Go-aisatsu from the Secretary General (April 2020)

Brigitte StegerThe past few weeks have certainly been dramatic. In an unprecedented way, all of us have been forced into lockdown and have become hikikomori due to a microscopic virus that challenges the world. I hope that you and your loved ones are all well and are not finding it too difficult to adjust to social distancing, online teaching and working from home.

In this situation, I am happy to be able to announce some positive news. After many months of struggling with technical issues, we have finally been able to get our website up and running. Thank you, Barry, for your excellent pro bono work and for spending many days and weeks of your sabbatical on this project! Together with the technical improvements, Barry has also revised the design and created a new logo. We hope that both members and visitors will find the new website engaging and easy to navigate.

This means that our new website/newsletter editors, Jennifer McGuire and Melinda Papp, can now fully take over the reins. Please follow their call and let us know about your exciting new (and older) projects and observations. We all hope that this new website will enable JAWS members to better communicate with each other and be more fully informed about each other’s work and personal news. All the reports will also be published in our newsletter.

Several reports have been posted recently that are a good reminder of our stimulating JAWS conference held in Aarhus a year ago, while other news items introduce research projects that are currently being carried out by our early career scholars. We hope that these reports enable you to connect with young (and older) scholars to discuss work that has not otherwise been published. You will also discover that one of our members, Ines Sanmiguel, has been awarded the Order of the Rising of the Rising Sun.

It is not clear at this moment in time whether the upcoming EAJS/JAWS conference can take place as planned, but I certainly hope to meet you there if at all possible. Many JAWS members have studied how people feel and react in the face of tragedy – including their response to invisible threats such as radiation, another threat that cannot be heard, seen, smelt or touched. I am sure that our research and discussions could provide insight into the current situation that we are all experiencing. The wearing of masks, the panic buying of toilet rolls and the fear of contamination certainly pose important questions for our notions of cleanliness and pollution.

For those who have turned their home office into a writing retreat, may I remind you that JAWS also offers practical support in the form of English language-editing grants. Details can be found here.

I wish you well in these challenging times!

Brigitte Steger, Secretary General of JAWS

2 April 2020