School of Social Sciences

    • research-ejrc-header_jpg


      Europe Japan Research Centre

  • Podcasts

    Europe Japan Research Centre

    Podcasts from the Europe Japan Research Centre seminar series

    • And I Dance with Somebody: HIV/AIDS Activism, Queer Politics and Performance in 1990s Japan

      Originally recorded 10/12/2020 Recent years have seen an increased focus on global cultural histories of HIV/AIDS of the 1980s and 1990s. However these have tended to focus on the transnational circulation of cultural products, activist networks and people across the North Atlantic, and specifically in the Anglophone world. In this talk marking World AIDS Day, I make some preliminary claims for a greater significance of Japan in a global history of HIV/AIDS of the 1990s. I focus on the events surrounding the first World AIDS Conference held outside Europe and North America (in Yokohama in 1994) and the transnational movements of theatre productions, performance, visual arts and other cultural products in and out of Japan around this time period. Mark Pendleton is Senior Lecturer in Japanese Studies in the School of East Asian Studies at University of Sheffield. He is an editor of the Routledge Companion to Gender and Japanese Culture and has published numerous chapters and articles in journals like Japan Forum and Japanese Studies.
      Mark Pendleton, Senior Lecturer, University of Sheffield

    • Ascetic Ressentiment: Historical Consciousness and Mountain Politics in Northeastern Japan

      In this talk, I will discuss competing streams of historical consciousness in Mount Haguro, a sacred mountain in northeastern Japan known for its mountain ascetic traditions. Applying the notion of ressentiment (historical alienation) to the longue dureé of religious history in Mount Haguro, I demonstrate how contemporary conflicts in the mountain ascetic community are rooted not only in a historic rift between Shintō and Buddhism in the early Meiji period, but in a greater dynamic at play in Japanese religious history between nativism and cosmopolitanism. Shayne A. P. Dahl received his PhD in Sociolinguistic Anthropology at the University of Toronto in 2019. His doctoral research considered recent innovations of Shugendo (mountain asceticism) in Yamagata Prefecture, Japan. In 2017, he produced an ethnographic film, The Buddha Mummies of North Japan, which explored the modern worship and significance of mummified monks in a sacred mountain range called Dewa Sanzan. He has published about post-disaster pilgrimage Dewa Sanzan and is currently writing book manuscript based on his doctoral fieldwork that will explore themes of religion, historical consciousness, and ecology in a post-disaster context.
      Shayne Dahl, Postdoctoral Researcher at McMaster University (Canada)

    • Still life: Scarecrow sociality, economic abandonment, and public curiosity in rural Japan

      In Nagoro, in the middle of Shikoku, close to two hundred scarecrows stand in the farm fields where nothing but weeds now grow; they wait at the bus stop past which busses no longer run; and they sit in an elementary school devoid of human children. Day by day increasing numbers of visitors from urban centers of affluent countries are making the trek to this small town and its inanimate inhabitants. Reflexively following that curiosity, for the past five years I have visited this town, made scarecrows, spent time with long-term inhabitants of the valley, and talked to the tourists and reporters who come to see a fading rural life set against a seemingly natural backdrop of stunning beauty. In this paper, I argue that the economic conditions that enable the hyper-mobility of urban public curiosity are precisely those that push small villages such as this one to the verge of disappearance. A gendered, spatial, and temporal organization of labor and leisure, curiosity and possibility — all global in scope — condense here into the scarecrow. This talk was originally presented on 4th November, 2020. Joseph Hankins is Associate Professor and Vice Chair of Anthropology and Interim Director of Critical Gender Studies at the University of California, San Diego. His research examines the interplay of flow and capture – of goods, people, and political possibility. His first book followed raw cowhide from his hometown in Texas to a tannery in Japan, examining the gendered labor required to reproduce political arguments that Japan is multicultural. His talk is from his second book project on deurbanization and rural imaginaries.
      Joseph D. Hankins, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of California San Diego

    • Transnational Kinship in the Margins of Citizenship: The Case of Nikkei Brazilians in Japan

      Kinship is a restrictive and yet mutable logic by which many nation-states in East Asia nationalize transnational mobility today. This talk elucidates the seemingly paradoxical but deeply systemic stratification of citizenship intensified by kinship-based migrations, by examining the case of Brazilians in contemporary Japan. At first glance, the kin-based incorporation connotes acceptance: “they” are “us.” Yet the partial inclusion grounded on the idiom of blood ironically preserves perpetual exclusion of those migrants who must seek belonging in a corporeal idiom of family. [NOTE: original presentation contained an 8min video in Porteugeuse with English Subtitles. This part has been edited from the audio pending permission from those involved in the video] Suma Ikeuchi is Assistant Professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara. Her first book, "Jesus Loves Japan: Return Migration and Global Pentecostalism in the Brazilian Diaspora", was published by Stanford University Press in 2019.
      Suma Ikeuchi, Assistant Professor Department of East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies, University of California Santa Barbara

    • Producing People Who Have No One: Child Welfare and Well-Being in Japan

      Child welfare and well-being are fragile kin to each other. Such is the case in Japan, where the ethnographic data for this paper originate, but also across the world, as policy makers, caregivers, and people with experience in state care endeavor to imagine—and implement—child welfare systems that truly support well-being. Despite these efforts, social welfare systems too often “produce people who have no one,” in the words of one of my interlocutors. Child welfare policy and practice institutionalize particular visions of kinship relationships, with lasting effects on the people touched by these systems. Some of these systems cultivate the possibility for lasting relationships, and some do not. Relationships can injure and harm, but they can also transform. What are the conditions for a welfare system that nurtures well-being, that produces people who have people? This paper explores how cultural norms surrounding kinship, many deeply connected to national ideologies of Japanese identity, play out when kinship realities diverge from normative expectations surrounding nurturance and care. Originally presented on 21st October, 2020. Kathryn E. Goldfarb is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the Univeristy of Colorado Boulder. Kathryn earned her PhD from the University of Chicago in 2012 and has published widely on kinship, adoption and child welfare in Japan in journals such as Medical Anthropology Quarterly, Japanese Studies and Social Science and Medicine. She is currently preparing a book manuscript titled "Fragile Kinships: Child Welfare and Well Being in Japan"
      Kathryn E. Goldfarb, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Colorado Boulder

    • Anime is (Not) Cult: Gainax and the Limits of Cult Cinema

      Japanese anime, a global phenomenon and a locally powerful industry, has a tendency to be viewed outside Japan in relation to its extreme content, lending it a ‘cult’ air. Through such discussions, it becomes easy to paint all anime as ‘cult’ without ever considering the wider implications of this Euro-American concept for Japanese media texts. Therefore, in this talk, I revisit the relationship between cult and anime in order to examine how and when the term might be useful, taking an industrio-historical view of the relationship between cult and anime. Gainax, one of Japan’s foremost anime companies presents a useful focus for this analysis. Formed out of an amateur collective to become one of the most (in)famous companies in anime history, Gainax has helped to make anime a global phenomenon. Moreover, the founders of Gainax have gone on, in some cases, to become important voices in the debates around how to conceptualise anime. By re-examining the competing discourses around anime and the idea of ‘cult’ media I argue for a more meaningful association between cult and anime. In essence, I argue that cult has only a limited usefulness in relation to anime, despite the fact that our early and main way of defining anime has been through its Euro-American ‘cultification’. This seminar took place at Oxford Brookes University on 22 November 2017.
      Rayna Denison, University of East Anglia, Norwich

    • Aesop’s Fables in Early Modern Japan

      Aesop’s fables bookend early modern Japan’s image of a “closed country”. Their appearance in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, their disappearance and subsequent reappearance in the later nineteenth century, seems to symbolize the bracketing of Japan’s isolation from European literature. However, throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Aesop was never completely absent from Japan. The fables both form a link between the Portuguese-Jesuit heritage and Dutch studies, and go to show that there was an early modern Japanese interest in European discursive practices, however problematic its understanding may have been. This talk will briefly revisit studies of Japanese Aesop reception in the early seventeenth century and deal especially with fairly unknown Japanese interest in European fable literature, chief among them activities by the artist and author Shiba Kōkan (1747–1818). This seminar took place at Oxford Brookes University on 8 November 2017.
      Ivo Smits, University of Leiden

    • “Unhappy” and Isolated Youth: Representations and Experiences of Hikikomori in Contemporary Japan

      Hikikimori is a category coined in the late 1990s to refer to 'youth social withdrawal,' and has been considered a social problem in Japan since the 2000s afflicting (mostly male) youth. Drawing on Mathews and Izquierdo (2009)’s four-dimensional model of well-being, this paper will examine what well-being means for youth in Japan by posting hikikomori as an issue that symbolizes youth ill-being. In so doing, I draw on examinations of media discourses and data from long-term ethnographic fieldwork. I will begin by providing an overview of the hikikomori issue as it is represented in media discourses. Based on this overview, I discuss ways in which youth isolation is problematized in physical, interpersonal, existential, and national/global dimensions of well-being. This seminar took place at Oxford Brookes University on 1 November 2017.
      Sachiko Horiguchi, Temple University Japan Campus, Tokyo

    • Empathy, Social Realism, or just Love Troubles? On Japanese “Little Songs”

      The Edo-period Japan (1603–1868) saw the emergence of an art music genre called Jiuta-sōkyoku. Some of the song texts were taken from classical literature, some were descriptions of nature, some celebratory, and some were songs about the emotions and thoughts of less fortunate women. Especially those in the last category were written for the specific purpose of being song texts, but how can we relate to these songs? In this presentation I give a number of examples and discuss the socio-cultural context in which they came about, and how we could relate to them in the different social context of the present day. This seminar took place at Oxford Brookes University on 25 October 2017.
      Gunnar Linder, Stockholm University

    • The Men Who Came In from the Cold: Japanese Captives in Siberia and the Making of Postwar Japan

      On 15 August 1945, Emperor Hirohito announced Japan’s defeat in the Second World War to millions of his subjects. “Enduring the unendurable”, the nation was now to start on the road of peace and rebuilding. Yet for over 600,000 Japanese soldiers, the war was not to end on that August day. Defeated and captured by the Soviet Red Army in northeast China, these former soldiers were put in freight trains and taken to Soviet forced labour camps. For years they worked in various industries alongside Soviet prisoners and foreign POWs, longing for the day of return to their motherland. They underwent a well-planned propaganda education program that called them to stage a communist revolution upon return to Japan. Perhaps because of this education, they were greeted with suspicion and for many years struggled to take back their rightful place as Japanese citizens. In this talk, I trace the circuitous journey of the ‘Siberian internees’ from Manchuria to the Soviet camps, from camp to camp within the USSR, and finally back to the US-occupied Japan. Based on a large number of archives in Japanese, Russian, and English, I view the internees’ experiences as a transnational phenomenon, an event in global history, and not as a mere chapter in Japan’s recent past as it has been known for decades of postwar history. This seminar took place at Oxford Brookes University on 11 October 2017.
      Sherzod Muminov, University of East Anglia