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Japan Research Centre

Kayoko Tsuda Bursary Recipients

The following students have been awarded the Kayoko Tsuda Bursary.

2014-2015

Iris Haukamp
Iris HAUKAMP

Thesis Title: A Foreigner's Dream of Japan: The struggle over power and authenticity in a German-Japanese coproduction  
Tutor: Dr Isolde Standish

Abstract: The binational film project The Samurai’s Daughter (Die Tochter des Samurai, 1937, Fanck) and New Earth (Atarashiki tsuchi, 1937, Itami) has been dismissed in scholarly discourse as a piece of political propaganda, with a focus on Fanck's German-Japanese edition. The films themselves as well as Japanese interests in the costly undertaking have remained curiously underexplored. With my thesis I argue against predominantly political readings relying on seemingly straightforward causal relations and their lasting impact on interpretations of the participants. The project was far more complex than a politically determined exercise in Orientalist representation. In interplay with political currents, it became the locus of a power struggle over representational authority.

2013-2014

Jennifer COATES
Jennifer COATES

Thesis Title: National Crisis and the Female Image: Expressions of Trauma in Japanese film 1945-1964
Tutor: Isolde Standish

Abstract: Inspired by recurring themes in the representation of the female body during the early postwar period of Japanese film production, my research investigates the affective value of the female image during national crisis.  Following Miriam Hansen’s definition of film as a reflexive medium which expresses and mediates popular anxieties, I suggest that certain archetypal female images on film could achieve expressive and cathartic affect during the Allied occupation of Japan (1945-1952) and its aftermath.  I contextualise my own iconographic analysis of popular film texts with discourse analysis conducted on contemporary criticism published in six commercial film journals, and with close reference to Japan’s socio-political climate informed by historical writing on the postwar period.

2012-2013

Alessia COSTA
Alessia COSTA

Thesis Title: Bodily Assemblages: the Moral, Political, and Informal Economy of Japanese Organ Transplants.
Tutor: Dolores Martinez

Abstract: From Sept 2011 to Oct 2012 I have been conducting ethnographic fieldwork in Tokyo as exchange researcher at Waseda University. I have been taking part to numerous activities related to transplants, while also conducting interviews with a range of different research participants. I have been interviewing the transplant patients and activists who guided the movement for the law reform, with the aim of collecting first-hand information about a unique case of political lobby on medical issues. I also met with several families of young patients who either applied for or received a transplant in a foreign country. The life stories they generously shared with me are the point of entry to analyse one of the more severe problem concerning transplantation in Japan –the scarcity of organs from pediatric donors. Finally, I have met with different professionals working on the field of transplantation, such as medical doctors and transplant coordinators. Through such a work I aim at providing ethnographic knowledge on how issues regarding the implications of medical technologies are dealt with in contemporary Japan. 

2011-2012

Jenny Preston
Jenny PRESTON

Thesis Title: Nishikawa Sukenobu: the engagement of popular art with socio-political discourse   
Tutors: Dr J T CARPENTER, Professor Andrew GERSTLE

Abstract: This research focuses on the illustrated books (ehon) of the eighteenth century Kyoto artist Nishikawa Sukenobu.  Between 1710 and 1722, Sukenobu published some fifty erotic works; following the Kyôhô reforms of 1722 outlawing erotica, he began producing works generally categorized as fûzoku ehon ¬- versions of canonical texts, poems and riddles, all executed in a contemporary idiom. This study contends that these works were an expression of political disaffection; that Sukenobu used first the medium of the erotic, then the image-cum-text format of the children’s book to articulate anti-bakufu and pro-imperialist sentiment.  This radical re-reading of Sukenobu’s work is supported by close reference to the literary output of his numerous collaborators, to contemporary diary and pamphlet literature, and to the corpus of Edo and Kyoto machibure edicts. The study will hopefully shed new light on the role of popular art in the eighteenth century, and its profound political engagement.

2010-2011

Kigen-San LICHA
Kigensan LICHA

Thesis Title: Esoteric traditions in late medieval Japanese Sôtô Zen Buddhism   
Tutor: Dr Lucia DOLCE

Abstract: The research focuses on the secret transmissions handed down in late medieval and early modern Japanese Soto Zen Buddhism. These traditions are based on two closely related genre of texts known as the kirigami and monsan. Kirigami are brief records of oral transmission, often involving diagrams and illustrations of various kinds. They mostly deal with matters of ritual and cosmology. Monsan are collection of koan arranged into standardized hierarchies. Both genre are based on an innovative and distinctive use of koan. This use was based on the need of Japanese Zen monks to come to terms with increasingly incomprehensible Chinese koan material. Koan, their use and acquisition, become increasingly ritualized in Japan. Not only were koan learned in ritualized, performative exchanges between master and disciple, but their use grew to encompass encoding material objects with hidden meanings and they even were employed directly as ritual utterances endowed with magical force.  The research focuses on the conceptual, ontological and cosmological structures that allowed these developments to occur.  In the course of this, it will be argued that any definition of the “esoteric” has to pay attention to the subjectivity of the practitioner generated through its practices.

2009-2010

Benedetta Lomi
Benedetta LOMI

Thesis Title: Practicing a Ritual Image: the worship of Batō Kannon
Tutor: Dr Lucia DOLCE

Abstract: The present research intends to analyse the worship of Batō Kannon 馬頭観音 (S. Hayagrīva), the horse-headed form of the Bodhisattva Kannon, stressing the interactions and discontinuities of its occurrences within the esoteric and folkloristic tradition. The functions of Batō will be discussed both diachronically and synchronically against different ritual settings, from the Heian period up to the present times.

Through the example of Batō Kannon, the objective of this study is to formulate two orders of questions through which the ritualisation of esoteric Buddhist deities can be investigated and analysed.The first set of questions pertains ritualisation as a process of signification that must consider the different means or media employed in the religious practice (which are visual, textual, oral). The way these media are used, both affecting and deriving the structural and theoretical framework of the ritual, represent an integrant part of its differentiation and accomplishment. The second concerns ritualisation in relation to specific historical, economical and social factors and their impact in the definition and shaping of the ritual practice.

2008-2009

Francesca di Marco (Kayoko Tsuda Bursary 2008-2009 Recipient)
Francesca DI MARCO

Thesis Title: Discourse on Suicide Patterns in Post-war Japan
Tutor: Dr Angus LOCKYER

Abstract: The topic of the research is the study of the discourse on suicide patterns in post-war Japan. The purpose of this study is to investigate the process of the formation of the image of suicide throughout the post-war period in non-fictional media, and in particular in newspaper coverage, suicide how-to manuals and suicide websites. This thesis will cover the whole post-war period, from 1946 to 2005, focusing particularly on the 1990s when there was a rapid growth of Internet associations, suicide pacts, and web suicide groups. At the same time, suicide has become a much-reported topic in the mass media. The result of these new trends has been a striking increase in suicide clusters, in new methods of suicide, as well as the emergence of new dynamics such as group suicide and suicide communities.

Most existing research, despite a variety of theoretical approaches, has analysed suicide largely as an unchanging expression of traditional Japanese values. By contrast, this investigation wish to analyse the changing relationship between the presentation of suicide -the act of suicide- and the representation of suicide in the media and other sources, unveiling the conditions under which the historical appearance of suicide is formed, reinterpreted and reinvented.

2007-2008

Duncan Adams
Duncan ADAM

Thesis Title: Schoolboys, Toughs and Adulteresses: Representations of Desire in the Fiction of Mishima Yukio.
Tutor: Dr Stephen DODD

Outline: My research attempts to put Mishima’s treatment of desire in context, by comparing his fiction to other contemporary discussions of desire in fiction and non-fiction (including journalism and medical writing). It investigates the relationship of Mishima’s fiction to the most influential conceptualizations of sexuality in circulation in Japan during his lifetime – principally sexology and psychoanalysis – as well as its relationship to Japanese and Western literary representations of desire. It differs from previous research in the prominence it gives to Mishima’s treatment of desire and in its attention to his popular fiction, which generally receives little critical attention.

2006-2007    

Alan CUMMINGS

Tutor: Dr Andrew GERSTLE