Top > Vol.6 - Alexander Bukh
Name: Alexander Bukh Nationality: Russian/ Israeli
Affiliated research center/ school in Waseda Graduate School of Political Science
Prof. Umemori
Affiliated research institution at home country International Relations
The London School of Economics
The period of your stay at Waseda From  09/2006/     to    09/2008/
Subject of research
Russia in Japan's national identity and foreign policy

 I was born in Moscow, USSR in 1970. Contradictory to the fearsome images of the Soviet Union in the West and in Japan, I had a rather normal childhood, going to school and spending my free time with friends playing, reading and traveling across the Soviet Union. Personally, I have not experienced any discrimination for being Jewish but my parents opted for a life in the West and at the age of 12 my family immigrated to Israel. I grew up in a very particular time for the young generation of Israelis-Israel was engaged in a disastrous war in Lebanon and the beginning of the first Intifada (Palestinian uprising)made many young question the absolute righteousness of the Israeli history and policies as propagated by the media, the education system and the government.

My first Exposure to Asia
 After a brief experiment with political activism, at the age of 19 I left Israel with the money I have saved working as a motorbike courier to explore the world. I have traveled and worked for about 4 years, mainly in Asia. Most of my time I spent in Thailand, learning the language, practicing Thai boxing and working as a restaurant manager. Unlike most of my colleagues in social sciences and humanities, my encounter with Japan was purely incidental. For the first time I came here in 1992 with the purpose of staying 3 months and making some money to enable me continue my journey around the world. 3 months turned into 9 and during this time I have done all kind of jobs-from selling toys at festivals to bartending. Eventually I have decided to enter a university and passed the entrance exam to International Law Department at Seinan Gakuin University located in Fukuoka. After four years of intensive studies I was completely clueless as to what I want to do with my life so I applied to a Masters program in International Law at Tokyo University, and, surprisingly, got accepted.

Beginning of Academic Career
 The choice of International Law (kokusai kankei hou) as my major was quite incidental-I was quite sure that I am applying to study International Relations (kokusai kankei) when I was filling the forms for Seinan, missing the last kanji that meant "law." After six years, I became totally disillusioned with the legalistic approach to international relations, which focuses solely on the legal debates and ignores the broader political context of the various disputes in the international arena. After graduation, I have worked for a year as a program officer at Sasakawa Peace Foundation and entered a PhD course in International Relations at the London School of Economics.
My thesis, which I successfully defended last summer, examines the construction of Japan's national identity in the postwar discourse on USSR/Russia and analyzes its relationship with Japan's foreign policy towards post-Soviet Russia. Basically, I approach national identity as a social construction, in which the national "self" is constructed vis-à-vis numerous "others." I choose Russia as a case study not only for personal reasons-historically, Russia has been an important "other" for Japan but was never part of the "West" or the "East" in Japanese intellectual debates.

Research at Waseda
 Just like my encounter with Japan, I have met my current academic mentor, Professor Umemori, by incident, after I got interested in his course on Japanese intellectual history during a session of web surfing. Since then he provided me with valuable advice on sources and methodology related to historical inquire into the development of Japan's political thought. Currently the main task is to prepare my PhD thesis to be published as a monograph and I am trying to broaden and deepen my analysis of the role of Russia in Japan's national identity construction. Waseda's library is wonderful-so far I was able to locate there all the sources I need, either in English or Japanese.By utilizing the intellectual environment at Waseda and the wide variety of materials available at the library I hope to make a contribution to the broadly defined Japan studies and to the inquiry into Japan's relations with Russia. After completing the post-doctorate fellowship, I hope to find a teaching position-geographically I am not bound to any particular country or region.

Academic interests and areas of expertise:
* International Relations Theory, National Identity and International Relations,
* Constructivism and post-Positivism in International Relations Theory,
* Politics and Foreign Relations of Japan,
* Russo-Japanese Relations, Historical Memory and National Identities in East Asia

・International Law as a Factor in Political Decision Making Process:" The Soviet Decision to Invade
  Afghanistan" Univ. of Tokyo, 2000 (LL.M dissertation)"
・ "The US-Japan Alliance" book review, Millennium: Journal of International Affairs, April 2002
・ "Shiba Ryotaro, Russia and Japan's National Identity", Harvard Asia Quarterly, pp.66-73, IX, 1 ans. 2
 (spring 2005)
・ "History Textbooks and Historical Memory Construction"-The Waseda Journal of Political Science and
 Economics, February 2006

Russia in the Construction of Japan's Identity: Implications for International Relations, PhD thesis in
 International Relations, submitted to the University of London (LSE) August 2006
・ "Constructivism and Japan's Identity and Foreign Policy: A Critique", Asia Cultural Studies, March 2007
・ "National Identity and the Memory of 'the Other' in Post-Cold War Japan" book chapter in Saaler and
  Schwentker eds. The Power of Memory in Modern Japan, Global Oriental, July 2007 forthcoming

Last updated; March 19, 2007
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