Center for Japanese Studies Spring 2021 Events

February 28, 2021

[Aspects of Japanese Studies] Archaeology and Landscape in Japan's Kofun Period: Examining the Past to Protect the Future
February 17, 2021
Anna Nielsen, UC Berkeley Student

The Japanese archipelago, with its rugged landscapes of mountains and rivers, is prone to many unexpected catastrophes involving water, including floods, typhoons, and tsunamis. In the Kofun period (about 250-550 CE), early state-level societies developed increasingly complex mechanisms to prevent or mitigate natural disasters that threatened them.

Using both traditional and cutting-edge techniques to peer into the past, we can explore several intriguing questions. How did ancient people develop new technologies to control water and build the first centralized polities in the Japanese archipelago? In what ways can we see traces of the past in the modern landscapes of Japan? How can we apply what we learn to environments we see around the world? And most importantly, how can knowledge of the past help us understand and prevent water-related natural disasters that occur today?

Basketry and Plant Use in Prehistoric Japan: Continuity and Change in the Production and Use of Rural Japanese Baskets
February 18, 2021
Kazuyo Nishihara, Kyoto University

What can basketry tell us about relationships between people and their environments? Join archaeologist Kazuyo Nishihara for a discussion about basketry and plant use in prehistoric Japan during the Jomon period (approximately 16,000-2500 years ago). This presentation will explore the importance of traditional ecological knowledge and the ways people utilize local knowledge to steward their environments in a mutually beneficial way. Recent land stewardship discussions have drawn more attention within and outside the academic community, as has been seen in the conversations regarding Native American basket weavers. Likewise, weavers in Japan have been managing their surroundings in similar ways. Archaeobotanical studies, which seek to understand human interactions with plants through archaeological evidence, suggest that people in the Jomon period in Japan may have influenced their environment by selectively nurturing raw materials for basket making. Learn about these studies as well as the parallels and differences between the application of archaeological knowledge in Japan and North America.

Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology

[Aspects of Japanese Studies] The Spiritual Foundation for Settler Life: Generational Consciousness and Japanese American Literature, 1917-1925
February 24, 2021
Andrew Leong, UC Berkeley

Generational terms such as “Issei” (first-generation) and “Nisei” (second-generation) did not appear to be in common use in Japanese American immigrant society until the late 1910s and early 1920s. Through closer examination of a digitized corpus of Japanese-language newspapers, we can see how educated immigrant elites began to propagate generational concepts in newspaper editorials starting around 1917. We can also observe the crucial role that newspaper literary contests in 1924 and 1925 played in popularizing and solidifying the use of generational terminology.

[Ten Years Since 3.11 - Part 1] Coping with Disasters: Disability, Vulnerability and New Ties
March 11, 2021
Mark Bookman, University of Pennsylvania
Mayumi Fukunaga, The University of Tokyo

March 11 of this year marks the 10th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami followed by the Fukushima Nuclear Power Accident. The triple disasters hit socially and economically marginalized people particularly hard, including food producers, people with disabilities, families with young children, and evacuees from Fukushima to large cities without adequate compensations. As a research center that studies people, culture, environment, language, and society of Japan, it is critical that we will not only forget the damage caused by the earthquake but also focus on the structural problems behind the 3.11 disasters. We are pleased to host a series of talks that highlight problems, efforts and new ideas since March 2011.

On March 11, we invite two speakers to learn about individuals and groups who have faced various difficulties and challenges when coping with the aftermath of the 3/11 triple disasters. Mark Bookman will focus on the issue of disability after 3/11, and Mayumi Fukunaga will discuss challenges that mothers and children who evacuated from Fukushima are experiencing.

5:00-5:10 Introduction
5:10-5:40 "Disability and Disaster Risk Management: Why Everyone Wins When No One is Left Behind" (see abstract)
- Mark Bookman
5:40-6:10 "Some Snapshot Notes on Efforts to Stay Alive between Disasters" (see abstract)
- Mayumi Fukunaga

[CJS-JSPS Symposium] Agroecology, Sustainable Food Production and Satoyama: Contributions of Japanese Case Studies to the Discussion of Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Environmental Conservation
March 19-20, 2021

This symposium highlights the contributions of Japanese case studies to the current discussion of food safety, environmental conservation, and resilience using the theories and methods of agroecology and related subfields. Agroecology initially started during the 1980s as a discipline of natural science, specifically as the study of ecological phenomena in crop fields for alternative agricultural practice. Today, agroecology is defined as an interdisciplinary research field, with an emphasis on establishing both scientific and social foundations. In this conference, scholars from North America and Japan will present contemporary and historical case studies on agroecology, traditional ecological knowledge and regional landscapes in Japan and other parts of the Pacific region.

Please go to the conference website for more details on speakers, panels, and abstracts:

JSPS San Francisco
Department of Anthropology
Archaeological Research Facility
Berkeley Food Institute