Go-aisatsu from the Secretary General 2021

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

Go-aisatsu from the Secretary General

Recently, the Japanese government announced a new era name. When Crown Prince Naruhito will succeed to the Chrysanthemum throne on 30 April 2019, years will be counted as Reiwa, a period of ‘order and peace’. The Abe government seems to be hopeful that after a period of economic troubles, disasters and societal changes, the country will stabilise and prosper again.

JAWS has also witnessed changes in the past months. Several of our long-serving officers have stepped down, leaving the field open to a new generation of engaging members. On behalf of all members, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for their high-spirited work for JAWS over many years. At the same time I would like to use this opportunity to welcome a number of new members on the officers team. Dōzo yoroshiku onegai itashimasu!

In autumn 2017, Anne-Mette Fisker Nielsen moved from London to Tokyo to take on a new appointment at Soka University. The new JAWS Treasurer and Membership Secretary is Ruth Martin (Oxford Brookes) who has been braving the bank bureaucracy ever since and makes sure that our finances and membership are well organised.

The most obvious sign of recent changes is our newly developed website. We have been aiming to integrate the website with our newsletter and to make it readable on your smart phones and computers alike. Stephanie Oeben and Urara Satake have spent many hours of work to allow this to happen. The changes will allow our new editors to develop a more dynamic and reader-friendly website and encourage members to stay in touch about their exciting projects.

Together with these technical changes, the old editorial team – Emma Cook (Hokkaido University), Andrea De Antoni (Ritsumeikan) and Blai Guarné (Universitas Autonoma de Barcelona) – felt that after almost a decade on the job it was time to hand over to a new team. Pia Maria Jolliffe (Oxford) and Jennifer McGuire (Doshisha) are now getting ready to take over.

The JAWS Routledge book series has continued to grow under the experienced editorship of Joy Hendry. Christoph Brumann (Halle) and Henry Johnson (Otago) have joined her team. We now also have a ‘landing page’ on the Routledge website for our members at JAWS, introducing some of the new titles on Ainu, religion, family and happiness as well as information on members’ discounts.

2017-18 were years of major awards for JAWS members. No less than three anthropologists have been awarded with the Order of the Rising Sun for their contributions to Japanese Studies and to improve relations between Japan and their home country, Joy Hendry (Oxford Brookes), Ted Bestor (Harvard) and Jane Cobbi (École des Hautes Études en Science Sociales).

In more good news, despite our decision to move to Life-Membership with its reduction in regular income, JAWS finances are healthy. This has enabled us to offer travel grants to JAWS conferences to early career scholars as well as English language editing grants. We are happy to have been able to welcome so many young and enthusiastic scholars in our midst. JAWS membership has now reached 299.

As I write these lines, we are getting ready for the 29th JAWS conference, organised by Anemone Platz at Åarhus University in Denmark. JAWS conferences are highlights in anyone’s academic life, and the programme looks exciting and diverse.

I wish you all a great conference and look forward to meeting you.

Brigitte Steger, Secretary General of JAWS

12 April 2019