Location of Japanese Studies and the World Discursive System
The main objective of this symposium, “Location of Japanese Studies and the World Discursive System,” is to reflect on Japanese studies primarily as a field of the humanities whose medium of scholarly production is English. The symposium tries to unpack various critical issues and challenges faced by the English-‐language scholarship on Japanese literature, history, film, media, and other types of cultural texts in the context where the production, distribution, and reception of knowledge is no longer confined to any particular national space. This means that Japanese studies we are interested in examining is not the same as Japanese studies in the US or other English-‐speaking countries including the UK, Australia, and Canada. Nor does it refer to what is now called “international Japanese studies” in Japan. Although it is increasingly used by many Japanese universities as the name of a supposedly emerging academic field, a compelling definition of international Japanese studies or kokusai Nihon kenkyū (国際日本研究) has not so far been proposed by anybody or any institution. Japanese studies as a focus of this symposium is more a projection—could be called utopian—of a possible scholarly field which may be coming into being in the near future. Even though a wide variety of issues can be discussed, particular attention needs to be paid to two core questions, which are intimately connected to each other. First, why are we discussing Japanese studies whose linguistic medium is English rather than other languages including Japanese? A simple answer to this question is that Japanese studies, like other humanities fields, can no longer shield itself from the impact of globalization. Currently, the super-‐central language in the world language system (de Swaan) is—and for the foreseeable future, will remain—English. Of course we do not need to—and should not—passively accept the global hegemony of English as an inevitable fact. However, nothing will be solved by ignoring the state of the world language system and simply re-‐ asserting the importance of Japanese-‐language scholarship as a main strategy for combatting the homogenization of academic discourse. Second, what is at stake is more than the choice or de facto imposition of English as a common medium of scholarly communication. Language is not a neutral tool but firmly embedded in a particular system of discursive practice. Therefore, in addition to the world language system, we must scrutinize the world discursive system, which, by relying on the super-‐central language as a means of command and control, sets the research agenda, provides a common framework for production of knowledge, determines what can or cannot be counted as a legitimate mode of academic discourse, and so on. Japanese studies in English language cannot escape from the dynamics of the world discursive system. Yet it may be possible to configure it in such a way as to make the mechanism of the world discursive system more explicitly visible or even contest its globally hegemonic rule.
The symposium is organized as a forum for free discussions. Instead of delivering a formal paper, the principle presenter of each session will be asked to talk about specific ideas and issues for 10-‐15 minutes, which will then lead to open discussions with other presenters and audiences.
10:00-‐10:20 “Introduction” Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto
11:25-‐12:25 “Austerity, Accessibility, Risk: English Language, Asian Students, and the Value of Non-‐Native Tuition” Reginald Jackson
11:30-‐12:30 “The Aporia of Standpoint in the US Scholarship on Post-‐1945 Japan” Yuki Shigeto
13:30-‐14:30 “Crisis in the Humanities and Japanese (Literary) Studies” Tomiko Yoda
14:35-‐15:35 “Karatani Kojin on the End of Modern Literature” Tajiri Yoshiki
15:40-‐16:40 “The Tongue God Used to Lick the World” Phil Kaffen
16:45-‐18:00 “Sinophone Studies in (Post-‐)Socialist Times: ‘Chinese Postsocialism’ and the Global Imaginary” Erin Huang
-‐-‐Erin Huang, Assistant Professor of East Asian Studies and Comparative Literature, Princeton University
-‐-‐Reginald Jackson, Assistant Professor of Pre-‐modern Japanese Literature, University of Michigan
-‐-‐Phil Kaffen, Assistant Professor/Faculty Fellow of East Asian Studies, New York University
-‐-‐Yukiko Shigeto, Associate Professor of Foreign Languages and Literatures (Japanese), Whitman College
-‐-‐Yoshiki Tajiri, Professor of English, University of Tokyo
-‐-‐Tomiko Yoda, Takashima Professor of Japanese Humanities, Harvard University
-‐-‐Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto, Visiting Professor of East Asian Studies, Princeton University; Professor of Media, Film and Visual Culture, Waseda University
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“The symposium is open to all. Please contact Steven Chung (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested in attending.