 2015 he was awarded the Japan Study Grant from the National Library of Australia, in Canberra, to research foreign social networks in Kobe and Osaka. During his doctoral studies, he was affiliated with the University of Sydney’s Centre for English Teaching, where he taught for over five years. In 2018 he took on the role of Associate Lecturer in the School of Access Education in Central Queensland University’s Sydney campus.