Anne Mette Fisker-Nielsen
1) Anthropological insights rooted in first-hand research that focus on the subtleties of micro-level interactions and qualitative research that combines an investigation into conceptual frameworks of peoples’ worldviews; and 2) broader sociological research findings and historical studies to situate issues within a broader context. In this way, the student will develop a capacity for undertaking an erudite analysis of our contemporary world by linking micro- and macro-levels and situating knowledge within its historical and contemporary, usually globalized context. With a focus on Japan, we study social and political issues including issues of identity and emotions, gender and performance, historical memory and geopolitics, migration and minorities, consumption and stratification, media and public discourse, political and religious movements, populism and identity politics. The student will acquire conceptual and analytical ability to undertake a comprehensive social investigation into contemporary social issues which are mostly very complex. Learning how to analyze social phenomena in an in-depth manner, the Major in Global Japan Studies looks specifically at Japanese society but in a global context and through a comparative framework. Analytical skills acquired are rooted in a social anthropological approach and can be applied across other social contexts as well. Students will be assessed through essays and class participation and presentations, and over the two years of weekly seminars, they will acquire solid academic writing and public speaking skills. Significantly, the student will acquire new creative ways of thinking through the complexities of our contemporary world.
Typical Requirements for taking the Major in Global Japan Studies are 1) Completed Global Japan Studies (Understanding Japanese Society) and/or Human and Society (Japanese Culture and Society); 2) have completed Sociology 1 (Intellectual foundations of the social sciences). Students are recommended to take Comparative Culture 1: Cultural Diversity and Similarities and Comparative Culture 2: Globalisation and Nationalism; and Sociology 2 (History of Sociology and Contemporary Issues). Other recommended courses are Introduction to Philosophy, Introduction to Politics, and other Social Science course, Literary and History courses in either English or Japanese.
The Major in Global Japan Studies is also a major in sociology/anthropology with a particular focus on Japan and Japanese society. Issues are studied from within as well as considered from a broader global perspective that takes accounts of history while engaging with sociological and anthropological studies and theories. For the first two semesters (Year 3), we base our weekly seminars partly on selected chapters from Brian McVeigh's book Interpreting Japan, and partly on additional ethnographic material which will be given in class. We study in detail the re-evaluation of the anthropological/sociological debates about Japan in the light of contests over orientalism, problems of representation, and look closely at the reality of Japan as a multi-cultural and diverse society whose nation-state history is still passionately debated.
Based on foundations courses taken in Year 1 and Year 2, in Year 3 when the Major begins we consider in detail debates about "Japan" and "Japanese culture" and how this relates to the formation of and continuous re-creation of the nation-state project. We consider the rise of modern Japan, how what becomes constituted as "secular" and "religious" becomes a central political ideology, and the workings of modern bureaucracy, mass media, and education to newfound concepts of citizenship and identity in pre- and postwar Japan. Underpinning the nation-state project is a re-imagining of Self and Other, a highly gendered project, that is under contemporary evaluation and change. We consider migration to and from Japan, and Japan as a global player in the international arena today.
We also study broader macro-level processes against theories about everyday embodiment, norms and ritualized conduct that link the macro- and the micro levels, and how "normal" behavior is often the crucial arena of change. We look at issues of identity, emotions, and historical memory through various social, economic and political practices and current initiatives within practices of consumption, migration, "othering" in politics, religious and civil society social engagement, and wider demographic and family changes. We also consider the mass and social media from the perspective of not merely reflecting reality but directly participate in constructing our framing of contemporary issues.
In term 3 and 4, we begin by looking at wider flows and processes of current nationalism and populist politics, and the student develops further their own specific research interest, learn to develop a research design, undertake appropriate research, and write up a graduation thesis based on that.
Selected reading list:
Graburn, et.al. (eds). 2010. Multiculturalism in the New Japan: Crossing the Boundaries Within. New York: Berghahn Books.
Hashimoto, Akiko 2015. The Long Defeat: Cultural Trauma, Memory and Identity, Orford: Oxford University Press
Mathews, Gorden and White, Bruce (eds.). 2004. Japan’s Changing Generations: Are young people creating a new society? London: RoutledgeCurzon.
McVeigh, Brian J. 2014. Interpreting Japan. London & New York: Routledge.
Robertson, Jennifer (ed.). 2005. A Companion to the Anthropology of Japan. Oxford: Blackwell.
Sugimoto, Yoshio (ed.) 2009. The Cambridge Companion to Modern Japanese Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Rausch, Anthony (2014) Japanese Journalism and the Japanese newspapers. Amherst, New York: Teneo//press.