Engaging with Japanese Studies revisiting the question of why Japan matters
This conference aims to engage scholars and public figures working on ‘Japan’ as a field of study in a reflexive discussion on the state and future of Japanese Studies, specifically to reconsider ‘why Japan matters’. This question has been a recurrent theme for those in the field. Why and how has it been answered over time? Who gets to define why Japan matters? How can we situate and understand the present situation of Japanese Studies in larger patterns of discourse? Perhaps, China’s rising power as well as the restructuring of area studies with increased regional integration may have some impact on answers to these questions. The crises following the 3-11 disasters have ironically brought attention back to Japan in new dimensions of research, and it may be possible to envisage the present moment as a critical point to redefine the meaning and role of ‘Japanese Studies’ internationally.
Unlike several decades ago, today’s academics in the field must rigorously face such questions as what contributions their own research on Japan can make to the disciplines concerned, and how; how meaningful the research can be for people who only have minor interest in Japan, or for Japanese people (including scholars) who may not read works that are not written in Japanese. Knowledge on Japan written in languages other than Japanese has richly accumulated in the last decades; nonetheless, we are still struggling to answer these questions with firm persuasion. As Japan’s position in the global context has been changing, answers to the question of ‘why Japan matters’ have changed accordingly; younger scholars’ views on and experiences in Japanese Studies have thus become more important to understand the present and future state of Japanese Studies. It is therefore expected that this conference will evoke intergenerational dialogues between scholars across different institutions from different countries, which will shed new light on the ‘why Japan matters’ question through contrasting different views on Japan in the past, present, and future.
Supported by the Nippon Foundation, Japan Foundation Endowment Committee, the Oxford Sasakawa Fund, the Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies and the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation
Registration for the conference has now closed.