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Toyota Visiting Professors

Endowed in 1988, the Toyota Visiting Professorship is granted to scholars from Japan and countries other than Japan in alternating years. It provides a rotating chair for scholars and public figures to spend one to two semesters at U-M to engage in academic exchange and research. Toyota Visiting Professors present public lectures, offer graduate seminars, and conduct research on various Japan-related topics.

Toyota Visiting Professor | 2023-24

Eriko Tomizawa-Kay – University of East Anglia, Art History

I am a historian of modern Japanese art specializing in nihonga (lit. Japanese painting) of the Meiji era. An aspect of nihonga that I am particularly interested in is the transnational development of nihonga and the emergence of nihonga collections outside of Japan. My passion for nihonga has led me to explore various locations, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York or, more recently, Okinawa. By examining Okinawan art, I am seeking to question the conventional master-narrative of Japanese art history.

My approach in researching Okinawan Arts is to reassess the importance of symbiotic relationships between the islands of the Okinawan chain in regional, transregional, and transnational contexts; covering, in particular, the socio-cultural complexities of Okinawan identity, and the intersection between art, politics, and identity.

My main goal is to shed light on how Okinawan arts and cultures have been affected by internal political situations and the triple subjugation to the United States, Japan, and China. As part of my Okinawa project, I am currently working toward a contemporary Okinawan art exhibition to be held in both Okinawa and England. I believe that this exhibition will challenge the so-called mainstream Japanese art history and bring attention to the unique and vital culture of Okinawa.

My publications include East Asian Art History in a Transnational Context (Routledge, 2019) edited with Toshio Watanabe; Okinawan Art in its Regional Context: Historical Overview and Contemporary Practice: Sainsbury Institute Occasional Paper 2 (SISJAC, 2022) edited with Megumi Machida, Hiroko Ikegami, and Toshio Watanabe; and ‘Changes in the Japanese art market with the emergence of the middle-class collector: A study of Hishida Shunsō (1874–1911)’ in Journal of the History of Collections among others. Currently, I am writing the manuscript for my book, with a working title of Hishida Shunsō and the emergence of Nihonga in a transnational context.