The University of Iowa

March 2 WorldCanvass Travels to Japan

February 16th, 2012
Joan Kjaer

Japan’s fascinating history, traditions, religious and spiritual expressions, economic achievements, and present-day challenges will be the topic of our next WorldCanvass. Join us at 5 p.m. on March 2 in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol Museum in Iowa City for this free event.

An ancient culture and the most modern of nations, Japan is comprised of 6,852 islands and holds the world’s tenth-largest population (over 127 million people). Greater Tokyo is the largest metropolitan area in the world, with over 30 million residents. Japan has the world’s third-largest economy as measured by GDP and the longest life expectancy of any country in the world. Long an actor on the international stage, Japan’s relationship with the U.S. has ranged from cordial and cooperative to adversarial in the extreme, facing one another as warring enemies. Its delicate arts and iconic architecture are known and treasured all over the world, and still many of us have done little but scratch the surface of Japan.

Stephen Vlastos will open WorldCanvass with a broad overview of Japanese history and culture. He’ll also share some of his current research into the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII; representations of Japanese people and culture in Hollywood cinema; and post-War Japanese national myth-making.

Melissa Ann-Marie Curley and Levi McLauglin will join Vlastos for a discussion of religion, tradition and the state. Curley will discuss Buddhist responses to modernity in Japan and the emergence of utopian thought under conditions of historical crisis or rupture, and McLaughlin will reflect on his anthropological field work among practitioners of the “New Religion.”

Japan’s post-War economic boom and more recent economic troubles will be discussed by Barrett Thomas, with particular emphasis on the Japanese corporate business model. And Ann Campbell, an expert on the logistics of disaster relief, will join McLaughlin to discuss the tragic tsunami of 2011 and its aftermath.

Connections between Iowa and Japan will be our focus in the final segment of the program. Carol Grant of Iowa Sister States will discuss Iowa’s relationship with Japan, reflecting on the past and looking toward the future. UI Japan Outreach Initiative coordinator Yume Hidaka will share stories and memories of her year-and-a-half stay in Iowa during which she’s exposed hundreds of students and citizens to her heritage. And Downing Thomas and Sonia Ryang of the UI will highlight the university’s long commitment to the teaching of Japanese language, history and culture as well as the 25th anniversary of International Programs’ Center for Asian and Pacific Studies.

Please join us for WorldCanvass: Japan on March 2.

Guests are: Stephen Vlastos, UI professor of History; Melissa Anne-Marie Curley, UI professor of Religious Studies; Levi McLaughlin, UI visiting postdoctoral scholar; Barrett Thomas, UI professor of Management Sciences; Ann Campbell, UI professor of Management Sciences; Downing Thomas, UI associate provost and dean of International Programs; Sonia Ryang, UI professor of Anthropology, director of the UI Center for Asian and Pacific Studies; Carol Grant, executive director of Iowa Sister States; and Yume Hidaka, Japan Outreach Initiative coordinator.