Behind the Scenes

Springtime and a fresh start

As well as being a sight of great beauty, the cherry blossoms of spring herald a time of transition. The beginning of April marks the start of the new academic, financial and employment year in Japan, and this latest e-magazine allows us to introduce some changes at the Sainsbury Institute as well.

As many of you already know, Mami Mizutori, who joined us as Executive Director in 2011, moved to Geneva at the start of March to take up a new post as Assistant Secretary-General and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). We are all delighted for Mami and wish her every success in her new role representing Japan at the highest international level.

One of Mami’s last actions as Executive Director was to appoint two new academics at the Sainsbury Institute. Dr Jennifer Coates (PhD SOAS 2014) joins us as Senior Lecturer in Japanese Arts, Cultures and Heritage in April. Jennifer is returning to the UK after four years stint at the Hakubi Centre for postgraduate research at Kyoto University. A specialist on film and gender studies, Jennifer will be taking the lead in our Contemporary Japanese Visual Media research strand. Her first book, Making Icons: Repetition and the Female Image in Japanese Cinema, 1945-1964 (2016) has already made a considerable impact in the field. Dr Eugenia Bogdanova-Kummer (PhD University of Heidelburg 2016) joins us in July as Lecturer in Japanese Arts, Cultures and Heritage. Eugenia is a specialist in modern calligraphy and will be further strengthening on our Japanese art history research strand. Jennifer and Eugenia will be working along with our academic team, including myself, our founding Director and now Research Director, Nicole Rousmaniere, and our Professor of Japanese Arts and Cultural Heritage, Toshio Watanabe, to enhance the Institute’s scholarly activities. We also bade farewell to Dr Sam Nixon, for three years our Senior Research Associate at the Centre for Archaeology and Heritage, who is going on to pursue his interests in African archaeology, and welcome Oscar Wrenn as our new Project Officer.

I am delighted to be taking over as Executive Director of the Sainsbury Institute at a pivotal moment in its history. I will be assuming this role while continuing as Director of the Centre for Japanese Studies at the University of East Anglia and heading up the Institute’s Centre for Archaeology and Cultural Heritage. As we prepare for the move in 2021 from our current premises in the Cathedral Close in the centre of our wonderful historic city of Norwich, to the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, modernist icon and cultural heart of the University of East Anglia currently celebrating its 40th anniversary, this dual role will help us ensure increasingly effective co-working with the University, as well as continuing to foster world-class collaborations with all of our research partners. The combined strengths of the Sainsbury Institute and interdisciplinary Japanese Studies at the University make Japan in Norwich a truly creative and dynamic hub for researching, teaching and engaging with Japan in many innovative and diverse ways.

Japanese arts and cultures is an increasingly vibrant field. We have just selected two new Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellows from one of the strongest and largest sets of applicants we have attracted in the eighteen years of this programme. And the first Ishibashi Foundation Summer School in Japanese Arts and Cultural Heritage, organised by the Centre for Japanese Studies and the International Programmes Office at UEA, has been oversubscribed by a factor of five. Over the coming months we will be giving careful consideration about how best to respond to this demand.

None of this activity would be possible without the dedication of our exceptional staff at the Sainsbury Institute, the openness and collegiality of our colleagues at UEA and our partner organisations, and the tremendous support we receive from all of our friends, funders and of course our Management Board. I look forward to working with you all to further the Institute’s mission.

Dr Simon Kaner
Executive Director, Sainsbury Institute
Director, Centre for Japanese Studies, UEA