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Research into Japanese society: Reflections from three projects involving students as researchers during the COVID-19 pandemic

OPEN ACCESS book publication

Sebastian Polak-Rottmann & Antonia Miserka (eds.), Research into Japanese society: Reflections from three projects involving students as researchers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Vienna: University of Vienna, 2023.

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    Research into Japanese society: Reflections from three projects involving students as researchers during the COVID-19 pandemic

    How to do fieldwork during the pandemic? And how can students be involved as active researchers? This volume collects three group projects from Sophia University, the University of Vienna and FU Berlin that involve students as researchers at different stages in their academic lives. In all three cases, students actively participated in gathering data for a group project and reflected on their experiences. This book emphasises that students, rather than being mere receivers of knowledge, may also actively contribute to academic research and be part of the collaborative production of knowledge. The articles in this volume also show how research as a team had to be adjusted, but nevertheless could be conducted despite the troubling circumstances of a pandemic.
    The individual articles of the publication and the entire book can be accessed online (open access) at For print versions of the book (25 EUR), please send an email including your order and your shipping address to

    Table of Contents

    Introduction - Sebastian Polak-Rottmann & Antonia Miserka

    Part 1—Giving students something worth researching: Involving undergraduate students in research at Sophia University

    Giving students something worth researching - David H. Slater (Project advisor)

    Positionality in student research with an African refugee: Negotiating successful interviewing through student mentoring as senpai - Ayano Soma (Student)

    Shifting perspectives under political stress: Interviewing Burmese students stranded in Japan - Thaw Tar (Student)

    Understanding vulnerabilities virtually: Oral narrative research on a Syrian refugee amid the COVID-19 pandemic - Megumi Faith Mallari (Student)

    Part 2—Experiencing rural Japan through remote fieldwork: Involving undergraduate and graduate students in research at the University of Vienna

    Rural spaces, remote methods—the virtual Aso Winter Field School 2022 - Hanno Jentzsch & Sebastian Polak-Rottmann (Project advisors)

    Training for fieldwork in Japan at home: Reflections on the 2022 D Summer Field School - Wolfram Manzenreiter (Project advisor)

    Loneliness in Aso: Community-building against ageing, depopulation and pandemic influences - Katja Palaszewski, Stefan Pöllitzer, Hannah Pilar Egger & Tobias Simek (Student project)

    Tanoshimi ga nakunatta: Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on social activities in the Aso region - Johanna Mayr, Lenka Miyanohara & Benedikt Schultz (Student project)

    The potential of remote areas—the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the disaster-prone tourism sector of the Aso region in Japan - Wilhelm Man Donko, Melanie Steinbrugger, Max Fortin (Student project)

    The promotion of migration through the local Chiiki okoshi kyōryokutai in Minamiaso - Rabia Deveci, Kaloyan Ivanov & Juliana Neuninger (Student project)

    Part 3—Urban-rural migration and rural revitalization in Japan: Involving PhD students in research at Freie Universität Berlin

    Studying rural Japan with PhD students during a global pandemic: Experiences from the research project “Urban-rural migration and rural revitalisation in Japan” - Cornelia Reiher (Project advisor)

    Overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic: Lessons learned from joining a group project in times of turbulence - Tu Thanh Ngo (Student)

    Adapting schedules and learning to collaborate: Reflections on a PhD experience in a group project during the pandemic - Cecilia Luzi (Student)

    Part 4—Book Talk

    Cosmopolitan rurality and changing life in rural Japan - John W. Traphagan talking with Sebastian Polak-Rottmann