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Joe Nickols explain art in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua. Joe inspiring students with art history.

Art history allows me to explore the complexity and vibrancy of humanity


Joe Nickols (they/them) has recently completed their MA at SOAS, University of London and specialises in East Asia, with a particular focus on Japan and Korea. Joe’s research primarily explores discourse relating to identity construction, queerness, and gender. Their MA dissertation explored the 1920s Japanese anarchic group Mavo and their transgender performance art as an act of political protest. Joe is currently a regular contributor to the SOAS History Blog and more of their articles can be found there, including discussions of gender regulations in Meiji (1868-1912) and Taisho (1912-1926) Japan. Outside of SOAS, Joe has worked internationally in arts education, lecturing in Japan and Italy on various topics. Additionally, Joe is a freelance curator and works closely with contemporary artists on various projects. 

Joe was named as the Sasakawa Scholar for 2023/24 by the Sasakawa Insitute. This was awarded for established research into Mavo and will fund Joe's further research into the movement at SOAS, University of London. 

In May 2023, Joe launched NCLUSIV WORLD, a platform dedicated to celebrating queer and trans arts and culture. Joe developed graphics for empowering apparel as well as producing the NCLUSIV WORLD podcast. Joe has interviewed a number of celebrated queer creatives and pioneers.  

Instagram: @joenickols



Research into representations of gender disruption as political protest in Taisho Japan, SOAS University of London. Sasakawa Scholarhsip awarded for this research in 2023.


MA History of Art/Archaeology (East Asia), SOAS University of London, 2020-21.

BA Japanese Language and History of Art/Archaeology (East Asia), SOAS University of London, 2013-17.

Art Foundation
Central Saint Martins, University of Arts London, 2012-13. 


TOTAL RECALL: Myth and Memory

Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate  

July 13 - October 13 2022


Owl Store, Harrogate  
March 11 - April 9 2022

Routs North: Emerging Northern Talent
Messums North, Harrogate  
January 15 - February 19 2022

David Roberts and Modern British Design

Messums North, Harrogate   

November 19 2021 - January 8 2022

Contemporary Korean Ceramics: Ree Soo Jong and

Lee Hun-Chung
Messums North, Harrogate   

Summer 2021


European Association of Japanese Studies (June 2024) - Selection for the EAJS 20th PhD Workshop

Heinz Kaempfer Fund Thesis Award (May 2024) - Runner Up

Sasakawa Scholarship (2023/24) - Awarded for research into Mavo conducted at SOAS, University of London.



Hong Kong Baptist University (December 2023) - Guest Lecture on "Curatorial Practices"

Stanford University (April 2023) - Guest Art History lecture on "How To Look At Art"



What's in a Banknote? Controlling Legacy and Shaping the Ideal Confucian Woman

SOAS History Blog, July 2023


New Auction

Research, Translations, and writing for bilingual auction catalogue (Japanese and English), New Auction, Tokyo, Japan.  Issue 004, 005, and 006 (2023-24). 

Mavo-Ricks: Transgender Transgressions in 1920s Japan

MA Dissertation for SOAS University of London, 2021. 

The Disrupt Project: Nikki S. Lee and Transcategorical Identities

Post-graduate Research Journal (SOAS), Issue 14, 2022. 

Regulating Bodies: Gender Construction in Japan

SOAS History Blog, June 2022 

Queer Baroque: Nikko Mausoleum

SOAS History Blog, February 2022


English - Native

Japanese - Fluent (CEFR Level C2)

Korean - Elementary 

Italian - Elementary 


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