As of October 2014, we have had some changes at the directorship level. Professor Hideaki Miyajima continues to be our Director, and Professors Tetsunori Kobayashi and Shinko Tanuguchi have become Assistant Directors. Introductory remarks from each are presented below.
Prof. Hideaki Miyajima, Director
I have had the privilege of continuing my post for another two years as Director of the Waseda Institute for Advanced Study (WIAS). Since its establishment in 2006, WIAS is currently entering the ninth year of operation. We have produced over 100 researchers who are presently active here at Waseda University and at other universities and research institutions in Japan and overseas.
In our past eight years, WIAS has contributed in three areas. The first is the improvement of the research level at Waseda University. By offering positions to promising young researchers from home and abroad, we have achieved excellent research results. The second is the international academic exchanges. WIAS has recruited leading global researchers for one-month period in our Visiting Fellow Program. These researchers participate in our seminars, workshops and they have provided a fresh, novel impetus to our entire university. The third is the improvement of our global presence. WIAS participates in University-Based Institutes for Advanced Study (UBIAS), which is an international organization of leading and advanced research institutes worldwide. While we pursue such international collaborations, we also participate in research exchanges with individual research institutes that we have signed agreements with, including the University of British Columbia and L’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS). In 2015 we will see a full-fledged launch of a project to compare Japanese, European, and Asian political economic systems and business enterprise systems. We are currently planning further joint research with top research institutions such as EHESS, Oxford University, the Free University of Berlin, and other leading universities and research institutes worldwide. As a director of WIAS , I plan to lead these activities, and I am determined to raise our research to much higher levels.
Prof. Tetsunori Kobayashi, Assistant Director
A little more than eight years have passed since our research institute was founded with the objective of cultivating superb young researchers. In that time, we have established a reputation for producing many outstanding human resources. However, since we consist of small members selected from various fields, individual researchers do tend to become isolated. We need opportunities for close exchanges with other organizations-both to extend the capabilities of our members and to help them achieve a broader influence within and beyond the university. I look forward to creating opportunities for our research members to be a core of interaction with others.
Associate Prof. Shinko Taniguchi, Assistant Director
With recent developments in computers and the diversification of information, conventional academic disciplines continue to take new forms. In my own specialty — the early modern history of Japan — an increasing number of students now write dissertations that span multiple academic fields, such as Japanese history and the history of law. At centers for advanced research, work is being produced that transcends the traditional boundaries between the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. One might say that — in our time — the European concept of the modern nation, together with systems of study based on this concept, are being shed, as we seek fresh ways of understanding the world. I look forward to seeing our researchers demonstrate their abilities.
Attendance at the UBIAS International Conference
The third international conference of the University-Based Institutes for Advanced Study (UBIAS) was held at National Taiwan University during November 27-30, 2014. Representatives of organizations from Asia, Europe, the Americas, and Oceania met and actively discussed the role and mission of advanced research centers and exchanges in an international framework. We participated as a member of the UBIAS Network; Director Miyajima provided an overview of our research institute and projects.
Potentiality of the New Notion of the “World History” (field of humanities)
We are offering the international community new perspectives on world history through comparative historical research in a wide range of fields, including the history of religion, the history of thought, art history, and military history. We introduce two seminars held on this project.
April 19, 2014 Research on Cultural Pluralism in Medieval and Early Modern Christian Worlds
“On Mystery Plays in Medieval Europe”
Speaker: Hiroaki Sugiyama (Assistant Professor, WIAS), Taku Kuroiwa (Associate Professor, Tohoku University)
Mystery plays were produced and performed by the medieval Catholic Church to educate the masses. During the Renaissance, however, responsibility for producing plays moved from monastic groups to the laity, and gradually these plays became large-scale productions. We know, for example, that performers would descend as if flying through the open space of the church, while Divine light erupted in a scattering of multicolored sparks. While the entertainment value of these plays rapidly increased, paintings from the period also reveal glimpses of fantastic elements that have nothing to do with realistic depictions. Imagine the impression it must have made on audiences to see angels dancing to a rondo in circular openings against a blue sky, or the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove fluttering in a beam of light radiating from an apostle? Given that mystery plays once drew tens of thousands of spectators at a time, there must have been some overlap between the audiences who attended plays and those who viewed paintings. By assuming an intersection between these two observation points, it becomes possible to conduct a far richer analysis of the ways in which paintings of that era were experienced.
October 18, 2014 Comparative Study of Honor, loyalty, and Patriotism in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century from Perspective of Military History
“Central and East Asian Ethnic Identities and National Allegiance in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries”
Speaker: Jin Noda (Associate Professor, WIAS), Akira Yanagisawa (Professor, Waseda University)
The history of the Qing Dynasty of China, which lasted from the mid-1800s to the end of the 1900s, raises a number of questions. When the concept of a single government for the entire empire was first broached, how did the various governed groups perceive the “Qing” state? Did they feel a sense of allegiance to that state? During this symposium, which examined parallel responses from different groups at the edges of the empire, Associate Professor Noda began by considering the nomadic Kazakhs of the northwest, and the process by which they were compelled to express allegiance, as their nomadic activities became part of the Qing Dynasty’s domain. Participants asked wide-ranging questions about topics such as Russia’s influence on the Kazakhs. Professor Yanagisawa’s report focused on the non-Manchu peoples of the Eight Banners, including the Solon and Chakhar, who used official reports to the throne and witness accounts to demonstrate that they were fulfilling their duties, while at the same time they retained multi-layered identities and relationships with both the Emperor and their homelands. This report also explored the military spirit (the theme of a co-sponsored research project), generating many questions from members of the audience.
The first volume in the WIAS Monograph Series, recently published by Routledge, is Corporate Crime in China by Professor Zhenjie Zhou (Beijing Normal University), a longtime friend of the Institute. Founded in 1836, Routledge is a major overseas publisher of academic books in the humanities and social sciences. Routledge is well known for distinguished publications on various subjects; it also provides online services and books in digital format.
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This section introduces some individuals who were researchers at this Institute and are now actively working at universities and companies. Below is a message from Dr. Yuka Kobayashi, who was at WIAS from October, 2007 to March, 2010.
Yuka Kobayashi (Principal researcher, National Institute for Materials Science)
My own specialty is the physical chemistry of molecular materials, which are prepared with organic synthesis. Low energy materials such as organic LEDs have recently attracted much attention, although the scientific history of organic electronic materials has been much less studied than that of non-organic materials, and many new capabilities are yet to be discovered in this field. While enrolled at WIAS for two and a half years (starting in the fall of 2007), I alternated between the departments of Applied Chemistry and Applied Physics, enjoying the opportunity to concentrate on the research of novel organic electronic materials, which became the foundation of my current work. Many phenomena dormant in molecular substances had not yet been explained by chemistry, and I believed that physics could be the key to uncovering those phenomena. However, my chemistry background made it difficult to find an opportunity to learn about this subject.
WIAS gave me this opportunity, as an Institute that affords its researchers a high degree of freedom and independence. With the support of WIAS, I was fortunate enough to realize this goal. At NIMS, where I currently work, I have carefully nurtured the seeds of research cultivated during my time at WIAS, and they have flourished. I feel blessed to be in a research environment with such excellent personnel and to have funding for four years (beginning in 2011) from the Cabinet Office’s large-scale Funding Program for the Next Generation of World-Leading Researchers (NEXT Program).
As I developed as a researcher, I found that knowledge and experience drawn from different fields improved the quality of my own research. WIAS is an organization for sophisticated researchers, and I very much hope that all who are currently enrolled at WIAS will enjoy this feature during their short time here. Finally, I am extremely grateful for the warm support and assistance I have received from Professor (then Director) Kuniaki Tatsuta of the Applied Chemistry Department and Professor Ichiro Terasaki of the Applied Physics Department (now at Nagoya University), who enabled me to make good use of my time at WIAS. I would like to take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude to them both.
> Click here for the profile of Dr. Kobayashi