UNC, Duke, N.C. State launch Japanese studies center

Three universities have launched a Triangle Center for Japanese Studies that will support fellowships, research, seminars, travel, guest speakers and library development.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State and Duke universities will partner in the center, founded by a $270,000 grant from the Japan Foundation in Tokyo. The center, described at http://trianglejapan.org/, will continue to seek funding for collaborative endeavors in research, community outreach and education.

“The intent is to serve as an umbrella over the activities that are already happening at N.C. State, Duke and UNC relating to Japan, and to call attention to the strength and depth of those activities collectively,” said Morgan Pitelka, center director and associate professor of Asian studies in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Interest in Japanese language and culture is growing in the United States, Pitelka said. He said he hopes the center can build on and support student and community interest with research and learning opportunities.

The center offers $2,500 research travel grants to faculty and graduate students at the three universities and $750 travel grants to scholars from other universities to come to the three partnering institutions to conduct research.

Faculty collaborating in the center are from fields including history, anthropology, art history and Asian studies, language and literature.

“By bringing together the resources of all three universities, we are building strength as a collective,” Pitelka said. “Our region offers diverse Asian cultural influences and a remarkable concentration of scholars who study Asia. I’ve been excited to find so many researchers to collaborate with in the areas of modern Japan, the Japanese empire and the relationship between Japan and Korea.”

Upcoming center events include those listed below. Details, with additional times and places, will be posted at http://trianglejapan.wordpress.com/events/.

  • Oct. 3, 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., York Room, 229 Gray Building, Duke West Campus: Lori Meeks, associate professor of religion and East Asian languages and cultures at the University of Southern California, will present “Making Sense of the Blood Bowl Sutra: Early-Modern Commentaries on Women’s Salvation in Japanese Buddhism.”
  • Oct. 24-25, N.C. State: Narita Ryuichi of Japan Women’s University and six colleagues from Japan will lead the workshop “Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Power from the Perspectives of History, Literature and Cultural Studies.”
  • Oct. 26, Duke: Representatives of Duke’s Asian and Middle Eastern studies department will present a workshop on colonial Korea in the Japanese empire.
  • Nov. 18, UNC: Alex Bay of Chapman University will discuss “Nation from the Bottom Up: Disease, Toilets and Waste Management in Modern Japan.”