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New initiative at EAP: Contemporary Japanese Thought

Kuniichi Uno

Building on Cornell’s strong tradition in Japanese intellectual history, the East Asia Program is launching an initiative on contemporary Japanese thought that seeks to return attention to the place of Japan in the contemporary world.

Both peripheral and central to conceptions of the modern and post-modern, Japan has been a locus of global intellectual and artistic activity through the 20th and 21st centuries.

Pedro Erber, the new director of EAP and graduate field faculty in Romance Studies, Latin American Studies, Asian Studies, and Comparative Literature, will lead the initiative.

“East Asia occupies an increasingly central position in the global political landscape, which the old model of US-centric area studies is unable to address,” he said. “We at the East Asia Program look forward to the challenges this new moment presents.”

For spring 2019, we welcome Kuniichi Uno a renowned scholar in philosophy and literature, on March 14 and 15.

  • On March 14 he will speak on, 憲法と文学 (The constitution and Literature) This talk will be in Japanese. 4:30 pm Rockefeller Hall Room 378 Asian Studies Lounge  憲法と文学    日本国憲法「改正」の問題は、しばしば文学者によって思考され、それが広い影響も与えてきた。このことがどのような思想的文脈を含んでいるのか、再考を試みる。宇野 邦一は、日本の哲学者、フランス文学研究者。専門は、映像身体論、身体論、現代思想。立教大学現代心理学部教授。フランス哲学者ジル・ドゥルーズの翻訳者。 Kuniichi UNO is Emeritus Professor of philosophy and French literature at Rikkyo University in Tokyo. He is the main translator into Japanese of the works of Gile Deleuze and Felix Guattari, as well as a translator of Antonin Artaud and Samuel Becket.  


  • On March 15, Uno will explore Deleuze et la "Figure" de l'Orient. This talk will be in French.  4:30 pm Olin Library Room 703  Dans "Qu'est-ce que la philosophie?", Gilles Deleuze et Félix Guattari disent que le concept est à l'Occident et la figure est à l'Orient.Deleuze ne dit que peu de choses sur la pensée orientale ; mais il y a des points à repenser en ce qui concerne l'articulation de la Figure dans sa philosophie et les statuts de la Figure qui peuvent se déterminer dans le cadre de différentes pensées orientales, notamment le bouddhisme adopté dans l'histoire du Japon. 


*** Last fall, 2018****

The Contemporary Japanese Thought initiative speaker series kicked off October 18th with the visit of William Marotti, professor of Japanese history and chair of the East Asian studies masters program at UCLA.

In “Violence, Glue-sniffing, Liberation: 1968 Japan,” Marotti looks back 50 years to a pivotal point in contemporary history and one of the global hotspots of civil and social upheaval. In January of 1968, violent confrontations between protesters and police in Tokyo and other parts of Japan transformed perceptions of state force and legitimacy, creating new political possibilities within a “global 1968.” The talk considered the relationship between the politics of violence and space, and the radical cultural politics of the moment, including art, theater, counterculture, and abject communities.

The series continued with a talk by media theorist Thomas Lamarre of McGill University. In "Region as Method: Affective Media Geographies" on October 22, Lamarre outlined the rise of what has been called "new television" or "media regionalism" in and from East Asia, showing how the popular anime Captain Tsubasa took on different meanings as it was distributed on various media networks in post-war occupation Iraq, a deregulated Italy, and other media structures. In regional television, he argues, distribution (infrastructure and technology) precedes and exceeds the production of contents or programs. Distribution, however, is not simply driving production but is productive in itself. 

The third and final talk in the Contemporary Japanese Thought series for the fall was held on November 28 and featured Brian Hurley, Assistant Professor of Japanese Literature, Film, and Culture at Syracuse University, speaking on the novelist Haruki Murakami and neoliberalism.