Fun Link Friday: A History of the World in 100 Objects

Back in 2010, the British Museum put out a series of 100 short podcasts, using objects from their vast collection to highlight episodes or thematic aspects in world history.

Right: A helmet from Sutton Hoo, one of the most famous Viking finds in England. Photo my own.

Each 15-minute podcast, narrated by Neil MacGregor, director of the Museum, beautifully blends art history comments (e.g. on form, color, materials) with discussion of the object’s historical context, or broader thematic issues using the object as a jumping-off point. Many of the podcasts also feature top scholars in the field – such as Nicholas Thomas (Pacific Islands expert, U of Cambridge), talking about a feathered helmet given as a gift to Captain Cook from a Hawaiian chief.

The objects highlighted range widely, from a UAE credit card compliant with Sharia law and a contemporary Mozambique artwork (a chair or throne made from decommissioned automatic weapons), to ; from a chronometer carried on the HMS Beagle to a Ming Dynasty banknote. I think they’ve done a wonderful job of choosing objects from all around the world, and highlighting some of their most famous treasures, but also many less-famous works.

Amongst these one hundred objects selected out of the entire world’s history, I am a bit surprised to find more than one from Japan. But I am not surprised that one of them is the “Great Wave off Kanagawa” by Katsushika Hokusai. (The other three are Kakiemon ceramic elephants, a sacred bronze mirror, and a Jômon era pot.)

The podcasts are short (15 mins) and fun, and I’ve already begun to learn so much, not only about specific cultures, but also about thematic resonances, how the global economy was born and developed, for example. How to think about objects, how they look, how they are made, and how they interact with our lives.

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Call for Papers: Conference of European Association for Asian Art and Archaeology

call for papers [150-2]The Second Conference of
European Association for Asian Art and Archaeology
August, 24–27, 2017
University of Zurich, Switzerland

Deadline for submissions: November 15, 2016

Notification of acceptance: February 28, 2017

The Board of the EAAA is pleased to announce the call for paper for the 2nd EAAA conference to be held at University of Zurich, Switzerland, between 24th and 27th August 2017.

The conference is jointly organized by the European Association for Asian Art and Archaeology (EAAA) and the Section of East Asian Art History (KGOA) at the University of Zurich.

The University of Zurich is the only institution of higher learning in Switzerland where the subject of East Asian art history can be studied as a full program. Museum research constitutes an important part of the department’s activities and its broader aim is to promote the discipline of East Asian art history, both within Switzerland and within Europe. The KGOA is proud to host the conference as a founding member of the EAAA.

The purposes of the conference are to:

*  open dialogues between scholars of Asian art and archaeology and to offer a platform for the presentation and discussion of recent research
*  highlight the significance of Asian art and archaeology research
*  focus research on the many collections of Asian art in European collections and institutions;
*  revise historical approaches that have been prevalent in the study and research of Asian art and archaeology
*  elaborate existing art theories and methodology
*  form new research approaches and methods in Asian art and archaeology
Conference participation

Scholars of Asian art and archaeology from Europe and beyond are invited to submit their proposals for contributions on art and archaeology of China, Japan, Korea, South and Central Asia, as well as on art theory, methodology and museum research of these areas. Presenters are either established scholars (working at museums, universities, institutes or active as independent scholars) or junior scholars (holding MA or PhD degrees).

For details on submissions, please consult the EAAA homepage:

Further information

For more information on the EAAA and its conference, visit the EAAA website:

At a later date, suggestions for accommodations in Zurich and other information will be posted on the website.

For questions related to the conference, please contact Anna Hagdorn at:

For questions related to the EAAA, please contact Nataša Vampelj Suhadolnik at:

For any other question, contact conference host and chair:

Hans Bjarne Thomsen
University of Zurich

Organizational committee

Hans Bjarne Thomsen (KGOA, University of Zurich & EAAA)
Nataša Vampelj Suhadolnik (EAAA)
Anna Hagdorn (KGOA, University of Zurich)

Contact Info:

Hans Bjarne Thomsen
University of Zurich

Contact Email:
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Job Opening: Academic Coordinator, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University

job opening - 5Institution: Columbia University
Location: New York, NY
Posted: 07/14/2016
Type: Full Time
Education: High school diploma required
Job Requisition Number: 083728

Working in an international scholarly community and nationally-ranked program, the Academic Coordinator provides support for all student programs (undergraduate, MA, PhD, and summer) in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University.

Under the supervision of the Director of Academic Administration and Finance, the incumbent corresponds with faculty, staff, students, and prospective applicants, fielding all questions and exercising good judgment to provide excellent and efficient academic service.

Primary responsibilities include admissions, graduate student recruitment, course registration, curricular planning, departmental reporting, record-keeping, and coordinating department events. The Academic Coordinator maintains and curates the EALAC website and affiliated social media accounts.

Working with the Chair, Director of Graduate Studies, Director of Undergraduate Studies, and EALAC faculty and staff, the incumbent executes a variety of academic projects.

Assists with all other administrative duties as assigned.

Excellent communication (verbal and written) and organizational skills required. Must be able to prioritize multiple tasks with minimum supervision, work under pressure with changing deadlines, maintain confidentiality, and exercise good judgment. Great attention to detail and accuracy required. Must have strong interpersonal skills and be able to communicate effectively and tactfully with faculty, staff, students, and visitors. Computer proficiency required. Experience with Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, HTML, and social media is required.

Details at or Columbia.

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Job Opening: Coordinator I, Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies Harvard University

job opening - 5Institution: Harvard University
Location: Cambridge, MA
Type: Full time
Education: BA preferred
Posted 7/15/2016

Auto req ID: 39896BR
School/Unit: Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Department: Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies

Duties & Responsibilities:
This position is responsible for contributing to the day-to-day administrative operations of the Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies. Provides support to designated faculty, including calendar, correspondence, course materials, committees, publications, travel arrangements, and files. Manages Institute databases, sends communications to faculty, students, Institute affiliates, and others, and produces from the database labels, lists, letters, and other products as needed. Implements and coordinates event marketing, invitations, registration at multiple events including conferences/symposia, receptions, dinners, and other community-building events. Manages and coordinates postgraduate grant application process. Composes and edits, and prepares correspondence, reports, minutes, and other materials including the Institute’s annual report and newsletter. Assists in creating and enhancing the Institute’s online digital and social media presence. Develops and maintains good rapport with constituents in order to support and carry out Institute events/activities as part of a team.

Basic Qualifications:

  • 3-5 years administrative experience
  • Writing/editing experience
  • Computer skills including experience with Microsoft Office Suite, FileMaker Pro, Adobe Suite and social media services

Additional Qualifications:

  • BA degree strongly preferred
  • Excellent writing skills
  • Familiarity with/interest in Japanese culture.
  • Strong Japanese language skills preferred
  • Experience living/working in Japan preferred
  • Well-developed cross-cultural and interpersonal skills, communication skills

See full details on

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Funding: SSRC Transregional Research Fellowships

money [150-2]Accepting applications for two transregional research fellowships: the SSRC Transregional Research Junior Scholar Fellowship: InterAsian Contexts and Connections and the SSRC Global Summer Semester Residency at the University of Göttingen.

Contact Info:


Transregional Research Junior Scholar Fellowship:
InterAsian Contexts and Connections
Global Summer Semester Residency
at the University of Göttingen

Applications due September 19, 2016

The Social Science Research Council is pleased to invite preliminary applications for its recently expanded and enhanced Transregional Research Junior Scholar Fellowship, funded with generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Following on three successful grants cycles, through which more than fifty individual fellowships totaling nearly 2 million USD have been awarded, the SSRC is continuing its transregional grants program, offering a 2016 Junior Scholar grants competition and awarding approximately twenty grants of up to $45,000 to researchers in any world region.

In addition, working closely with the CETREN Transregional Research Network at the University of Göttingen in Germany, the SSRC is pleased to offer a new category of fellowship in 2016 – the SSRC Global Summer Semester Residency at the University of Göttingen (residency dates April 15, 2017–July 15, 2017).Note: this award is subject to final grant approval from the German Ministry of Education and Research.

These fellowships are aimed at supporting transregional research, strengthening the understanding of issues and geographies that do not fit neatly into existing divisions of academia or the world, and developing new approaches, practices, and opportunities in international, regional, and area studies. These fellowships help junior scholars (those at the postdoctoral stage, up to five years out of the PhD) complete first books and/or undertake second projects. In addition to funding research, the fellowships will create networks and shared resources that will support fellows well beyond the grant period through intensive workshops and activities that promote transregional perspectives on individual campuses. The Transregional Research Junior Scholar Fellowship and Global Summer Semester Residency will thus provide promising scholars support at critical junctures in their careers, advance transregional research, and establish structures for linking scholars across disciplines in the arts, the humanities, and the social sciences.

The broad intellectual thrust of the fellowships will continue to be InterAsian Contexts and Connections, or the reconceptualization of Asia as an interlinked historical and geographic formation stretching from West Asia through Eurasia, Central Asia, and South Asia to Southeast Asia and East Asia. In addition, applications that explore the networks that connect Asia with Africa are encouraged for the 2016 awards cycle. Proposals should bear upon processes that connect places and peoples across the boundaries of regions and countries (such as religion, migration/diaspora, media, literature and other arts, shared access to natural resources, cultural and economic continua, and resource flows), those that reconfigure local and translocal contexts (such as shifting borders, urbanization, and social movements), and those that are situated at the nexus of the global/regional/local (such as youth culture, tourist arts, illicit flows).

Invitational priorities for the 2016–2017 Transregional Research Junior Scholar Fellowship include:

  • Afro-Asian Connections
  • Environmental Humanities
  • Religious Networks
  • Migration & Refugees
  • Resources & Archives

This does not preclude proposals on other topics.

Invitational priorities for the 2017 Global Summer Semester Residencies include:

  • Movements of Knowledge
  • Media, Migration, and the Moving Political
  • Religious Networks

This does not preclude proposals on other topics that engage with existing research expertise at the University of Göttingen.

Transregional Research Junior Scholar Fellows will be selected through a two-part application process. Upon review of the preliminary applications submitted in September, the Selection Committee will invite select applicants to submit full narrative proposals in fall 2016. Fellowships will be awarded in spring 2017, and fellowship funds can be disbursed flexibly over the sixteen month period between April 1, 2017 and August 1, 2018.

Global Summer Semester Residency fellowships will be awarded in fall 2016.

The application processes, eligibility criteria, and award amounts vary across competitions. Applications and additional fellowship details, including former fellows’ research abstracts and answers to frequently asked questions, are available on the program website at:

Contact Email:
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Book Announcement: The Ryukyu Kingdom: Cornerstone of East Asia

A project many years in the works, University of Hawaiʻi Press is proud to announce (and I am excited to share with you all) the publication of Lina Terell & Bob Huey’s translation of Akamine Mamoru’s important monograph, 琉球王国~東アジアのコーナーストーン (Kôdansha, 2004). I am very excited to see more books on the Kingdom being published in English, and especially to see the Japanese-language scholarship being made more accessible, through such translation & publication projects.

From the University of Hawaiʻi Press website:

This English translation of a key work by one of Okinawa’s most respected historians, Mamoru Akamine, provides a compelling new picture of the role played by the Ryukyu Kingdom in the history of East Asia. Okinawa Island, from which the present-day Japanese prefecture derives its name, is the largest of the Ryukyu Islands, an archipelago that stretches between Japan and Taiwan. In the present volume, Akamine chronicles the rise of the Ryukyu Kingdom in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, when it played a major part in East Asian trade and diplomacy. Then Ryukyu was indeed the cornerstone in a vibrant East Asian trade sphere centered on Ming China, linking what we now call Japan, Korea, and China to Southeast Asia. With historical and cultural connections to both Japan and China, Ryukyu also mediated diplomatically between the two nations, whose leaders more often than not refused to deal with each other directly. But eventually the kingdom became a victim of its own success. Political developments in China and Japan starting in the sixteenth century brought great changes to the region, and in 1609 Ryukyu was invaded by Satsuma, Japan’s southernmost domain. The China-Japan geopolitical rivalry would in time be acted out within Ryukyu itself, as one faction strove to maintain ties with China while another supported union with rapidly modernizing Japan.

Throughout the work Akamine’s approach to Ryukyu history is distinguished by his expert use of Chinese and Korean sources, which allows him to examine events from several different angles. This contributes to a broad, sweeping narrative, revealing an East Asia made up of many shifting and interrelated parts—not just nation states pursuing their own interests. Akamine’s facility with Chinese texts in particular uncovers telling details that add considerably to the historical record. His meticulous account of one of Ryukyu’s tribute missions to China, for example, or the role of feng shui in the design of Shuri Castle, the royal and administrative center of the kingdom, is detailed without being pedantic. As a result, readers will come away with a broader, more informed understanding of Ryukyu’s significance in the region and the complexity of its relations with its neighbors.

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Call for Papers: Sasakawa USA Forum

call for papers [150-2]Sasakawa USA is proud to unveil the Sasakawa USA Forum, a new platform for research and analysis related to Japan and U.S.-Japan relations. In order to gain a more comprehensive view of U.S.-Japan relations, the Sasakawa USA Forum offers experts outside Sasakawa USA a chance to bring their work to a wide audience.

The Sasakawa USA Forum is now accepting submissions for its next publication. Submissions should be 750 to 2,000 words in length and written on issues that previously have been inadequately covered regarding Japan or U.S.-Japan relations in a bilateral, regional, or global context. Authors of accepted submissions will receive an honorarium of $500. Papers must be submitted by July 29, 2016.

The first papers to be published have dealt with climate change politics in Japan, the U.S.-Japan Alliance Coordination Mechanism, and future challenges in U.S.-Japan security cooperation. These papers are now online at, and more will be published soon.

To submit an article for consideration, please contact Graham Dietz at For more detailed information on submission, please visit Published writings are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Sasakawa USA.

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