ABOUT u:japan lectures

International Lectures in Japanese Studies @ University of Vienna - Department of East Asian Studies - Japanese Studies


Idea & Scope

In April 2020, grounded by a general lockdown to prevent the first wave of the COVID-pandemic in Austria, a team of young researchers from the Japanese Studies division at the Department of East Asian Studies, was not willing to accept the cancellation of all guest lectures they have planned and were looking forward to. Hence, they started to look at different opportunities as online formats and digital ways to interact with peers and colleagues. Thankfully supported and encouraged by Prof. Wolfram Manzenreiter they utilized the technical options given at the time and combined them with enthusiasm and intellectual curiosity to see if an online guest lecture series would be feasible and also appreciated by students and peers alike. The basic idea of the Japanese studies online lectures at the University of Vienna, now known as u:japan lectures, was born.

u:japan lectures TEAM

  • Wolfram Manzenreiter: patron and enabler of the u:japan lectures through his institutional and academic support as well as his positive style of leadership
  • Bernhard Leitner: head of communications and the super host of the u:japan lectures, always there to help, eloquent in discussions and friendly in tone
  • Florian Purkarthofer: tireless multi-talent in charge of graphics, webpage and hybrid settings at the u:japan lectures
  • Christopher Kummer: online tech support and highly valued video editor of the u:japan lectures, working nightshifts to compile the finest recorded lectures, while successfully finishing his MA-thesis
  • Ralf Windhab: tech experienced nice guy and new face at the u:japan lectures.

The u:japan lecture team has been nominated and shortlisted for the univie awards 2022 - International Award for "outstanding achievements and special commitment of staff members in the area of international networking and cooperation within all fields of activity of the University of Vienna."


History & Development

Pre-Season

On the 18th of May 2020, after weeks of intensive technical preparation and numerous online meetings, the first lecture was delivered: Naoka Maika explored the background and transition of the image of radiation and nuclear energy in Japan in her lecture “Racing Atomic Utopia and Dystopia in Japan”. Due to the positive feedback, the wide international participation, vivid discussions and the sheer demand for academic activity, three more lectures followed the weeks after, given by Italian anthropologist Marianna Zanetta, Marc Yamada, an expert on contemporary Japanese film and French historian Arthur Mitteau.

During the quiet but still pandemically restricted summer of 2020 the concept was further developed towards a lasting legacy in our effort to revive scholarly discourse. For those who missed lectures, wanted to re-watch them or use them in class, a recorded lectures section has been implemented. In this phase Christopher Kummer, a promising MA student, set a new standard for postproduction of academic videos and enriched the team through his skills, ideas and enthusiasm for visual perfection.

The first full season of u:japan lectures (Autumn-Winter 2020/21) started in October 2020 and featured prominent names like William W. Kelly (Yale University), Daniel White (Cambridge University), Yoshiyuki Asahi (NINJAL) and many more. We heard about the Japanese gendered job market, homosocial desires in Abe Kazushige’s fiction, revisited the ethnographic primal scene of Suye Mura and explored medieval concepts of menstruation and time. One lecture focused on android perspectives on affect, another on creativity in rural Japan, and a third one on the role of Buddhist temples as storehouses in a literal and emotional sense. We learned about seed laws and taijinkyōfu – the fear of others – but also about the Japanese language in the age of post-standardization, and concluded our first season with an excursion into all-female worlds in Japanese speculative fiction.

At that time, other universities and institutions also started Japanese studies online lectures. The example of the Viennese endeavour has inspired and transcended through the academic sphere; proof of concept accomplished. However, the u:japan lectures evolved and introduced a format called LUNCH LECTURE that enabled Japanese presenters and audience to join at a more convenient timeslot and lead to even more international participation. 

In the second season (Spring 2021) innovative researcher such as Anne Aronsson (University of Zurich), Jasmin Rückert (HHU Düsseldorf) and Edward Mack (University of Washington) presented their latest findings. We heard about gender and fascism in Manchuria, love in times of COVID, robotic agency in elderly care, dōjinshi culture, local governance in Okinawa, the packaging revolution of postwar Japan, Japanese literature in Brazil and how science was used to govern the pre- and post-war population. We also learned about recent findings regarding the connection of values and well-being, private and public actors in Kyoto’s townscape councils, Zen Buddhism in prewar Japan as an enabling mechanism for terrorist acts, the role of “traditional” crafts in revitalizing rural areas and finally how everyday practices of waste sorting and disposal actualize the social order in Japan.

While nearly all lectures took place virtually and attracted visitors from different institutions and continents, our last lecture in season two was a special occasion which, due to low COVID case numbers and strict safety precautions, happened in a hybrid format with live and international online audience. 

The third season (Fall-Winter 2021/22) featured once again renowned professors like Adrian Favell (Leeds University) as well as promising PhD students such as Maren Haufs-Brusberg (Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf) and Christoph Schimkowsky (University of Sheffield). Also, the range of topics and perspectives broadened and stretched from labour market migration to contemporary literature and architecture to war memory museums. Due to the nearing end of the limited contract of Bernhard Leitner, Ralf Windhab inherited most of his responsibilities and became part of the team.

The fourth season (Spring 2022) started in the worst days of the omicron wave, but was nevertheless dedicated to facilitate more hybrid lectures and progress the u:japan lectures to a post-pandemic format, by combining the best of online and offline lectures in a hybrid format. The list of presenters included Andrea de Antoni (Kyoto University), Miloš Debnár (Ryukoku University, Kyoto), Maiko Kodaka (SOAS, London) and many more, once again proving a fascinating selection of contemporary research in Japanese Studies.

u:japan lectures in Data

In four Seasons (plus one pre-season) we have organized 52 lectures, by researchers from 12 different countries reaching from the United States to New Zealand, and Europe to (of course) Japan, counting at least 2200 live participants.

Number of Lectures by Country (of Affiliation)

recorded u:japan lectures in Data

The recorded lectures section can be also viewed as success, registering more than 7.300 real views since the start of the recorded lecture section in June 2020 in total and more than 750 re-views of popular single lectures.

 (hits and real views; 2020-06-11 ~ 2022-05-05)

 (real views by episode and month; 2020-06-11 ~ 2022-05-05)

Legacy & Further Use

While the u:japan lectures are most valued by international participants for the vivid discussions and the intellectual discourse they enable, the u:japan lectures simultaneously serve as a portal for students at the University of Vienna to get into touch with the global scientific community in times of a pandemic. But, as we have learned in the past two and a half years, the recorded lectures are also intensively used as high-quality multimedia content by educators in Austria as well as internationally to enrich remote teaching for BA students.

In an attempt to use the experience and routine gathered through organising and hosting the u:japan lectures for the whole department, the sporadic series of u:eastasian lectures was established, featuring topics that concern the broader region of East Asia or at least two countries in the region. 

Sadly, the future of the u:japan lectures is put in jeopardy due to limited contracts, unstable financial support and the insufficient staffing level at the Japanese Studies division, Department of East Asian Studies, University of Vienna. We hope for the best, but even if we are forced to discontinue the series, the recorded lectures, the digital collection of contemporary research in Japanese Studies and the exchange of ideas with friends and colleagues we met on the way will remain.

List of u:japan lectures

ID Date Lecture Title [Link to Record] Name [Link to Poster] Affiliation cc
s04e13 2022-06-30 Neighborhood Tokyo: Creative Urban Milieus as Places of Innovation and Polarization Heide Imai Senshu University jp
s00e01 2020-05-18 Tracing Atomic Utopia and Dystopia in Japan Nakao Maika  Nagasaki University jp
s00e02 2020-06-04 Shamanic practices in contemporary Japan: Local habits and national fascination Marianna Zanetta University of Turin it
s00e03 2020-06-18 Locating Heisei in Japanese Film: The Historical Imagination of the Lost Decades Marc Yamada Brigham Young University us
s00e04 2020-06-25 From Fenollosa to kokubungaku – aesthetics and the birth of the utsukushii Nihon Arthur Mitteau Paris EHESS’s Centre for Studies on Corea, China and Japan (CCJ) fr
s01e01 2020-10-15 Work "like a woman": The construction of femininity and the female body in the Japanese job hunting Anna Lughezzani University of Padova, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and University of Verona it
s01e02 2020-10-22 Abe Kazushige’s Male Homosocial Worlds: Duels and Complaints Maria Roemer University of Leeds uk
s01e03 2020-10-29 85 years of Suye Mura: The life history of a Japanese village—and its anthropology William Kelly Yale University us
s01e04 2020-11-05 Menstruation und Konzeptionen von Weiblichkeit im japanischen Mittelalter Daniela Tan Universität Zürich (UZH) ch
s01e05 2020-11-19 Model Emotion: Android Perspectives on Affect in Japan Daniel White  University of Cambridge uk
s01e06 2020-11-26 ‘Creativity’ in rural Japan: Sōzō nōson and its implications in regional revitalization policies Shilla Lee  Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology de
s01e07 2020-12-10 Storehouses of value: materiality of belonging in Japanese Buddhist temples Paulina Kolata University of Manchester / Lund University uk, se
s01e08 2020-12-17 Ceding Control: Politics, the Environment and Japan’s Food System Nicole Freiner Bryant University us
s01e09 2021-01-07 The fear of others – Taijinkyōfu: Emergence, development and demise of a psychiatric diagnosis Sarah Terrail Lormel INALCO (Paris) fr
s01e10 2021-01-14 Japanese in the Age of Post-Standardization: Language Trends in the 21st Century Asahi Yoshiyuki National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics jp
s01e11 2021-01-28 The Single-Gender Worlds of Suzuki Izumi, Kurahashi Yumiko and Shōno Yoriko – A Short History of Ambivalence Towards All-Female Worlds in Japanese Speculative Fiction Stefan Würrer International Christian University jp
s02e01 2021-03-04 Geschlecht und Faschismus in Darstellungen der japanischen Siedlungsaktivitäten in der Mandschurei Jasmin Rückert Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf de
s02e02 2021-03-11 Love in the Time of COVID-19: The ‘New Normal’ in the TV Series #rimorabu (“Remote Love”) Elisabeth Scherer & Nora Kottmann Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf & DIJ Tokyo de, jp
s02e03 2021-03-18 Conceptualizing Robotic Agency: Social Robots in Elder Care in Contemporary Japan Anne Aronsson University of Zurich / Universität Bern ch
s02e04 2021-03-25 Transcultural Potentials of dōjinshi Culture Katharina Hülsmann Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf de
s02e05 2021-04-15 Local Governance in Okinawa: A Case Study from Oku Gabriele Vogt LMU Munich de
s02e06 2021-04-22 From Glass to Plastics: The Packaging Revolution of Postwar Japan Katarzyna J. Cwiertka Leiden University nl
s02e07 2021-04-29 Japanese Literary Nationalism and Brazil, 1908-1941 Edward Mack University of Washington us
s02e08 2021-05-06 Science for Governing Japan’s Population Aya Homei Manchester University uk
s02e09 2021-05-20 How independently oriented values induce positive outcomes in Japanese interdependent organizations Uchida Yukiko Kyoto University jp
s02e10 2021-05-27 From Private to Public and Back? The Townscape Councils of Kyoto Christoph Brumann Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology de
s02e11 2021-06-10 Zen and the Art of Ending Taishō Democracy Brian Victoria Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies jp
s02e12 2021-06-17 Revitalizing rural Japan through crafts Cornelia Reiher FU Berlin de
s02e13 2021-06-24 A hug on trash day (ハグは資源ゴミの日): Actualising social order through household waste disposal practices Brigitte Steger University of Cambridge uk
s03e01 2021-10-14 Tatamis and Concrete – Antonin Raymond and the challenges of early modern architecture in interwar Japan Yola Gloaguen CRCAO fr
s03e02 2021-10-21 Frauen als groteske Monster – Weiblichkeit und Abjektion in den Werken Kirino Natsuos Anna-Lena von Garnier Universität Düsseldorf de
s03e03 2021-10-28 What Does the Individual Stand for? Victims, Survivors and Noble Spirits in Japanese Memorial Museums Frauke Kempka & André Hertrich ÖAW at
s03e04 2021-11-04 Das Ende des Intimen - Raumkonstruktionen in Murata Sayakas Satsujin Shussan Ronald Saladin Universität Trier de
s03e05 2021-11-11 Zuflucht in Shanghai - The Port of Last Resort Paul Rosdy "ZUFLUCHT IN SHANGHAI" freischaffender Filmemacher, Wien at
s03e06 2021-11-18 Japankoreanische hibakusha als Irritation nationaler Narrative: Die Erzählung Saihate no futari („Zwei Menschen am Rande“, 1999) von Sagisawa Megumu Maren Haufs-Brusberg Universität Düsseldorf de
s03e07 2021-11-25 “Manner Posters” and the Management of Passenger Etiquette on Japanese Urban Railways Christoph Schimkowsky University of Sheffield uk
s03e08 2021-12-02 Help (Not) Wanted: Immigration Politics in Japan Michael Strausz Texas Christian University us
s03e09 2021-12-09 Community-based Renewable Energy Structures: A Case of Small Hydropower in a Japanese Rural Community Junko Fukumoto Fukuoka Prefectural University jp
s03e11 2022-01-13 ISLANDS FOR LIFE: Art Projects and Post-Growth Philosophies in Japan Adrian Favell University of Leeds uk
s03e12 2022-01-20 Tensions of Making and the Art of Breaking: Putting Salt Fields to Rest in 19th Century Japan Aleksandra Kobiljski EHESS fr
s03e13 2022-01-27 Transition from Painted to Painter: The Female Body of Okinawa and its Women Artists Eriko Tomizawa-Kay University of East Anglia uk
s04e01 2022-03-10 They Heard it Through the Grapevine: Rumour Spreading, Poisonous Knowledge and the Political Ecology of Hauntings in Contemporary Japan Andrea de Antoni Kyoto University jp
s04e02 2022-03-17 Urban Migrants in Rural Japan: Between Agency and Anomie in a Post-growth Society Susanne Klien Hokkaido University jp
s04e03 2022-03-24 Ukrainian Diaspora in Occupied Manchuria: Articulating the Needs for the Independent State (1932-1945) Olga Khomenko Kyiv Mohyla Business School (KMBS),The National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy Ukraine ua
s04e04 2022-03-31 History of Early Bilateral Relations between Japan and Hungary (1869-1913) Tóth Gergely independent researcher, Budapest hu
s04e05 2022-04-07 Let's make it an inconvenient place here: Opposing over-tourism in Kyoto’s Gion before and during the pandemic Miloš Debnár Ryukoku University, Kyoto jp
s04e07 2022-05-05 Oshi-katsu, Supporting activity: Recognition and Intimacy as Commodities from the Anthropological Study of Japanese josei-muke Adult Video Fan Communities Maiko Kodaka SOAS, London uk
s04e08 2022-05-12 International students and their organisations in Japan during the pandemic and beyond Polina Ivanova Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto jp
s04e09 2022-05-19 East Asian Reactions to Russia's War in Ukraine: Governmental and Civil Society Responses Alfred Gerstl et al. Universität Wien at
s04e10 2022-06-02 Japanesia, the Ryūkyū Arc, and Shimao Toshio’s Cultural Resistance Against the Colonial Politics of the Past Takahashi Shin Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington nz
s04e12 2022-06-23 Millennials’ Senses of Inequality: Class, Gender, and Legitimation of Differences in Tokyo Yuki Asahina Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Seoul kr