Annual Newsletter of the Slavic Research Center, Hokkaido University
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English News  No.12 , December 2004
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From the Director
Japan Consorthium fro Area Studies and the 21st Century Program
SRC Winter Symposium 2004 (Jan.)
SRC Summer Symposium 2004
International Symposium: Where Are Slavic Eurasian Studies Headed in the 21st Century?
International Conference, "The Status Law Syndrome"
Agreement with the Russian and Eurasian Studies Centre of the University of Oxford Program
Foreign Visitors Fellowship Program
The 21st Century COE Foreign Visitors Fellowship Program
Commemorative Lecture and Farewell Party for Professor INOUE Koichi's Retirement
Welcoming Mr. MAEDA Hirotake
Our Current Staff
Ongoing Cooperative Research Projects
Guest Lectures from Abroad
Visitors from Abroad
Publications (2003-04)
The Library
Web Site Access Statistics
At a Memorial Party
INOUE Koichi
Victor Shnirelman
Paul Werth

Japan Consortium for Area Studies and the 21st Century Program: New Environments and Possibilities Surrounding the SRC

Since April 2004 the state universities in Japan are legally no more "state" universities. They were formally transformed into "independent" or "quasi-private" universities. We, the post-etatist universities, however, still do not know the answers to "Where are we headed?" and "Do we want to be a fully private university, or to stay half way between the state guardianship and the private independence?" The research objects of the SRC, the post-communist countries and regions, could give us lessons on how to manage quasi-privatization.

The privatization is, however, only one of many new factors we face in these years. Here, I introduce two recent developments, which can be positive: one is the Japan Consortium for Area Studies (JCAS <>) and the other is the 21st Century COE (Center of Excellence) Program of Research and Educational Grants by the Ministry of Education (COE Program).

The establishment of the JCAS is a really new development this year in Japan, and the SRC is one of the four core members. The other core members are the Research Institute of Cultures and Languages of Asia and Africa (Tokyo University of Foreign Studies), the Center of Southeast Asian Studies (Kyoto University), and the Japan Center of Area Studies (National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka). The directors of the core members are also members of the executive committee of the JCAS, which includes four more members recruited from the Department of Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies (the University of Tokyo), the Institute of Developing Economies (Japan External Trade Organization), Waseda University, and one of the COE program leaders.

The aim of the consortium is "promotion of interdisciplinary area studies through joint researches and joint investigations traversing nations and/or areas" and "to function as a foundation for integration of the Area Studies in general, encompassing humanities, social sciences, as well as natural sciences" <>. Area Studies have developed in Japan since the 1950s, and (though some were re-originated from pre-war and wartime institutes) many research centers and institutes were newly established one after another since the 1960s, being based dominantly in the state universities. The latest fashion, however, is to set up courses of Area Studies in the under- and post-graduate departments of the universities, not only the "state" universities, but also the rivate ones. Nevertheless, compared to the "established disciplines" such as politics, economics, and physics, Area Studies are still in the phase of developing in Japan, and interaction and cooperation among the various area studies has not been sufficiently realized. Therefore, the creation of the JACS across the area studies of various regions was expected and was actually adopted with nation-wide popularity. Thus the JCAS bridges almost all major state and private universities, involving nearly 60 organizations altogether, consisting of 32 research institutions, 8 post-graduate educational institutions, 8 varied research programs, 2 NGO-s, and 7 academic associations for area studies. The membership of NGOs may be unique and important for the consortium, because the JCAS can help the NGO volunteers who are increasing in number and working in more and more diverse regions of the world, requiring more specific local knowledge of the region in order to meet the needs of their work. In turn, with their involvement and input, area studies can develop more interactively.

Collaboration with the academic associations of area studies is, needless to say, very essential. The first annual meeting of the JACS in December 2004 provides a forum for the various academic associations to discuss how to develop area studies in Japan collaboratively with each other. Cooperation between the research institutions and the post-graduate schools is unconditionally significant and the one of the basic missions of the JCSA is to coordinate the cooperation between them.

In short, the JCAS can work to make a counterbalance to the university "privatization," which encourages each university to function more competitively against the other universities, and, consequently, motivates the people of the universities to work centripetally. The JCAS, on the contrary, could serve as a bridge over the privatizing universities for scholars and students. The JCAS compensates the competition, constructing networks among the members, which ensures them alternatives and involves them as alternatives in turn.

The second environment is the COE Program <>, which the SRC started last year under the title of "Making a Discipline of Slavic Eurasian Studies: Meso-areas and Globalization." Now the Ministry of Education finances about 300 COE programs nation-wide, covering every field of science, and Hokkaido University carries 12 COE programs among them. Being different from other academic grants, the COE programs were applied for by the university rectors. Therefore the COE programs are regarded as the representative academic projects of the universities, and the SRC's COE program is, in this context, one of those which symbolize the academic activities of Hokkaido University externally. This is one of the reasons why the program involves as many scholars from other departments of the university as those from the SRC. In other words, the program is conducted on a university-widebasis in manpower and organization. The headquarters of the university organizes so-called 21st Century COE symposia in Tokyo and in Sapporo for the purpose of showing the hottest scientific topics of the university to a popular audience every year. The SRC, however, being the national center of the specific research field, integrates the scholars and specialists into the COE program, not only university-wide but also, and mostly, nation-wide and internationally.

The program, cooperating with the SRC, just like twin sisters, coordinates various research projects; for example, the seminars of "Asia in Russia and Russia in Asia" led by T. Hara, "Central Eurasian Studies" led by T. Uyama, "East European Meso-area Studies" led by T. Hayashi. These seminars are held monthly or bi- or tri-monthly and they invite not only senior but also, and mainly, junior scholars from inside and outside of the university to give a paper, contributing to one of the basic aims of the COE program, that is, promoting the next generation of Slavic Eurasian Studies for national and international stadiums. For the same end, the program organizes an "International Workshop by Junior Scholars" annually under the supervision of K. Matsuzato. Another seminar for the same purpose was organized this summer, named "Workshop for the Next Generation of Specialists in North East Asia" led by N. Arai. The workshops provide unique opportunities for PhD candidate students and post-doctoral scholars to exchange opinions among themselves across university and state borders.

Besides these seminars and workshops, the research oriented groups are working in the program, covering, for instance, the History of modern Russian thought run by S. Sugiura, the Diversity of Russian society in historical perspective studied by T. Kuryuzawa, Informatics of Russian literature led by A. Ando, Post-modern and globalizing Russian culture and literature led by T. Mochizuki, Comparative studies of educational reforms in Russia organized by S. Tokoro, Czech-German cultural relations led by S. Hashimoto, Neighboring and periphery economies of the enlarged EU managed by E. Yoshino, Russo-Islamic relations in historical perspective coordinated by K. Morimoto, Meso-areas and international public goods studied by T. Sasaki, Georgian and wider Caucasian relations led by T. Maeda, Russo-Sino international relations led by A. Iwashita, Comparative regional studies of Central Europe in a wider perspective led by A. Taguchi, Slavic Eurasia and the World System studied by N. Yamashita, Changing post-communist countryside led by R. Yamamura, Russian and CIS economies and globalization led by S. Tabata, and so on.

The key concept of the research program is Meso-areas. The last winter symposium of the center focused on this issue a year ago, entitled "Emerging Meso-Areas in the Former Socialist Countries. Histories Revived or Improvised?" The organizer of the symposium, K. Matsuzato, is editing the book including the papers given in the conference, and the book will be published in Spring 2005, being also downloadable on the website. One of the papers, providing the key note of the symposium, is already available on the SRC's website; O. Ieda, "Regional Identities and Meso-Mega Area Dynamics in Slavic Eurasia: Focused on Eastern Europe" <>

Presenting more and other information of the activities on the website <>, the COE program and the SRC are open for anyone who is interested in academic cooperation and links from all over the world. Thank you.

IEDA Osamu

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