Chair in U.S. - Japan Relations, Fall 2016
As one of the leading architects in Japan, Hiroshi Hara has produced major works that include Sapporo Dome, JR Kyoto Station Building, and Umeda Sky Building. Since the 1970s, he has spent over 25 years conducting extensive surveys of villages around the world. His architecture achievements along with his theoretical work on space are among many of his critical contributions to modern architecture.
Trained at Tokyo University, Hara is one of the most accomplished in a new generation of avant-garde New Wave architects who became active beginning in the late 1960s and who were sharply critical of the contemporary urban developments in Japan. Yet, unlike many of his more radical contemporaries, Hara derived his design theories from his extensive studies of vernacular architecture and indigenous settlements in Asia and Africa, in an attempt to bring cultural relevance to avant-garde ideas. He follows a unique anthropological approach to architecture somewhat similar in nature to the one put forward by the members of Team Ten in Europe.
Hara’s early works, the so-called “reflection houses,” such as his own residence at Machida near Tokyo and the Niramu House, Tokyo, display a negative attitude toward the chaotic and volatile conditions of the Japanese city and focus instead upon the internal order of the house as informed by critical aspects of dwelling. They were all shaped along sequences of centrally and symmetrically arranged spaces and appeared as hollowed-out concavities. Many of them implemented scaled-down and metaphorical urban elements, including landmarks, intersections and plazas, and so could be regarded as attempts to create miniature and fantastic cities.
Chair in U.S. - Japan Relations, Spring 2016
Kojin Karatani is widely renowned as the most important literary critic and philosopher of contemporary Japan. Moving across philosophy, literary theory, economics, aesthetics, and politics (East and West, Past and Present), Karatani possesses one of the most intense, profound, and critical voices of our time. Awarded the Gunzo Literary Prize for an essay on Natsume Soseki in 1969, he began working actively as a literary critic, while teaching at Hosei University in Tokyo. In 1975 he was invited to Yale University to teach Japanese literature as a visiting professor, where he became acquainted with Yale critics such as Paul de Man and Fredric Jameson. After publishing “Origins of Modern Japanese Literature” (Duke) in 1980, Karatani proceeded from literary criticism to more theoretical studies ranging from “Architecture as Metaphor: Language, Number, Money” (MIT) to “Transcritique: On Kant and Marx” (MIT). “Transcritique” (2003) has received widespread recognition as one of the most exciting re-readings of the two philosophers in recent years. Together with these English translations, Karatani has written over twenty books in Japanese.
At the same time, he made a political commitment to editing the quarterly journal “Critical Space” with Akira Asada. For over a decade “Critical Space” was the most influential intellectual journal in Japan. In 2000, Karatani also organized the New Associationist Movement (NAM)--NAM was conceived as a counter–capitalist/nation-state association, inspired by the experiment of LETS (Local Exchange Trading System, based on non-marketed currency). Since 1990 he has taught regularly at Columbia University as a visiting professor of comparative literature. He was a regular member of ANY, the international architects' conference which was held annually for the last decade of the 20th century. In 2006, Karatani retired from teaching in Japan to devote himself full-time to writing and lecturing.
Junko Yamazaki received her PhD from the joint degree program with Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. Her research interests include: film theory; spectatorship and audience studies; the reception of modern technology and the intersection of scientific discourses and artistic practices; Japanese cinema and other national cinema; New Wave(s); history of cultural studies in Britain, North America and Japan; queer studies; popular cinema (esp. avant-garde artists’ engagement with it), film genre and star system; sound technologies and auditory cultures in modern Japan (with a strong interest in 1960s Japanese film music); modernism; literary theories and criticism; modernity and historiography; subtitling.
Nassrine Azimi co-founded and currently coordinates the Green Legacy Hiroshima Initiative (http:www.unitar.org/greenlegacyhiroshima), a global campaign to disseminate and plant worldwide seeds and saplings of trees that survived the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
At the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) Azimi established the Hiroshima Office for Asia and the Pacific in 2003, and was its first director until 2009. Prior to her work in Hiroshima she had been UNITAR’s coordinator of environmental training programs, deputy to the executive director, and chief of the Institute’s New York Office, which she reopened in 1996 and directed for five years. She is currently a senior advisor at the Institute.
Azimi has published extensively on UN peacekeeping and peace-building, post-conflict reconstruction, environmental and cultural governance, and Asia. Her latest book, released in French, Japanese and English, is about Beate Sirota Gordon and her father Leo, both prominent artistic and cultural figures in Japan and the United States.
Azimi has a doctorate in cultural studies from the Graduate School of Integrated Arts and Sciences, University of Hiroshima, a post-graduate degree in urban studies from the School of Architecture, University of Geneva, an MA in international relations from Geneva’s Graduate Institute of International Studies, and a BA in political science from the University of Lausanne.
Kyoko Kawaguchi (川口匡子) is a Japanese reporter/editor working for a regional newspaper, Nishinippon Shimbun (西日本新聞, West-Japan Daily) sold throughout Kyushu area. She started her career as a local news reporter in 2007 after finishing a master’s degree in Comparative Social and Cultural Studies in Kyushu University. Her coverage includes sexual minority social movements, gender issues, gender equality in education etc. She is also collecting and recording the history of newspaper layouts in the relation with the development of typography as an off-the-job project.