Pluralising the Sources of Knowledge about the Climate Crisis: Insights from Japan

Online event - Sainsbury Institute

Tuesday 13 July, 2021
1:00pm BST - 2:30pm BST

On one hand, the nation-states’ control over linguistic unification and terminological inventions has facilitated communication among diverse cultural groups of humanity. On the other hand, the predicament of the method resides in the fact that the historical roots to technological and scientific research derive from an existential worldview that favors human supremacy over non-human ‘resources.’ Then, what happens when the site of knowledge making moves away from nation-states and find itself in non-state actors’ localised, everyday sources of knowledge?

There exist conceptions of ecology, the environment, and the climate crisis outside the official channels of nation-states. The roundtable brings together historian, geographer, artist, and environmental lawyer to discuss the non-state translation and conceptualisation of key notions pertinent to global research of the climate crisis. It does so by exploring insights from studies of Japan. While interrogating the subject through the specific Area Studies framework, the event simultaneously joins the increasing call for creating a global research method of the climate crisis that honours plural understandings of human’s existential relationship to the planet.

This event is free to attend, but registration is required. Register here.


Isabelle GIRAUDOU (Environmental Lawyer)

Isabelle is an Associate Professor at the University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Organization for Programs on Environmental Sciences. After a doctorate in International Law (Paris 2 University) and a post-doctorate in Comparative Environmental Law (University of Tokyo), she taught at several universities in Japan. Between 2008 and 2012, she was researcher at the French Research Institute on Japan at Maison franco-japonaise (Tokyo) established by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and associated with the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). Environmental legal studies, disaster law, and contemporary legal thought are her main teaching areas. Focusing on post 3-11 Japan, her current research project examines how environmental legal education and legal practice engage with the ‘Anthropocene’ scientific proposal and thought experiment.

Eiko HONDA (Historian)

Eiko specialises in intellectual history of modern Japan and is the 2021 Robert & Lisa Sainsbury Fellow at SISJAC. She is interested in the ways in which the Humanities impacted the articulation of modern scientific ‘truths’ within the wider contexts of social, political, and the ecological crisis. Her research agenda received the Grand Prize at the Toshiba International Foundation’s 30th Anniversary Essay Contest in 2019. At SISJAC, she works on a monograph manuscript tentatively entitled The Emergence of Queer Nature: Minakata Kumagusu (1867-1941) and the Making of Microbial Paradigm, 1887-1900. She was one of the founding members of the interdisciplinary research network the Climate Crisis Thinking in the Humanities and Social Sciences during her DPhil at University of Oxford. Prior to her DPhil training in History at Oxford, she worked as a curator and writer of contemporary art and ideas with the support of Curatorial Fellowship awarded by Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs (2013-2016).

Daniel NILES (Geographer)

Daniel is a human-environmental geographer at the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, Kyoto, and creative director at Eocene Arts, a gallery specializing in Japanese traditional environmental arts. His research asks how different forms of traditional environmental knowledge remain sensible through time, and the continuing relevance of these longstanding fields of experience to the challenges of the Anthropocene. He has served as Visiting Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin; Visiting Researcher at the Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley; and consultant in agricultural heritage for the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. Publications include Anthropocene and Asia: Investigation, Critique, and Contribution from the Environmental Humanities Perspective (edited with Masahiro Terada, in Japanese, Kyoto University Press, 2021), “The charcoal forest: sensing the agencies of nature” (in Forms of Experienced Environments, Cambridge Scholars Press, 2020), and “World in a basket: material culture, ecology, aesthetics” (forthcoming 2021 in Techniques&Culture).

Attendees may also wish to visit the gallery Eocene Arts, who have supported Daniel’s research.

Eiko SOGA (Artist)

Eiko is currently reading for DPhil at The Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford. Through ethnography-led art practices, she explores the interrelationships among historical, cultural, emotional, and natural landscapes and how an art can embody felt knowledge of more than the human world. Soga is a graduate of MFA Sculpture at the Slade School of Fine Art, and MSc Japanese Studies at University of Oxford where she studied Sociology, Anthropology, and Modern Japanese Literature. She is an associate lecturer at Chelsea College of Arts in London, and participates in projects at University of Art in Berlin (UdK). 

Nadine WILLEMS (Historian)

Nadine joined UEA in 2016 after obtaining a PhD in History from the University of Oxford.  She specialises in the intellectual and cultural history of modern Japan, with a focus on the politics and literature of dissent during the first decades of the twentieth century. Her first monograph, Ishikawa Sanshirō’s Geographical Imagination: Transnational Anarchism and the Reconfiguration of Everyday Life in Early Twentieth Century Japan, is based on her PhD thesis and was published by Leiden University Press in 2020. Her current project examines Japan’s Siberian Intervention of 1918-1922 and how soldiers’ diaries shape the memory of the conflict.

Co-organised by Eiko Honda, Robert & Lisa Sainsbury Fellow at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures and the Climate Crisis Thinking in the Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Oxford as part of SISJAC’s Online Summer Programme.

In Partnership with the Climate UEA.

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