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Report: Japan Foundation/BAJS Japanese Studies Postgraduate Workshop 2018

Japanese Studies Postgraduate Workshop 2018 Images

This February 16 2018 saw the return of the annual Japanese Studies postgraduate workshop, the seventh jointly hosted by the Japan Foundation London and the British Association for Japanese Studies (BAJS). Held at SOAS University of London and attended by 36 postgraduate students from 22 different UK universities working on Japan related research in diverse disciplines across the humanities and social sciences, the workshop was a great opportunity for these emerging researchers to receive practical advice on their research from senior academics, and to network with fellow postgraduate students.

The year’s theme focused on how emerging academics in the UK can help to bridge the academic worlds of the UK and Japan through their research.

Each of the 36 student participants were given the opportunity to make a five minute presentation on their Japan related research and why they believe it is important for the advancement of Japanese Studies in the UK and Japan in front of an audience of peers and senior academics. This was followed by lively group discussion sessions on how to make your research relevant to a wider audience in Japan and the UK. 

The afternoon saw a series of talks by leading figures from UK Japanese Studies taking on key challenges relating to conducting and disseminating research in Japan. Topics tackled included ‘Challenges of short fieldwork trips’ (BAJS president Dr Christopher Hood, University of Cardiff); ‘Ethical issues when doing fieldwork in Japan’ (Dr Erica Baffelli, University of Manchester); ‘Postdoctoral career development in Japan and the UK’ (Dr Peter Matanle, University of Sheffield); ‘Your role as a foreign researcher/academic in Japan’ (Prof Robert Aspinall, Doshisha University) and ‘Publishing in Japan’ (Dr Aya Homei, University of Manchester).

The next session welcomed Prof Takehiko Kariya from the University of Oxford who provided a fascinating view from a Japanese scholar and sociologist on the different communities of Japanese Studies in the UK and the Social Sciences disciplines in Japan, and what emerging researchers in the UK can do to help bridge the gap between them.

The workshop finished with a session on ‘Funding to continue your career in Japan and the UK’ with presentations from representatives of the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, Embassy of Japan in the UK, Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, British Association for Japanese Studies and the Japan Foundation London introducing the wide range of potential sources of funding for Japanese Studies including funding to support research in Japan.

Participants and speakers took to twitter to enthusiastically express their feedback on the workshop using the hashtag #JapanPostGrad

Some comments from student participants include:

‘The workshop this time was the best among previous ones. I like the way the workshop is evolving each time. The aspects of what to expect in Japanese academia were very useful. I also enjoyed the morning session which allowed me to improve my presentation skills.’

‘It [The workshop] was very inspiring and undoubtedly useful – I'm still digesting all the stimuli that we received.’

Thank you very much to all participants and speakers for making the event such a great success. We hope to see you again at a future workshop! If you are a PhD student undertaking research on Japan and are interested in attending a similar event in future, please get in touch!