Understanding Japanese Society

Course Code: UJS101
All societies build narratives depicting the cultural identity of other societies as well as their own. This, however, is not something that happens "naturally". Rather, it is a historically contested process influenced by political and cultural dynamics. What do western societies think about the Japanese, and how do the Japanese see themselves? What narratives and cultural stereotypes are at stake, and to what end? In this class, we will analyze a variety of issues affecting the Japanese people and their culture. We shall discuss how cultural constructs are formed through state policies, art, and politics. Moreover, we will look at the transformations that have occurred throughout the years, and the implications that imagining "Japaneseness" has today. Reflecting on a wide range of issues affecting Japan today will help students go beyond commonly known stereotypes. By the end of this course, students will be better prepared to place Japanese society in the global world by articulating well-informed discussions.
By the end of this course, students will be able to:
1. Analyze critically processes of construction of Japaneseness.
2. Articulate discussions of important issues affecting Japanese society today.
Those interested in deepening their understanding of contemporary Japanese culture abd society.
English Level: Advanced
No required textbook
Pablo Figueroa
Pablo Figueroa (PhD) is an Argentinean-born cultural anthropologist specializing in Japanese studies. He has lived in Japan for over fifteen years and currently teaches at various prestigious universities in Tokyo. His research looks at the crossing of photographic images with contemporary history in Japan and how the camera can be used to explore social responses to cultural change. Previously, Pablo was a full-time assistant professor at Waseda University where he conducted classes on globalization, social change, perceptions of Japan in the world, and contemporary disasters. His work on risk communication, citizen participation, and risk governance of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe was featured in several scholarly publications.