Academic Background: I have a Master of Arts in Japanese History from Columbia University, an ABD in International Education Development from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a PhD in Japanese History from University of Copenhagen.
My research in a nutshell: Working at the United Nations and the Frederick Douglass Academy in New York led me to ask research questions from the vantage point of Japanese history, but with an increasingly global scope. F.ex. ‘Why monolingual dictionaries for all of Japan anno 1879 required a simplification of visions for a Japanese National Language?’ and ‘Why and how Japanese Official Development Assistance is also a global cultural history about expansive networks of private sector employees in countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America?.’ Currently, I am leading a transdisciplinary research project with Danish and Ghanaian researchers, who investigate and discuss the impact of the implementation of a master plan for transport in Ghana – originally prepared by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 2014.
What is your favorite dish from Japan and why? My favorite Japanese dish is Okonomiyaki with mochi, because I enjoy sitting around tables preparing and eating the dish with colleagues and friends in Japan. I particularly like that it is served with Japanese mayonnaise. As a mayonnaise connoisseur, I appreciate the distinctive features of this egg and oil composition in many different parts of the world.
Academic Background: I received a Master’s degree in intercultural communication at San Francisco State University in the States. For many years I have taught business communication and intercultural communication at universities as well as companies in Japan. I have also held workshops on intercultural communication both in Germany and France. Currently, I teach Japanese language from the socio-cultural perspective. It’s been 8 years since I started working at AU.
My research in a nutshell: My research focuses on intercultural communication, intercultural adaptation in particular. Recently, I have been researching how volunteer work experience at the Japanese supplementary school influences the Danish university students’ intercultural adaptation.
If you would not be a researcher, what do you think would be your profession today and why? Broadway musical dancer, definitely!! After retirement, an owner of café with live classical music performance.
Academic Background: I am a trained japanologist with a special focus on political science. I have received both my Master’s as well as my PhD degree from the University of Hamburg in Germany. For many years I have lived in Japan where I have been doing my research and taught at the University of Osaka. Currently I am an Associate Professor at Aarhus University where I have been employed since 2018.
My research in a nutshell: My research deals primarily with Japan’s postwar forein policy. I have been particularly interested in Japan’s nonmilitary instruments that include Official Development Assistance. In the last few years I have been looking at the question of how Japan has been adjusting its foreign policy to the rise of China.
The other part of my research is dedicated to the political economy of the country, in other words the mechanism behind the political decision making. This has been a particularly fascinating topic as the political system has been recently undergoing far-reaching reforms.
Favorite place in Japan: When people think about Japan, Tokyo or Kyoto comes to their mind. However, Japan has much more to offer. My favorite place is Shikoku, one of the four main islands of Japan that is considered very rural. The island that is famous for its 88 temple pilgrimage offers a diverse and breathtaking landscape. People from the little villages still live at their own pace in a strong contrast to the hectic city life. I cannot help but mention the great seafood and vegetables that are offered by this wonderful island.
Academic Background: I have an unconventional background as an academic. I trained in global and transnational histories of philosophy, science, and art through a DPhil in Global History at the University of Oxford (2016-2021) and a BA in History of Art at Goldsmiths, University of London (2005-2008). In between these two degrees, I worked as a contemporary art curator, writer, and manager specializing in cross-disciplinary projects. I ran my own program in London through a multi-year curatorial fellowship funded by Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs. As a young person, I was also involved in activism against social and environmental injustices. My current academic work is informed by the knowledge and practice I gained from various environments both within and beyond the university setting.
My research in a nutshell: My work examines how scientist-polymaths in modern Japan drew on diverse forms of knowledge from both Asian and European lineages and created interdisciplinary paradigms that recognize the inseparable connections between humans and nature. These individuals lived during a time of extraordinary social and environmental change driven by competing visions of “civilizational progress.” However, the dominant idea of “progress” often resulted in increased inequality, racism, and degradation of ecological habitats. The language and methods of producing disciplinary knowledge at modern universities typically emerged within this paradigm. I shed light on the underlying logic of the polymaths’ thoughts and actions, which challenged the boundaries and assumed conventions of this knowledge system.
If you would not be a researcher, what do you think would be your profession today and why? A farm-to-table chef. From maintaining a kitchen garden to learning basic carpentry skills, I love getting my hands dirty to create something precious that can be shared. Cooking is where art, science, and ecology intersect in such a process. My current profession allows me to bring these branches of knowledge together in the form of theoretical reasoning based on concrete evidence. Cooking also elevates this through the tacit conversation of our five senses. While I may remain a historian, I would be excited to collaborate with a like-minded cook to bring these comparable approaches from two different professions together one day!
Academic Background: I have a BA in Chinese Studies with a minor in Japan Studies and an MA in Global area studies (focusing on China) and Japan Studies. Both are from Aarhus University.
My research in a nutshell: Given my educational background, I am highly interested in the relationship between Japan and China. I’m currently investigating how Japanese NGOs that engage in multi-track diplomacy fit into the larger framework of Japan-China diplomacy. We usually think of diplomacy as government representatives meeting each other, but non-government actors – such as academics, business leaders, NGO representatives etc. – are increasingly participating in diplomacy and helping to shape bilateral relations. I think it is important to know more about who these actors are, how they are connected to each other and to various government actors, what their goals and motivations are and so on.
What is your favorite book? One book that I keep coming back to is Zhuangzi, a key text of Daoism and one of the great works of Chinese philosophy. Working in academia, it is easy to get stuck in conceptual thinking and theories meant to explain various phenomena. I find that Zhuangzi’s investigations into the limits of knowledge, along with its gentle mockery of the human tendency to divide up the world and put the parts into categories, is a great antidote to this.
Academic background: I hold a BA in linguistics from Aarhus University, and an MA in Japanese studies from Copenhagen University. I spent a semester at Kobe University in 2014 and a semester at the University of Tokyo in 2016. A common thread in my studies has been the nature of Japanese grammar and the many different descriptions of it across time and space.
My research in a nutshell: Not easy to sum up one’s work “in a nutshell”! In my PhD project, I look at how a number of Japanese language scholars in the early 20th century reinterpreted the pre-modern Japanese language studies as a means to retrieve a ‘purely Japanese’ (i.e. not tainted by Western thought) mode of theorising about grammar and language. In this sense, I try to explore how questions of national and cultural identity become entangled with grammar writing.
What is your favourite place in Japan? When I was younger, I was mostly drawn to the cityscapes of Tokyo and Osaka, I liked exploring the narrow alleyways under the television-coloured skies. Although nowadays my favourite ‘place’ is probably Setouchi, Japan’s inland sea. Whenever I find myself longing to be back in Japan, it is usually a small seaside town, beach or inlet in Setouchi I am thinking of. Also, I was recently in Toyama on the north coast of Japan, where I had the most delicious sushi I have ever eaten. If you ever have the chance, try ordering shiira (mahi-mahi) at a sushi bar in Toyama. There’s a significant chance that it’s the best seafood in the world.