CALL FOR PAPERS- Ecologies of Knowledge & Practice: Japanese Studies and the Environmental Humanities

Call for Papers- Ecologies of Knowledge & Practice: Japanese Studies & the Environmental Humanities
St Antony’s College, University of Oxford
27-28 October 2017
Abstracts due 31 August 2017

A day-and-a-half interdisciplinary workshop and Roundtable for UK Postgraduates and Early Career Researchers in the Humanities

How does research on Japan inform ecological practice that is pertinent beyond the framework of Area Studies, and vice versa? If we were to place nature at the core of our studies of human activities, what new kinds of interdisciplinarity and knowledge would be possible, and how would we reorganise our academic disciplines? This workshop invites individual papers from UK-based Postgraduates and Early Career Researchers within the Humanities for an inter-disciplinary discussion with guidance from established scholars and practitioners.

In today’s world of planetary-scale environmental crises, intellectuals are increasingly urged to cultivate a symbiosis between knowledge and practice and to engage with each other beyond disciplinary divides. Historically, Japan has claimed a uniquely harmonious relationship with nature. Yet this cultural rhetoric of ecology has faced challenges for its apparent discordance with the reality of environmental destruction in Japan.

The field of Japanese Studies outside Japan has also been criticized: on the one hand, for exoticizing Japan as a unique “other”, yet conversely, for forcing Japan into a hegemonic model of universal (Western) modernity. While such ideological controversies are ongoing, the study of Japan in the twenty-first century is becoming increasingly and inescapably intertwined with the rise of global environmental problems such as climate change, nuclear catastrophe, deforestation and threats to marine life. The challenges of Eco-criticism follow hot on the heels of the politics of still-prevailing Orientalism. More information about the workshop is available at the workshop’s website.

We invite proposals for papers of 20 minutes concerning the above issues within Japanese Studies in relation to the Environmental Humanities. For example:

    • – How can academic research be combined with practices of engagement with ecological issues in and beyond Japan? Are these two objectives even compatible?
    • – What contribution could Japanese discourses of ‘Nature’ make to modes of engagement with environmental issues?
    • – What can sustainable practices within Japanese material culture offer to the transnational world?
    • – How is ecological knowledge organised within Japanese socio-political networks, and what is the role of the researcher in mediating between these networks and the wider world?
    • – How do people’s lived experiences of the triple disasters of 3.11, and increased fear of nuclear power generation, affect approaches to intellectual enquiry?

Please send abstracts of c. 300 words, together with a brief biography of c. 150 words, here by 31st August. All selected participants will be asked to circulate their papers internally by 10th October and to familiarise themselves with co-participants’ work prior to the workshop. The presenters will be asked to submit a short critical reflection on the ideas discussed following the end of the workshop.

Participants are requested to seek their own sources of funding initially. If funding cannot be obtained from the participant’s home institution, transport and accommodation costs will be partially covered by the generous support from St Antony’s College Antonian Fund and Japan Foundation London.

Scholars from outside the UK are welcome to apply if they are able to fund their own transportation.

The workshop is being organized by Eiko Honda (DPhil candidate in History, Faculty of History, University of Oxford) and Alice Freeman (Research and Teaching Associate, the Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies, University of Oxford) and is supported by the Antonian Fund, Japan Foundation London, and Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies, in Partnership with TORCH | The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities.