Spring 2021 CJS Chair's Greetings

January 25, 2021

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Junko HabuI hope the beginning of the new semester is treating you well! Watching the inauguration last week, many of us reaffirmed our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and social and environmental justice at this time of rapidly changing sociopolitical conditions. For the Spring 2021 semester, the Center for Japanese Studies is hosting a series of exciting online events, many of which will contribute towards realizing these goals. For the sake of the online audience’s attention span, we will keep our lectures and symposia shorter than usual, but without sacrificing time for extensive discussion.

We are taking full advantage of our virtual setting to invite many speakers on the East Coast and the other side of the Pacific Ocean. For example, in April, Steven Vogel (Dept. of Political Science) will bring a group of scholars together for a book panel to celebrate the publication of The Political Economy of the Abe Government and Abenomics ReformsIn collaboration with the San Francisco Office of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), our CJS-JSPS international conference on March 19-20 focuses on the intersection of agriculture, environmental justice, and traditional Japanese concepts such as satoyama (human-impacted rural landscapes) and iriaiken (collective ownership of non-arable land).

March 11 of this year marks the 10th anniversary of the 3.11 Great East Japan Earthquake, Tsunami and the Fukushima Nuclear Power Accident, and we know that many people in the Bay Area are eager to learn about what is happening with people and areas that were heavily affected by the triple disasters. Speakers in our special event commemorating this important day include Mark Bookman of the University of Pennsylvania, whose talk focuses on disability and the aftermath of the 3.11 disaster, and Mayumi Fukunaga of the University of Tokyo.

CJS benefits from active collaborations with overseas institutions and various units on campus. The April lecture by Shinya Konaka of the University of Shizuoka became possible due to our long-standing international memorandum of understanding with the University of Shizuoka developed by Keiko Yamanaka (Dept. of Ethnic Studies). On February 18, Kazuyo Nishihara, a visiting student from Kyoto University, is giving a talk on Japanese basketry jointly organized with the Phoebe Hearst Museum.

We are delighted to announce a new, 15-minute talk series called Aspects of Japanese Studies. The idea is to ask CJS faculty, graduate students and alumni to present a casual 15-minute online talk on their current work or key research topics in Japanese Studies, followed by questions and answers. The recordings will be posted on the CJS website to showcase the research being done by members of the CJS community. In late February and early March, Anna Nielsen (Dept. of Anthropology), Andrew Leong (Dept. of English) and Dan O’Neill (Dept. of East Asian Languages and Cultures) will be giving the first three talks in this series. Several others have also volunteered to take part in this new adventure, including History of Art alumnus Carl Gellert, in April. We are still accepting additional proposals for this series.

This month, we welcome our new Shinjo Ito Post-Doctoral Fellow, Marta Sanvido. She received her Ph.D. from Ca’ Foscari University of Venice in 2019, and her dissertation title was “Universes of the Mind, Geographies of the Body, Logics of the World. Five-positions (goi) Epistemology in Premodern Sōtō School.” Despite tighter travel restrictions due to COVID-19, we are expecting eight new visiting scholars and students from Japan within the next six months.

I look forward to seeing you at many of the CJS events that we will host during this semester and interacting with colleagues, students, old friends and new visitors!

We invite you to become a part of our efforts to promote the further development of Japanese Studies at UC Berkeley. There are many ways to participate, and all level contributions are welcome. Please feel free to contact CJS if you wish to make a donation.

Best regards,
Junko Habu
Chair, Center for Japanese Studies
Tomoye Takahashi Endowed Chair in Japanese Studies