Events and Activities
The signature designs featured on Amami Ōshima tsumugi textiles today are so intricate that they can resemble shimmering pixels on a computer screen. Even though designers have been confined to the geometry of squares, the patterns appearing on these textiles have changed remarkably over time. Why? This talk reflects upon recent fieldwork conducted in Amami Ōshima driven by this simple question. Study of the dynamic process of textile production illuminates the complicated archipelagic location between Kagoshima and Okinawa that has informed Ōshima tsumugi production and trade. Tracing how weavers themselves scrutinized the notion of Amami Ōshima tsumugi enables critical contextualization of the postwar consumption of Amami Ōshima tsumugi by the “mainland” relative to the preservation of archipelagic knowledge and livelihood. Details and registration here
Lisa Onaga, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science / DIJ Tokyo
Job opening: Research Fellow in Asian Infrastructures at NUS
The Asia Research Institute (ARI) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) invites applications for one Research Fellowship (Postdoctoral/Research Fellow) in Asian Infrastructures. This position is funded by a new research partnership between the DIJ and ARI which was concluded in July 2022. The position is based at NUS and the successful applicant is expected to commence duties in January 2023, or as soon as possible thereafter. Applicants are expected to hold a PhD degree (or awaiting conferment) and have research interests in a relevant area of the social sciences and a record of publication (or potential to deliver) in high impact journals and/or reputable publishing houses. The initial appointment will be for a period of two years, with the possibility of renewal for two more years. For more details on this position and the application procedure see here
New Working Paper studies East and Southeast Asian perspectives on Russia’s war on Ukraine
How have societies in East and Southeast Asia reacted to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine? This open access collection of essays provides preliminary answers from Japan, Thailand, the Philippines, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and ASEAN. Focusing on press and social media, they reveal that the responses to the war are heterogeneous and may not always agree with the foreign policy stances by the respective governments. The essays are published as Working Paper No. 135 in the East Asian Studies series (Institute of East Asian Studies, University of Duisburg-Essen), edited by DIJ’s David M. Malitz and Surachanee Sriyai (Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok). David’s own paper (“Strong Public Support for the Japanese Responses to the Russian Invasion of Ukraine”) outlines the Japanese government’s economic sanctions, delivery of equipment to Ukraine, and acceptance of Ukrainian refugees. Against the background of the strained Japanese-Russian relations, it explains why the public in Japan has been supportive of Ukraine and of these responses by the government.
New article on romantic and familial relationships in Japanese TV dramas
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on love, marriage, and family life. Employing both social science and cultural studies perspectives, this new article by DIJ social scientist Nora Kottmann, Forum Mithani, and DIJ alumna Elisabeth Scherer discusses romantic and familial relationships and their respective depictions in four Japanese romantic dramas (ren’ai dorama) produced under pandemic conditions. The article touches upon the COVID-19 pandemic and related policies in Japan, elaborates on conditions of TV production during the pandemic, and asks: How have TV series addressed love, dating and (marital) relationships during the pandemic? “Screening Love: Relational practices in Japanese TV dramas produced during the COVID-19 pandemic” (Japan Focus: The Asia-Pacific Journal 20 (14/3): 1–21) identifies a trend consistent with ‘re-traditionalization’ on the one hand, and depictions of diverse, unconventional relational practices that are critical of the marital institution on the other. It is available open access.
Firms in many advanced economies practice flexible retrenchment strategies to react to a crisis or to adjust to organisational decline in order to lower labour costs. Building on signalling theory and the neo-institutional and resource-based view, this presentation analyses two research questions: (1) What are the effects of “flexible retrenchment strategies” (such as wage-based and functional flexibility) on investor reactions as compared to “rigid strategies” (such as pure downsizing)? (2) How do a firm’s knowledge assets shape the relationship between investor reactions to flexible strategies as compared to rigid strategies? Using a novel data set of 242 retrenchment announcements by Japanese firms, the study finds that flexible strategies are significantly and positively associated with a higher likelihood that the firm value of retrenchers increases. This suggests that investors perceive flexible strategies as a capability signal, rewarding innovative firms depending heavily on the knowledge of their employees. Details and registration here
Cornelia Storz, Goethe University Frankfurt
Twenty international experts and outstanding Japanese artists will meet at the DIJ in August to discuss how the arts can contribute to overcoming the multiple challenges facing regions in Japan. Since the early 2000s, regional arts projects and festivals have sprung up in many places in rural Japan, including the Triennial in Echigo-Tsumari and the Toyooka theatre festival. Many regions anticipate such events to create new types of social, cultural, and economic capital in the area. The symposium addresses ‘Art in the Countryside’ from an interdisciplinary perspective, including Visual and Performing Arts, Cultural Policy, Tourism Studies, and Social Anthropology. Limited places are available for on-site participation. The event is organised by Gunhild Borggreen (Copenhagen) and DIJ’s Barbara Geilhorn. It is part of their projects on Collaboration and Community Building in Contemporary Art and Local Issues Take Stage – Culture and Community Revitalization, respectively. Details and registration here
Barbara Holthus comments on legacy of Tokyo Olympics
One year ago the Tokyo Olympics were opened. What remains as their legacy? DIJ deputy director Barbara Holthus, who was a volunteer at the Games, commented on the Games’ legacy and Japan’s future Olympic ambitions for an AP article (21 July 2022). “People were so upset that Thomas Bach pushed the Olympics down everybody’s throat without consideration for Japanese sentiments”, she said. “And now they want to it again without asking the people of Sapporo.” But Barbara also noted a positive shift in volunteers’ attitudes towards their involvement in the Games: whereas one year ago many of them “didn’t want to be seen in their neighborhood with the uniform on”, the “bad taste of the uniform now is kind of gone”, she explained. For more information on research related to the Tokyo Olympics, see the DIJ’s special project on the Tokyo Olympics and the open access book publication Japan Through the Lens of the Tokyo Olympics.
New research partnership with Asia Research Institute
DIJ director Franz Waldenberger has signed a new research partnership on Asian infrastructures with the Asia Research Institute (ARI) at the National University of Singapore (NUS). The partnership is interested in infrastructures in a broad sense, focusing on knowledge networks, health and migration infrastructures, transport infrastructures, digital and financial infrastructure networks and nodes as well as China’s Belt and Road Initiative. This new research partnership with ARI replaces the Max Weber Foundation Research Group on Borders, Mobility and New Infrastructures that was established in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at NUS in June 2017. The new DIJ-ARI partnership will be coordinated jointly by ARI director Tim Bunnell, James D. Sidaway (Department of Geography, NUS), and Franz Waldenberger. See also announcement on ARI’s website here