Season 2, Episode 6 | Claire Maree

July 23, 2021. In this episode, Allison Alexy talks with Professor Claire Maree, an Associate Professor and Reader at the Asia Institute, University of Melbourne. Dr. Maree is a linguist examining the reproduction, negotiation, and contestation of identities in language, particularly in media, as well as the interconnection of gender and sexuality in everyday language practices. Our conversation today centers on her newest book, Queerqueen: Linguistic Excess in Japanese Media, which examines popular celebrities who speak as gay or queer people. Topics of discussion include: onê kotoba, Miwa Akihiro, Matsuko Deluxe, vulgarity and self-censorship, the term "queer" in Japan, women's language as spoken and written, Osugi and Peeco, text on screen in TV shows, makeover shows, the koseki system and discrimination, LGBT booms in Japan, legal rights for same-sex partnerships, linguistic research methods, text on screen outside of Japan, and the incredible work librarians do.

Please note, this episode includes and discusses language – both in English and Japanese – that some listeners might find explicit or offensive.

As context for the celebrities and trends, Dr. Maree discusses please check out: 

Podcast transcript.

Dr. Claire Maree’s new book Queerqueen superimposed on an image of Matsuko Deluxe and Osugi & Peeco at a 2010 premier of the film "Burlesque."

Season 2, Episode 5 | Vyjayanthi Selinger

June 18, 2021. In this episode, Allison Alexy talks with Professor Vyjayanthi Selinger, a scholar of Japanese literature and culture. Her research examines literary representations of conflict in medieval Japan, using conflict as the key node to examine war memory, legal and ritual constraints on war, Buddhist mythmaking, and women in war. Our conversation centers on two articles she has published recently. First we discuss “War Without Blood? The Literary Uses of a Taboo Fluid in the Heike monogatari,” published in Monumenta Nipponica in 2019, and “The Rāmāyana and the Rhizome: Textual Networks in the Work of Minakata Kumagusu” published in Verge: Studies in Global Asias in 2021. Topics of discussion include: blood as symbol and taboo, The Tale of the Heike (Heike monogatari), Buddhism and bodily pollution, research methods and surprises, literary representations of law, Hachinoki (Noh play), the Rāmāyan in Japan, translation, homology and adaptation, Chinese translations of Latin, doctoral requirements for training in language and theory, and Lady Triệu in Watchmen (TV show).

Dr. Vyjayanthi Selinger is the Stanley F. Druckenmiller Associate Professor of Asian Studies at Bowdoin College. Her first book, Authorizing the Shogunate: Ritual and Material Symbolism in the Literary Construction of Warrior Order, explores how texts from fourteenth century Japan harnessed symbolic understandings of authority to evoke order and contain rupture. 

If you're interested in learning more about her work, please watch her presentation in the Japanese Studies and Antiracist Pedagogy Project. You can find her on Twitter @jayselinge, where she would be especially happy to discuss the TV show Watchmen and the character Lady Triệu.

Podcast transcript.

Season 2, Episode 4 | Gabriella Lukács

June 2, 2021. In this episode, Allison Alexy talks with Professor Gabriella Lukács, whose research focuses on analog and digital media, which she theorizes as a continuum. The conversation centers on her new book Invisibility by Design: Women and Labor in Japan's Digital Economy. Topics of discussion include: digital labor, online entrepreneurship, labor in the academy, net idols, bloggers, influencers, careers on YouTube, "expert" advice online, Japan's gendered labor market, what is recognized as labor, extracting profit from workers who aren't being paid, the gaps and overlaps between online and IRL, and doing research with celebrities.

Dr. Gabriella Lukács is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh.  Her earlier book, Scripted Affects, Branded Selves analyzes the development of a new primetime serial, a so-called “trendy drama,” as the Japanese television industry’s response to developments in digital media technologies and market fragmentation. 

Podcast transcript.

Season 2, Episode 3 | Jolyon Baraka Thomas

April 2, 2021. In this episode, Allison Alexy talks with Professor Jolyon Baraka Thomas, whose research focuses on religion as it intersects with media, freedom, education, and capitalism. The conversation centers on his book Faking Liberties: Religious Freedom in American-Occupied Japan. Topics of discussion include: State Shintō, religious freedom, the Meiji Constitution, the Allied Occupation of Japan, tools of American empire, rhetoric and practices of freedom, development studies, anti-Black racism in Japan and in Asian Studies, education, inequities, DEI rhetoric and practices.

In the course of our conversation, which occurred before the murders in Atlanta and subsequent attention to ongoing violence toward Asian and Asian American people, Dr. Thomas referenced a few public materials highlighting racism and anti-Black racism in Japan, Asian Studies, and the United States. We have gathered them here, in case listeners might want to explore them further (in the order they appear in our conversation):

Dr. Thomas is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. You can find him on twitter @jolyonbt.

Podcast transcript.

Season 2, Episode 2 | Suma Ikeuchi

January 6, 2021. In this episode, Allison Alexy talks with Professor Suma Ikeuchi, whose research focuses on migration, ethnic studies, religion, and science & technology studies. Our conversation centers on her book, Jesus Loves Japan: Return Migration and Global Pentecostalism in a Brazilian Diaspora, published in 2019 by Stanford University Press. After we recorded this, the book was awarded the 2020 Francis L. K. Hsu Book Prize by the Society for East Asian Anthropology. Dr. Suma Ikeuchi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  You can find her on Twitter at @prof_suma.

Podcast transcript.

Season 2, Episode 1 | Charlotte Eubanks

September 24, 2020. In this episode, Allison Alexy talks with Professor Charlotte Eubanks, whose research focuses on material culture, performance studies, and ethics, with a focus on Japanese and Buddhist literature from the medieval period to the present. The conversation centers on their new book The Art of Persistence: Akamatsu Toshiko and the Visual Cultures of Transwar Japan. Topics of discussion include: settler families in Hokkaido, art, sketching, life histories, art and books for children, war guilt and responsibility, and research methods for art historians.

Professor Charlotte Eubanks is Department Head and Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, Japanese, and Asian Studies at the Pennsylvania State University. 

Podcast transcript.

Season 2 Trailer

August 14, 2020. This short episode is the trailer for our second season. Rather than talking with a scholar, Allison Alexy briefly explains changes the production team has made in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and newly public conversations about racism, inequity, and exclusion in Japanese Studies (as a discipline), in the academy more generally, in the US, and in Japan. We are grateful to all of our listeners, welcome your reactions, and look forward to sharing upcoming episodes.

Podcast transcript.

Season 1, 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 Ichijōdani, the headquarters of the Asakura warlord family. Topics of discussion include: the Sengoku or Warring States period; the destruction of Ichijōdani; 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.

Season 1, Episode 4 | 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.

Season 1, Episode 3 | 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.

Season 1,  Episode 2 | 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.

Season 1, Episode 1 | 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.