31st JAWS Conference: Research on Japan in the (Post-)COVID-19 Era
Dates: July 6-9, 2022
Venue: Faculty of Translation and Interpreting, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB, Autonomous University of Barcelona) in Bellaterra (Cerdanyola del Vallès, Barcelona) & Casa Convalescència (UAB) in Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain)
The conference will be 100% face-to-face (except for online PhD students’ panels) and based around the global theme:
Research on Japan in the (Post-)COVID-19 Era
Since the last face-to-face JAWS Conference, held in Aarhus (Denmark) in April 2019, Japan left the Heisei era behind to fully enter the Reiwa era. The country commemorated the 10th anniversary of the March 2011 triple disaster, despite multiple unknowns remaining such as communities undergoing reconstruction and daily recovery. And, due to the global pandemic, Japan postponed the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games for a year, finally holding them in 2021 amid widespread social opposition in view of the need to concentrate government efforts on the ongoing fight against COVID-19.
Since Aarhus 2019, there can be no doubt that the COVID-19 crisis has shaken Japan more than any other event, as it has our research projects and personal realities, which have been affected by a pandemic that has seen our daily lives flooded by dystopian images. Concepts like ‘social distancing,’ ‘state of emergency,’ ‘lockdown’, and ‘contact tracing apps’ have become the norm in a resignified social context labelled as the ‘new normal,’ while throughout the world we have become accustomed to interpreting information and statistics on epidemic waves, antigen tests, and vaccination percentages.
These developments have added new and complex dimensions to the sense of uncertainty that Japan began to experience more than two decades ago, stoking the perception of the social and economic imbalances and inequalities of what has been described as a ‘disparity society.’ The transformations these new challenges require are as deep in magnitude as they are global in scope. Paradoxically, the Tokyo Olympic Games, originally conceived as a celebration of post-Fukushima national recovery in which a reinvigorated Japan was going to flaunt its international profile as a cultural superpower and global tourist destination, has ended up being an understated commemoration of an uncertain post-COVID recovery, despite the multiculturalist fantasy and discourse of universal gratitude and hope exhibited in its restrained opening ceremony.
With the state of affairs as it is, and bearing in mind that the JAWS Conference 2022 in Barcelona will be the first face-to-face meeting many of JAWS members will attend since the beginning of the pandemic, there is little doubt the meeting should be dedicated to reflecting on what Japan, and by extension our research on its social and cultural realities, are going through. Our ultimate aim is to broadly examine the ongoing impact and effects, as well as the immediate consequences and implications of the COVID-19 crisis for both Japanese society at large and, more specifically, our research projects.
This is an explicitly and deliberately open theme, chosen to allow all members of JAWS –from different research interests and various stages of their academic careers– to have a space to discuss and renew our shared endeavours regarding the Anthropology of Japan in the (Post-)COVID-19 era. This comes after all the difficulties we have faced (funding, cancelled projects, postponed fieldwork, etc.), but also the new opportunities that have emerged (online research, remote fieldwork, digital meetings, etc.) over the last two years. We, therefore, welcome the submission of individual papers and panel proposals related to this broad theme, so that together we can build a relaxed and productive scholarly environment in Barcelona, focused on the Anthropology of Japan.
By the same token, and despite the conference’s deliberately open theme, the submission of any individual paper and panel proposal that is not directly related to this subject, is also more than welcome, as is customary at the JAWS conferences. The JAWS Conference is a scholarly meeting of the Japan Anthropology Workshop (JAWS). JAWS is an international academic association concerned with furthering the field of anthropology of Japan.
Scientific Committee: Blai Guarné (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), Marcos Centeno (Birkbeck, University of London & Universitat de València), Makiko Fukuda (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), Alba Serra-Vilella (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona).
Organising Committee: Blai Guarné, Alba Serra-Vilella, Kei Matsushima, Adrià Caravaca (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)