Japanese Studies

Research projects of the School of Asian Studies.

Warrior Ethics in Japan – Bushidô as intellectual history

Duration: 2 years
Nature: NWO
Project members: Goto-Jones

This projects aims to provide an intellectual history of the field of ‘bushidô’ (warrior ethics) in Japan, with a focus on modern Japan, and with a comparative orientation.  It aspires to produce a second, more explicitly comparative project on warrior ethics East & West.

Asiascape – Contemporary East Asia Media Centre

Duration: 3 years
Nature: NWO (Internationalization) and IIAS and Toshiba International Foundation
Project members: Chris Goto-Jones, Ivo Smits, Kasia Cwiertka (Leiden); Thomas Lamarre (McGill); Susan Napier (Tufts); Lockyer (SOAS); Williams (Leeds); Takayuki (Keio)

 This project aims to create a research hub for the study of East Asian technoculture, particularly with a focus on politics and philosophy.  It is explicitly engaged in building an international network to organise this new field and to place Leiden at its hub.

European Academic Network in Modern Japan Studies

Duration: 3 years
Nature: Japan Foundation
Project members: Goto-Jones (Leiden); Hook (Sheffield); Williams (Leeds); Waldenburger (Munich)

This project is designed to conduct a survey of the ‘state of the field’ in modern Japan Studies in Europe, to highlight areas in need of further investment, and to build new networked institutions (on a European basis) to meet those needs.

Beyond Utopia – New Politics, the Politics of Knowledge, and the Science Fictional Field of Japan

Duration: 2009-2014
Nature: NWO Vici
Project leader: Chris Goto-Jones
Project members: Goto-Jones plus 3 AiOs and 2 Post-docs (plus additional AiO, funded by IIAS)

Recognizing that, since the end of the Cold War, political theorists around the world have embarked upon a deliberate quest for difference and innovation in their discipline, triggered by the apparently ‘world historic’ victory of liberal capitalism, this project aims to uncover a series of sites of difference and innovation.  In particular, it locates itself in two kinds of distancing: geo-cultural (ie. in the non-European space of Japan) and medial (ie. in innovative expressive media).  Utilizing the ‘techno-media’ of anime, manga and videogames, and focusing on the radical potentials of the genre of speculative science fiction, this project aims to analyze and model a series of political visions as potential alternatives to liberal capitalism, hence contributing to the field of political thought.

Furthermore, acknowledging that these widely popular techno-medial products utilize different grammars of expression from conventional, text-based media, this project seeks to formulate a research methodology for scholars to employ for critical interventions into these fields.  Accepting that the dimensions of the public sphere change with time and technological developments, and hypothesizing that the public sphere in many contemporary societies is now informed by this techno-politics, at stake is the ability of scholars to remain in touch with (and persuasive in) political realities: new forms of literacy are required if scholars seek to remain involved in the new public sphere.  This project attempts to outline those forms of literacy, as implied by the rapidly globalizing force of Japanese anime, manga and videogames.

Early-modern, intellectual confrontations with ‘commercial society’

Duration: 2 years
Nature: NWO (Rubicon)
Project members: Goto-Jones ( Leiden) David Mervart (Tokyo)

Abstract: “My main interest is the history of 18th-century intellectual confrontation with the workings of countrywide and global markets, or the rise of the “commercial society”, and its moral and political consequences. From this perspective, I have tried to bring together the enquiries into the history of thought of early modern Japan and Europe. That is potentially a vast project and my current dissertation can at best lay the groundwork for more exploration. I believe such comparative perspective not only furthers our understanding of things Japanese and Asian and renders it more relevant, but significantly contributes to the fields of history of political ideas and intellectual history in general. It also provides an insight into one important phase of the ongoing story of the complex relations between one particular set of political notions, which originated at the western tip of Eurasia and with the global modernity gradually embraced the whole planet, and other political discourses which remained local, often despite their high sophistication and universalist appeal.” (Mervart)

Modern East Asia Research Centre (MEARC)

Duration: 3 years initially (2006-2008) - extended till at least end 2009
Nature: LU Board of Directors through Faculty of Humanities
Project leader: Goto-Jones ( Leiden), A. Schneider (Leiden)

Abstract: The aim of MEARC is to become the European hub of genuinely disciplinary and multi-disciplinary research on East Asia, in order to build bridges between the so-called ‘Area Studies’ and conventional disciplines such as Politics, History and Philosophy. It will achieve this through (support of) lectures, workshops, conferences, and publication of peer-reviewed books and articles and by the provision of research grants.

In Search of the Japanese Family: Modernity, Social Change, and Women's Lives in Contemporary Japan

Duration: January-December 2009
Nature: NWO Replacement (Vervangings) Subsidy
Project leader: Mw.Dr. Aya Ezawa

Abstract: This book project explores the changing dynamics of marriage and family life in postwar Japan based on an examination of the life histories of single mothers. Using an interdisciplinary approach, my project seeks to contribute to an understanding of the processes which have shaped family life in twentieth century Japan, and thereby extend existing theories of the modern family. To explore these processes, my analysis relies on life history interviews I conducted with divorced and unmarried single mothers in Tokyo.

Single mothers provide unique insight into the changing dynamics of family life in Japan, as women who have to the most part directly experienced marriage and the normative ideal of family as married wives and mothers, but who have also been marginalized by the same ideal as single mothers. Their stories allow us to see the pressures women face in getting married and becoming a mother, and how women's lives are shaped by family norms. Their personal experiences and perspectives also allow insight into the ways in which women respond to, resist and reinterpret the meaning of family in contemporary Japan.

In examining both the character and operation of family norms, as well as their negotiation in everyday life, I hope to contribute to an understanding of the complex interactions between family, modernity and social change in contemporary Japan.

Sustaining Total War: Militarisation, Economic Mobilisation and Social Change in Japan and Korea (1931-1953)

Duration: 2008-2013
Nature: NWO Vidi
Project leader: Kasia Cwiertka
Project members: -

Abstract: This project deals with the question as to how the Asian-Pacific War (1931-1945) and the Korean War (1950-1953) influenced the Japanese and Korean societies, by studying the production, distribution, preparing and consumption of food during these periods, assuming that changes in these processes also brought about changes in the social environment.

Historical Consciousness and the Future of Modern China and Japan: Conservatism, Revisionism, and National Identity

Duration: ~2009
Nature: NWO Vici
Project leader: Axel Schneider and Rikki Kersten
Project members: The principal researchers are Prof. dr. Rikki Kersten and Prof. dr. Axel Schneider. They lead a team of comparative scholars, including three Ph.D candidates and two postdoctoral researchers

Abstract: This project seeks to deliver a study of the conservative and revisionist reinterpretation of tradition and its impact on the creation of national and political identity in modern China and Japan. It is a comparative study, and as such, one that promises to enhance our knowledge not only of historical thought and ideas about history in these two countries, but also, how thinking in each country about the past has influenced that phenomenon in the other country. The main outcome will be a monograph on Historical Consciousness in Modern China and Japan, co-authored by the principle researchers. In addition to the workshop and conference proceedings, there will be three PhDs (from the AIOs) and two draft monographs (from the Postdocs). The most exciting outcome will be the development of a cohort of comparative scholars, who are able to engage in the comparative study of modern China and modern Japan.

Last Modified: 09-12-2015