BAJS Conference 2018: Crisis? What Crisis? Continuity, and Change in Japan

Students Union5th - 7th September 2018
Sheffield Students Union
University of Sheffield

Since the collapse of the Bubble Economy, Japan has often been described as being in demographic, economic or and/or social crisis. In recent years, however, significant legal and constitutional changes have been proposed, implemented and resisted; signs of sustained economic growth have appeared for the first time in several decades; and a reassertive global image of what it means to be Japanese is being promoted, particularly in the leadup to the Tokyo Olympics of 2020. As in other moments in Japanese history, tensions between desires for transformative social change and continuity have reappeared, framed by regular moments of crisis, sometimes real, sometimes perceived.

Debates over how political, social, economic, and cultural change occurs in Japan, both in the past and present, have often swung between these narratives of crisis, continuity and change. These frameworks have also shaped much of the study of Japan in the UK and elsewhere across a wide range of disciplinary approaches.

In the sesquicentennial of the Meiji Restoration and the fiftieth anniversary of the debates prompted by the protests of 1968, the British Association for Japanese Studies, with the School of East Asian Studies at the University of Sheffield, invites scholars to reflect on these narratives of change, continuity and crisis and their usefulness in the 21st century.

Keynote speakers confirmed

Confirmed keynote speakers for the conference are: Professor Mōri Yoshitaka (Tokyo University of Arts) and Professor Gennifer Weisenfeld (Duke University). We are delighted to have two leading scholars in Japanese Studies joining us who are both in different ways interested in exploring cultural and social responses to crisis. Further details on the speakers is below.

Mōri Yoshitaka

Mōri Yoshitaka is Professor in Sociology and Cultural Studies in the Graduate School of Global Arts at Tokyo University of the Arts. He holds a PhD and MA from Goldsmiths, University of London and a BA in economics from Kyoto University. Professor Mōri is the author of multiple books and articles on contemporary social and cultural movements, art and culture in times of crisis, and cultural industries in East Asia. Publications include Sutoriito no shisō (The Philosophy of the Street) (2009, in Japanese and Korean) and Popyura ongaku to shihonshugi (Popular Music and Capitalism) (2007, 2nd ed. 2012). In English, he has published in journals including Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, World Art and the International Journal of Japanese Sociology.

Gennifer Weisenfeld

Gennifer Weisenfeld, Professor in the Department of Art, Art History, and Visual Studies and Dean of the Humanities at Duke University, received her Ph.D. from Princeton University. Her field of research is modern and contemporary Japanese art history, design, and visual culture. Her first book Mavo: Japanese Artists and the Avant-Garde, 1905-1931 (University of California Press, 2002) addresses the relationship between high art and mass culture in the aesthetic politics of the avant-garde in 1920s Japan. And her most recent book Imaging Disaster: Tokyo and the Visual Culture of Japan’s Great Earthquake of 1923 (University of California Press, 2012, Japanese edition Seidosha, 2014) examines how visual culture has mediated the historical understanding of Japan’s worst national disaster of the twentieth century. She is currently working on two new book projects, one titled The Fine Art of Persuasion: Corporate Advertising Design, Nation, and Empire in Modern Japan, and the other, Protect the Skies! Visualizing Civil Air Defense in Wartime Japan.

General enquiries about the conference can be addressed to:

Note that presenters at the BAJS conference must be current BAJS members - anyone whose paper is accepted will need to become a BAJS member prior to registering for the conference. Non-members can register online