Japanese Studies Center Seminars, Semester 1 2013

All welcome!

When — Weds, 12 noon to 1 pm

Where — Japanese Studies Centre, Auditorium. Building 54, Monash University Clayton campus, Wellington Rd., Clayton [map]

13 March
Speaker:   Dr. Reto Hofman, SOPHIS, Monash University
Title: ‘Dark Link: Japanese New Order Theorists and Italian Fascism’

Abstract:  Dr. Hofmann will discuss the role of Italian Fascism in Japanese New Order thinking from 1931 to1952. It reveals how, in the early 1930s, Fascism became a central subject of public debate. Fascism, however, did not “influence” events and ideas in Japan. Indeed, Japanese right-wing leaders, conservative intellectuals and politicians, military activists, as well liberal commentators strove to deny the usefulness of Italian fascism for Japan. Yet, I argue, this stance was less as rejection of fascism than an attempt to overcome it by formulating an autonomous New Order politics. This effort failed. By tracing the contradictory discourse on Italian Fascism, I show how Japanese – wittingly or unwittingly – recognized the commonalities between Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan. The talk sheds new light on the mechanism of fascism and suggests that the categories of “militarism” and “ultra-nationalism” should be rethought in light of the ideological relations that linked Japan to Fascist Italy.

Author Bio: Reto Hofmann specializes in modern Japanese political and cultural history, with wider interests in 20th-century Asia and Europe, especially fascism, empire and imperialism, and political thought. Before coming to Monash, Reto was an INTERACT Postdoctoral Fellow (2010-2012) at the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University. He completed his PhD in history at Columbia University (2010) and received his undergraduate education at the University of Western Australia (BA, Hons, 2000). His first monograph, Fascist Reflections: Politics and Ideology in Twentieth-Century Japan, is currently under review.


10 April
Speaker:  Kenta KOSHIBA, LCL, Monash University
Title: Transnational spaces and the negotiation of identities: The Japanese language learning experiences of English – Japanese bilingual youths in Australia

 Abstract: With an increase in the number of “heritage learners” or “background speakers” enrolling in language classes, the social and affective factors influencing these students’ language development have become a widely debated issue both nationally and internationally. This study aims to contribute to this field by examining the Japanese language learning experiences and identity negotiations of Year 12 and tertiary level background speakers who were enrolled in a “Japanese for background speakers” subject that was offered by an Australian university. Through an analysis of data derived from semi-structured interviews with the participants, I will illustrate the complex ways in which these students draw on their linguistic and cultural resources to position themselves and others in the class, claim legitimacy as a speaker of Japanese and construct “transnational(ised) identities” (Vertovec, 2001) that dis-align the fixed connection between language and ethnicity.

Author Bio: Kenta Koshiba is a PhD candidate in the School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics at Monash University. His interests include heritage language education, bilingualism and the use of translation and interpreting in language education.

8 May

Speaker: Dr. Iori HAMADA, Asia Institute, University of Melbourne
Title: Authenticity and Domestication: A Study of Japanese Restaurants in Melbourne

 Abstract: This paper concerns issues of authenticity and how consumers shape their ideas about particular cross-cultural products and practices.  Japanese restaurants in Melbourne are deployed as a cross-cultural setting to examine the tension between consumers’ claims for authenticity and a process of domestication.  Through an analysis of my interviews with local consumers, I suggest consumer’s ideas about what Japanese food ought to be (i.e. authenticity claims) do not always correspond to the point of ‘origin’, since the origin in the context of Japanese food is the very result of domestication, through which ‘foreign’ elements become constitutive of the ‘original’ over time.  

Author Bio: Iori Hamada is currently working as a Coordinator and Lecturer of Contemporary Japanese Studies at the Asia Institute, University of Melbourne.  She completed her PhD project researching the phenomena of overseas Japanese restaurants in 2012 at the university.  She has published in the areas of cross-cultural politics, food and international communication.