The “JAG” initiative brings together academics whose work intersects with Japan in order to jointly conceive new paradigms for the study of the Japanese Arts (broadly conceived to include the fields of comparative literature, anthropology, film, photography, print and other media, performance, aesthetics, art, archaeology, technology and gaming, spatial studies, and the history of art and architecture) in relationship to Asia, America, and the World. Collectively, we aim to initiate a series of new exchanges. This collaborative work ultimately redefines our approach to the study, teaching, and frameworks for Japanese, Asian, and Asian American Studies, and our desire to integrate such comparative reflections on Japanese Arts into other fields of inquiry.
“Japan” provides a thematic and discursive coherence, but we approach “Japan” in intercultural terms (a node in multilateral networks) and comparative terms (resonance with cultural phenomena geographically and temporally elsewhere). We take the “global” vantage seriously and consider a broad range of problems for critical discussion, including migration, violence, travel-writing, exhibitions, enemy images, diaspora, comparativism, early modern exchanges, race and ethnicity, visuality, overseas study, and translation. Our periods of focus reach across the ancient, early modern, and modern. This inclusive periodization permits focus on both present conditions and the formative history of the global, while also inviting questions about the deep past and its modern invocation.
We promote multilateral dialogue between Japanese studies scholars and individuals based in other fields, as well as between scholars in the US and abroad. We also work to provide opportunities for member faculty and graduate students alike to engage in collegial exchanges and support each other in original research endeavors. Since our inception in 2008, we have sponsored numerous symposia, speaker events, and seminars, bringing together scholars from Japan, the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Our yearly Works-In-Progress conference at Lake Arrowhead has been transformative for the work of dozens of scholars. With 14 member institutions and well over 100 members and alumni, JAG has been, and continues to be, a leader in promoting innovative work on the Japanese Arts.
“JAG brings scholars together from different institutions and fosters a unique community of mutual assistance and intellectual stimulation around Japanese Studies. There is simply no other organization that serves these functions. Since its inception in 2007, I have presented my work at five JAG-sponsored events and served as co-organizer of two others. The thoughtful criticisms and responses of colleagues at these events have been remarkably productive for my research.”
Dan Abbe, UCLA, PhD student in Art History
“I am a graduate student about to defend a prospectus, and it has been extremely helpful for me to participate in JAG the last two years even before the dissertation stage. I’ve found JAG to be a helpful place to test out ideas for what a dissertation project could be, and to receive critical feedback from peers (including established scholars in the field) on my writing. I can hardly overstate the use of such sustained intellectual engagement with my own project. However, I also want to underline that the warm environment at JAG means that graduate students and tenured faculty alike can offer critical comments on each other’s work in a supportive space. So, while the comments I received on my own work have been very helpful, it has been equally rewarding to engage with scholars from other departments on an equal footing, in an environment that promotes genuine interaction. In both of these senses, I feel that JAG has been crucial to my scholarly formation.”