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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien
Ralf Windhab

Ralf Windhab

Ralf Windhab
Since July 2024

Ralf Windhab began practicing judo at a very young age, which soon sparked his interest in Japanese culture and language. While still in school, he began teaching himself Japanese. After an exchange year at the Neyagawa high school in Osaka and a few years at the Vienna University of Economics and Business and the University of Vienna, he worked for several years as a tour guide for Japanese guests and then as a translator and interpreter. He completed his studies at the University of Vienna in 2020. For his master’s thesis, he examined the manga classic Sazae-san, focusing on how food, its availability or shortage, procurement, preparation, and consumption are thematized. By examining the entire, almost thirty-year period of the series’ publication (1946-1974), numerous changes were also identified. This study allowed him to delve deeply into the theoretical foundations of manga analysis and develop his own systematic and productive methodological approach.

In his dissertation project with the working title “The Cooking Man – Representations of Men Engaged in Household Activities in Japanese Manga”, Ralf Windhab is mainly investigating how men working in the household are portrayed in manga and whether there are noticeable changes in these depictions over a longer period of time.

Although manga are omnipresent in Japan, represent a significant economic factor and, as an important part of the Japanese media landscape and popular culture, have a formative effect on opinion and lifestyle, there is still a considerable need for catching up in Japanese studies with regard to manga research. This dissertation project therefore represents an important contribution to the field of manga research and is situated at the intersection with gender studies, and in particular the field of men’s studies. Over the past three decades, Japanese media productions have primarily been examined regarding the construction of hegemonic images of ‘femininity,’ the identification of counter-images, and their implications for social change. In contrast, very few studies have focused on analyzing the media constructions of ‘masculinities,’ clearly indicating a research gap, particularly in the field of manga research.