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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

 

Below is a list of current Japanese Studies PhD and MPhil students and a brief description of their research

PhD


Tom Booth
Supervisor: Professor Mickey Adolphson

Tom's research explores the causes and motivations of popular unrest in medieval Japan. He is particularly interested in exploring historical methods of approaching the study of protest, and in grappling with questions of structure and agency. His research will be based primarily on the diary entries of monks and noblemen living in Kyoto and Nara, bakufu edicts, and the limited record of events produced by the protesters themselves.

 


Mi Kwi Cho
Supervisor: Professor Barak Kusner

Post-war immigration and discrimination in Japan, focussing on zainichi Koreans.

My research interest lies in the study of the Japanese minority groups, with a focus on the zainichi Korean community. The period of my research is the end of the Meiji era to the beginning of the Taisho era where the migration of zainichi Koreans to Japan became apparent.

 


Rashaad Eshack
Supervisor: Professor Barak Kushner

Rashaad’s research examines the ways that education impacts Japanese diasporic identity construction in Japanese-American, Nikkei, communities. He aims to develop a transnational, historical dissection of the international, national, and community forces that influence the formation of education systems available to Japanese-American children, and the ways in which those schools impact migrant identity. To that end, and in order to transcend a bilateral US-Japan focus in Japanese diaspora studies, he incorporates sources from the US, Japan, and Latin America.

 


Freddie Feilden
Supervisor: Dr Laura Moretti

Freddie is looking at strategies of adaptation in 19th-century Japanese popular literature, with a particular focus on picturebook genres such as yomihon and gōkan. Through analysing the transformations in content and format, he aims to clarify the connections between narrativity, temporality, text and image on the page - ultimately as a means of considering what these creative rewritings may tell us about the relationship between commercial publication and the evolution of readership from late Edo through into the Meiji period.


Giulia Garbagni
Supervisor: Dr John Nilsson-Wright

Japan's Postwar Envoy Diplomacy in Southeast Asia

 

Giulia’s PhD research topic will be looking at Japan's envoy diplomacy and its role in regional conflict mediation post-1945.
 


Helen Magowan
Supervisor: Dr Laura Moretti

Nyohitsu - the construction of femininities through writing
Helen is investigating women’s writing in premodern Japan. Japanese writing, its calligraphic scripts, letterforms, vocabulary and expression, had gendered aspects which affected - and continue to affect - the manner and form in which people express themselves. My research focusses on manuals published in the 17th century teaching women how to write in a ‘feminine’ mode, asking what they tell us about femininities in the early-modern period.

 


Mina Marković
Supervisor: Professor Barak Kushner

Imperial and Post-imperial Japan and population policies

 

Mina’s research will look at connections between Japanese political and legal history and demographics. The research aims to show how Japan’s rapid modernisation post-1868 affected the livelihood of individuals in terms of migration and reproduction. Japanese history will be examined from the perspective of state and nation building during imperial times and through government plans for reconstruction and population in post-war Japan.
 


Guy Pinnington
Supervisor: Dr Vicky Young

Guy’s research uses literature to address attitudes to Zainichi Koreans in postwar Japan; paying particular attention to 2nd generation Zainichi author Yang Seok-il. In his PhD Guy will expand on this and examine the interrelationship between three writers: Yang Seok-il, Kim Sok-pom, and Yi Hoesong, and scrutinise the ways in which they have come to create the canon of Zainichi Korean literature through writings.

 


Ria Roy
Supervisor: Dr John Nilsson-Wright

Charismatic leadership; North Korea; religion versus secularism.

As a Gates Cambridge scholar and a PhD candidate in Korean history with a broader academic interest in Japan and East Asia, I am eager to delve deeper into the question of the manufacture of charisma in North Korea and to trace its transformation from a state committed to Marxist-Leninist views to one that propagates a semi-mystical view of leadership.
 

 


Colton Runyan
Supervisor: Professor Mickey Adolphson

Ascending via Awase: Competitions in Heian Japan

 

Colton’s PhD research topic concerns the world of premodern sumo wrestling. Specifically he will be looking into the role of the sumo at court, the motivation of the wrestlers, and how sumo was viewed by its spectators. Using sources from the twelfth century onwards Colton’s research will examine the rise, fall and subsequent rise again of sumo; from popularity as a court spectacle, through relative obscurity, to a cultural phenomenon of the Modern era. 
 


Polina Serebriakova
Supervisor: Professor Mickey Adolphson

Sources of legitimacy for warrior leaders in medieval Japan

 

Polina’s research is centred around the concept of tenka (天下 Chinese: tianxia) or the realm, that originated in Chinese Classics and has become an integral part of Japanese culture. Specifically, she will investigate how the warrior rulers interpreted this idea as a means of legitimacy and used it to justify their policies and conquests during the course of Japanese medieval history from 12th to 16th century. By juxtaposing geographical and political aspects of tenka Polina seeks to understand which higher authority the idea of the realm was connected to at each historical period in premodern Japan. Questions of sovereignty and rulership shall also be explored.
 

 


Chui-Jun Tham
Supervisor: Professor Mickey Adolphson

Ruling the Dead: Spirit Pacification and Regime Legitimation in Japan and China c.1350-1650

Jun’s project aims to interrogate how routes to power are represented in popular narratives in early modern East Asia. The investigation has two objectives. The first is to understand how people were thought to obtain power, power being defined as extraordinary influence over events. The second is to discover what role and meaning religious elements had in narratives where people obtained power. It is hoped that investigating these questions will contribute to scholarly discourse on two broader questions: what is the relationship between religion and power in early modern East Asia, and how does this change the way in which we understand religion as a universal analytical concept?


Ivan Triola
Supervisor: Professor Mickey Adolphson

The role of charisma in shaping New Japanese Religions

My PhD research focuses on the role of charisma in the development of New Japanese Religions, especially on Oomotokyo's off-shoot movements, under the supervision of Prof. Mikael Adolphson.

 


Weijun Xu
Supervisor: Dr John Nilsson-Wright

My research focuses on the influence of nationalism on foreign policies. I’m trying to explain why a country/region whose regime legitimacy largely depends on nationalism sometimes adopt policies that are not in line with nationalist opinions when it falls into disputes with another country/region? And I mainly concern about the countries and regions in East Asia.

 

 


Jie Yang
Supervisor: Dr John Nilsson-Wright

Morality in East Asian Politics

 

Jie’s research explores whether morality plays a role in state interaction with one another in the East Asian region; and if it does, what are the specific moral principles and whether they are different with moral principles discussed in conventional (Western) International Relation Theory.

 

 


Jonathan Yeung
Supervisor: Professor Barak Kushner

Jonathan intends to investigate how nationalistic identities developed amongst a Chinese student community in Tokyo of the early 20th century. By examining student publications as well as official documents and records, Jonathan hopes to place the students’ explorations of identity in a global context, and elucidate the impact of the students’ experience of Japan on wider events happening in China.

 

 

 


MPhil


Peter Adolfsson

Peter’s research will look at Japan’s contemporary relationship with Africa and the policy aims it has on the continent, in the context of Chinese competition.

 

 


March Chen

Mark’s research will look at the development of chemistry in Meiji Japan, focusing on its evolution as an academic subject in general and in higher education.

 

 


Tian Gao

 

Tian will look for patterns in the roles played by Yōkai in Kusazōshi, to include cognitive, emotional and educational applications, helping to offer a deeper analysis of these roles and patterns clarifying how authors in the Edo period viewed childhood and explored the interaction of nature and humanity.

 

 

 

 


Melissa Lewis
 

Melissa’s research focuses on Japanese video games, and on analysis of them in a cultural context. Her MPhil dissertation will read The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild as trauma literature and situate the game's themes alongside other post-3.11 writing.

 


Hester Mullen
 

Hester’s research will look at AI storytelling in Japanese science fiction literature, and the way in which Japanese SF authors use cinematic, and visual techniques in their writing.