Past Lectures

Past Lectures

2017 Theme: “Social Division”


Emma Cook (Hokkaido University),
“Broken Bodies: Precarious Labour, Gender and Well-being”

2016 Theme: “Perspectives”


Jennifer Coates (Kyoto University),
“Affective Iconography: Rethinking Post-war Japanese Cinema”

Momoko Nakamura (Kanto Gakuin University),
“Japanese Translation of non-Japanese Speech: Inter-lingual Construction of Gender”

Sven Saaler (Sophia University),
“Politics, Memory and Public Opinion: Coming to Terms with Japan’s Wartime Past”

Avril Haye-Matsui (Aichi Prefectural University),
“Black Women in Japan: Experiences and Perceptions”

Aaron Rio (Minneapolis Institute of Art),
“Building a World Class Collection of Japanese Art in the American Midwest: The Minneapolis Institute of Art at 100”

Broken Bodies: Precarious Labour, Gender and Well-being

June 1, 2017 | Flyer
Speaker: Emma Cook, Hokkaido University

Emma Cook, Hokkaido University

“In that job, I broke my body (karada wo kowashita)” explained Yoshio-san. To ‘break the body’ was a term that was typically used to indicate a physical breakdown or physical manifestations of illness and exhaustion as the result of long-standing stress, difficult working relationships, long hours of work, and lack of sleep. Such experiences were generally narrated as a consequence of overwork but also as a result of character and cultural imperatives to do their best (ganbaru) and endure (gaman) their situation. For some, working part-time – for a limited time – provided respite from the labour pressures experienced in full-time jobs. Yet, part-time work was not a safe space in which bodies are not broken. Indeed, the precariousness and low wages of irregular labour, exploitative company practices, and a culture of gaman and ganbaru, can push workers to the point of breakage. This paper explores what it means to have and experience a ‘broken’ body, how precarious labour can precipitate breakages, the affects on physical and emotional well-being, and the role that gendered understandings of labour plays in experiences and narratives of broken bodies.

Emma E. Cook is a social anthropologist with interests ranging from gender, employment, family, and intimacy to food, health, risk, emotion and well-being. She has published articles in Japanese Studies, Asian Anthropology, Social Science Japan Journal and Asian Journal of Social Science, and in 2016 published a monograph titled: Reconstructing Adult Masculinities: Part-time Work in Contemporary Japan, London: Routledge. Her current research, funded by a JSPS Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C) is titled: ‘When Food is Risky: Food Allergies in Japan and the UK’ and it cross-culturally explores the social, embodied and affective experiences of food allergies in Japan and the UK.

Affective Iconography: Rethinking Post-war Japanese Cinema

January 19, 2017 | Flyer
Speaker: Jennifer Coates, Kyoto University

Jinnifer Coates, Kyoto University

The Japanese film industry produced up to 500 films per year in the two decades after 1945. Film content in this ‘golden age’ was highly repetitive, and yet scholarship on the era tends to focus on outstanding works, auteurs, or performances. This talk approaches the peak period of film production and viewership from a different angle, analysing repeated tropes across a wide range of genres to investigate why viewers returned again and again to repetitive content at the cinema. Drawing from contemporary affect theory as well as archival materials, this interdisciplinary study takes an iconographic approach to reading film content. Considering broader trends across popular cinema suggests a fresh approach to historical and sociological questions in post-war Japan.

Jennifer Coates is a Program-Specific Assistant Professor at the Hakubi Center for Advanced Research and the Graduate School of Letters, Kyoto University. She is the author of Making Icons: Repetition and the Female Image in Japanese Cinema, 1945-1964 (Hong Kong University Press, 2016).

Japanese Translation of non-Japanese Speech: Inter-lingual Construction of Gender

November 15, 2016 | Flyer
Speaker: Momoko Nakamura, Kanto Gakuin University

Momoko Nakamura

Photo by Ankit Panda

This talk will discuss how Japanese translation of the speech of non-Japanese people constructs Japanese gender. While Japanese femininity and masculinity are often defined by their differences from non-Japanese counterparts, the talk will demonstrate that translation plays a crucial role in constructing and maintaining ideal Japanese gender by creating a particular relationship with non-Japanese gender.

Japanese translators use different linguistic styles to translate the speech of non-Japanese speakers. Focusing on female and male speech styles, this talk shows how these gendered styles have been used to translate the speech of non-Japanese speakers. The translated speech of heroines from Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind to Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone has been rendered into the stereotypical female style. In contrast, the translated speech of laidback men like Brandon and Dylan in the popular TV drama, Beverly Hills, 90210, has been translated not into male style but into a peculiar style rarely used by Japanese men.

The talk concludes with the discussion of how the distinctive use of gendered styles serves to define Japanese gender in its relationship with non-Japanese gender.

Momoko Nakamura, Ph.D. is Professor of English at Kanto Gakuin University. Her recent publications include Gender, Language and Ideology (2014), Onnakotoba to Nihongo [Women’s Language and Japanese] (2012), Onnakotoba wa tsukurareru [Constructing Women’s Language] (2007), and Sei to Nihongo [Sex and Japanese] (2007). She has contributed chapters to The Handbook of Language, Gender, and Sexuality (2014), The Political Economy of Affect and Emotion in East Asia (2014), Femininity, Feminism and Gendered Discourse (2010), The Language and Sexuality Reader (2006), and Japanese Language, Gender, and Ideology (2004).

Politics, Memory and Public Opinion: Coming to Terms with Japan’s Wartime Past

October 14, 2016 | Flyer
Speaker: Sven Saaler, Sophia University

Sven Saaler

In the 1980s and 1990s, Japanese diplomatic initiatives aimed at promoting regional reconciliation and the “coming to terms” with the nation’s wartime past were given high priority by a string of cabinets. After a decade that can be described as the “Golden Age of Reconciliation,” in recent years priorities seem to shift once again. This talk will address the debates about the historical memory of the Asia-Pacific War (1931-45) by looking at changes in government declarations as well as popular attitudes towards war responsibility and interpretations of the past.

Sven Saaler is Associate Professor of Modern Japanese History at Sophia University. After earning a Ph.D. in Japanese Studies and history from Bonn University, he was Lecturer at Marburg University, Head of the Humanities Section of the German Institute for Japanese Studies (DIJ) and Associate Professor at The University of Tokyo (2004-2008) and is co-author/co-editor of Pan-Asianism in Modern Japanese History (Routledge, 2007), The Power of Memory in Modern Japan (Global Oriental, 2008), Pan-Asianism: A Documentary History (2 vols., Rowman & Littlefield, 2011), Under Eagle Eyes: Lithographs, Drawings and Photographs from the Prussian Expedition to Japan, 1860-61 (in German, Japanese and English, 2011), Images in Japanese-German Relations (forthcoming, 2016) and The Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese History (forthcoming, 2017). ). His research has been published in English, German and Japanese and translated into Korean, Chinese, French and Turkish.

Black Women in Japan: Experiences and Perceptions

July 1, 2016 | Flyer
Speaker: Avril Haye-Matsui, Aichi Prefectural University

Avril Haye-Matsui

Professor Haye-Matsui will speak about the experiences of black women living in Japan. Her research looks at Japan through the eyes of its foreign residents and provides an alternative perspective of the foreign experience in Japan. This presentation will focus on issues of identity, motherhood, perceptions of beauty and diversity and raises questions about belonging and how and why non-Japanese women are able to create close knit communities, raise families and achieve business success in Japan.

Avril Haye-Matsui has lived and worked in Japan for over two decades. She currently works at Aichi Prefectural University and is co-creator of the organization Black women in Japan that now boasts over 1000 members.

Building a World Class Collection of Japanese Art in the American Midwest: The Minneapolis Institute of Art at 100

April 18, 2016 | Flyer
Speaker: Aaron Rio, Minneapolis Institute of Art

Aaron Rio

A century since its founding, the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) maintains a collection of Japanese art that includes nearly 8,000 works ranging from prehistoric to contemporary, placing it among the top five collections in the United States. Mia's permanent display space for Japanese art--fifteen galleries and nearly 1,000 square meters--is the largest in the Western world. The museum has held dozens of special exhibitions focused on the arts of Japan. Yet the museum, its collection, and its story are relatively unknown in Japan. This talk will introduce Mia and its Japanese collection, examine how in one century a museum in America's Upper Midwest was able to build one of the top collections of Japanese art outside of Japan, and explore how the taste of individual donors has impacted the perspective of Japan and its arts offered to museumgoers.

Aaron Rio is Andrew W. Mellon Assistant Curator of Japanese and Korean Art at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. He earned his PhD (2015) in Japanese art history from Columbia University. His speciality is in medieval Japanese painting.