Synopsis of the Tokyo Workshop “Research Design and Practice in Transnational Asian Studies”

by Marc Paschke

Area Ruhr’s interdisciplinary workshop on ‘Research Design and Practice in Transnational Asian Studies’ took place from September 18th – 24th 2019 in Tokyo. It was organized in cooperation with the Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies, University of Tokyo.

The workshop aimed at learning and discussing how to constitute suitable research designs for the projects of Area Ruhr’s second cohort doctoral students and the graduate students from the University of Tokyo, as well as facilitating interdisciplinary and transnational exchange among researchers and students. This event also marked the commencement of fieldwork for the research projects of Area Ruhr’s doctoral students from the second cohort.

Together with graduate students from the University of Tokyo, Area Ruhr’s doctoral students presented their research designs and fieldwork plans. They also received critical comments from professors and advanced researchers from various institutions in Japan and Germany. Area Ruhr’s faculty members such as Prof. Flemming Christiansen (University of Duisburg-Essen), Prof. Axel Klein (University of Duisburg-Essen), Prof. Nele Noesselt (University of Duisburg-Essen), Prof. Katja Schmidtpott (University of Bochum) and Prof. Karen Shire (University of Duisburg-Essen) attended the workshop to share their approaches and experiences in conducting transnational research in various fields. Prof. Kaori Hayashi from the University of Tokyo also shared her expertise on the Japanese landscapes. In addition, the workshop welcomed several guest speakers and commentators from research institutions in Japan such as Prof. Akiko Shimizu (University of Tokyo), Prof. Stephen R. Nagy (International Christian University, Tokyo) and Principal Researcher Torsten Weber (German Institute for Japanese Studies, Tokyo).

The cross-disciplinary design of the workshop made it an enriching experience both in expanding one’s horizon and in learning how to communicate research topics across disciplines to various audiences.

In the evenings and on the weekend, participants also had the chance to explore different parts of Tokyo and the surrounding areas. In one of the excursions, the participants were taken to the old Chinese quarter at Yokohama bay, existing since the opening of Yokohama as a port to foreign trade in 1859.

Overall, the enriching and insightful workshop has not only given its’ participants useful knowledge and practical guidelines for successful field research but also cultivated a foundation for further cooperation between Area Ruhr and research institutions in Japan.