Episode 5 | Morgan Pitelka

July 30, 2020. In this episode, Allison Alexy talks with Professor Morgan Pitelka, whose research examines late medieval and early modern Japan, with a focus on the samurai, tea culture, ceramics, cities, and material culture. The conversation centers on a new book he is writing centered on Ichijôdani, the headquarters of the Asakura warlord family. Topics of discussion include: the Sengoku or Warring States period; the destruction of Ichijôdani; material culture and political history; kawarake, simple pinched bowls; collaboration and archaeology and history; ceramics and everyday culture; lacuna surrounding violence in Japanese history; students' interests in Japanese Studies; and popular culture and video games about history. 

Content warning: This episode includes a brief, general description of sexual violence at minute 33 of the recording.

If you're interested in learning more about this work, please watch his presentation at the Center for Japanese Studies.

Dr. Pitelka is professor of History and Asian Studies at the University of North Carolina. He is the chair of the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and co-editor of the Journal of Japanese Studies. You can find him on twitter @mpitelka.

Podcast transcript.

Episode Four | Meghen Jones

 

July 17, 2020. In this episode, Allison Alexy talks with Professor Meghen Jones, whose research focuses on the history of ceramics, modern art, and craft theory in Japan and in international perspective. The conversation centers on her new book Ceramics and Modernity in Japan co-edited with Louise Allison Cort and an exhibition she is co-curating about the tea bowl in Japan and beyond. Topics of discussion include: genres and styles of Japanese ceramics such as rakushino, and oribewabi aesthetics; tea bowls in art and use; the influence of Japanese ceramics globally and in the US; Dr. Jones' visit to the studio of artist Tsujimura Shirō; and finding and using digital media in art history.

Dr. Jones is an associate professor and Division Chair of Art History within the School of Art and Design at Alfred University. You can find her on twitter @MeghenJones and on instagram @meghen_jones.

Podcast Transcript.

Episode Three | Michael Strausz

July 2, 2020. In this episode, Allison Alexy talks with Professor Michael Strausz, whose research focuses on Japanese politics, particularly Japan’s immigration policy, as well as the role of norms in international politics. The conversation centers on his new book Help (Not) Wanted: Immigration Politics in Japan exploring why Japan’s immigration policy has remained so restrictive, especially in light of economic, demographic, and international political forces that are pushing Japan to admit more immigrants. Topics of discussion include: immigration statistics, the aging population, policy changes, the Abe administrations, qualitative and quantitative research methods, attitudes toward foreigners in Japan, Nikkeijin “returnees,” and voting patterns. Michael Strausz is an Associate Professor of Political Science and the Director of Asian Studies at Texas Christian University. You can find him on twitter @strauszm.

Podcast Transcript.

Episode Two | Marié Abe

June 18, 2020. In this episode, Allison Alexy talks with Professor Marié Abe, whose research focuses on space, sound, and popular performing arts, in Japan as well as many other topics. The conversation centers on her new book Resonances of Chindon-ya: Sounding Space and Sociality in Contemporary Japan, exploring a popular type of musical street performance and advertising. Topics of discussion include: popular music, protests and activism, labor, social class, doing ethnographic fieldwork, the work of writing and academic book, and Ethiopian jazz. Content warning: This episode include detailed conversation about stalking and other violent threats directed at women and fieldworkers. That part of the conversation begins at minute 35 and lasts for about 7 minutes.

Podcast Transcript.

Episode One | Levi McLaughlin

June 10, 2020. In this episode, Allison Alexy talks with Professor Levi McLaughlin, whose research focuses on religion in contemporary Japan. The conversation centers on his new book Soka Gakkai's Human Revolution: The Rise of a Mimetic Nation in Modern Japan, exploring Buddhist practices and beliefs among within the Soka Gakkai religious sect. Topics of discussion include: the history of Soka Gakkai, attitudes toward religion in Japan, social class and classism, stigma and prejudice, and doing ethnographic fieldwork.

Podcast Transcript.