Dr Anna Vainio

School of East Asian Studies

Teaching Associate in East Asian Studies


Full contact details

Dr Anna Vainio
School of East Asian Studies
Jessop West
1 Upper Hanover Street
S3 7RA
I'm an Anthropologist focusing on contemporary Japan. I did my undergraduate and graduate studies in Finland, with my graduate work exploring the paternal parenting in the Japanese context focusing on fathers' experiences in taking parental leave and its impact on gender relations. For this research I carried out three months of field work in Tokyo.

I moved to Sheffield in 2012 to work as a Community Organiser in an inner-city neighbourhood. I worked this role for three years and it strongly inspire the approach and methodologies in my PhD studies. My Doctoral thesis focuses on community recovery in North Eastern Japan after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and the role of affect in participatory governance. During my PhD, I lived in the Tohoku region for 13 months


BA in English Linguistics and Contemporary History (2008), University of Turku, Finland

MA in East Asian Studies (2014), University of Turku, Finland

PhD (2020), School of East Asian Studies, University of Sheffield

Research interests

Within East Asian Studies I focus on Japan, more specifically contemporary rural regions, gender and state-citizen relationships, exploring these themes from the perspective of micro-level experience of macro-level policies.

More broadly within the field of Anthropology my research interests are on the role of affect and imagination in everyday politics, as well as a growing interest in the materialisation of trauma and memory that I am hoping to explore further as a post-doctoral project in the future.


Vainio A. (forthcoming). Designated spaces for designated imaginaries: The cruel optimism of citizen participation in post-disaster state-citizen dialogues. Journal of Dialogue Studies, Publication in 2021.

Martini A. and Vainio A. (forthcoming). Cross-cultural communication through affect: the potential for post-disaster tourism in Japan. The Interface of Culture and Communication -Special Issue in Tourism, Culture and Community, publication in 2020.

Vainio A. (2019). Rural gender construction and decline: Negotiating risks through nostalgia. In Coates J., Farmer L., and Pendleton M. (eds.), Routledge Companion to Gender and Japanese Culture, Routledge, London

Vainio A. (2020). "Kimochi ga wakaranai" - Recovery standing in the way of recovery in Tohoku. Japan Anthropology Workshop Newsletter, 2.4.2020

Vainio A. (2019), 'Stuff matters - Especially when you risk everything for it', Anthropology News, 11.3.2019

Vainio A. (2017), 'Why Japan's tsunami survivors risked everything for their belongings', The Conversation, 2.8.2017 

Vainio A. (2015). Japan's Family Friendly Policies - Why Fathers Matter? Asia in Focus, Vol. 1, March 201

Teaching interests

Alongside teaching about topics relating to my research interests, I am also passionate about research methods and ethics.

Overall, my teaching philosophy is centred on placing equal stress on critical thinking and reflections toward subject knowledge and the development of students' core research and study skills. I also try to make sure that students entering university from various backgrounds are able to identify with the teaching activities and materials, and therefore try to pay attention to issues of representation and diversity in the selection of teaching materials, case studies and class exercises.

Teaching activities
I am currently teaching the EAS1000 Exploring East Asia but will be taking on other teaching duties later on in the academic year.