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Asian studies course inspires student research in Japan
February 17, 2009
Assistant Professor of Political Science Kathy Tegtmeyer Pak and four St. Olaf students will travel to Japan this summer to perform research funded by a grant they recently received from the ASIANetwork Freeman Student-Faculty Fellowship Program.
|The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 detonated almost directly above the Genbaku Dome. The structure is part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, one of the sites students visited last Interim that inspired their research project.|
This research project grew directly from an Asian Conversations Interim course Tegtmeyer Pak taught last year titled "National Identity in China and Japan." During their time in Japan, class members visited sites such as the Kyoto Museum for World Peace at Ritsumeikan University and the Yushukan war museum at the Yasukuni Shrine. Some students, including Kelsey Menninga '10, also visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. One of the many differences Menninga noticed is that while the museum in Hiroshima translated most displays into three or four languages, many displays at the Yushukan war museum did not include translations. "The contrasts between the two museums were what really caught my eye," says Menninga, a music and Asian studies major with a concentration in Japan studies.
Wright, a mathematics and Asian studies major with a concentration in Japan studies, says she's particularly interested in examining how the Japanese government frames the Asia-Pacific War (World War II) in a historical narrative. "I believe that the way the war narrative is constructed in Japan can tell us something about the way nation-states in general construct their war narratives," she says. "For example, I'd like to examine why certain events are chosen to be remembered and why others are forgotten."
Tegtmeyer Pak says the Asian Conversations course that inspired this research project required students to use their language skills while studying in Asia and prepared them to develop a proposal to perform original research. "I think the project demonstrates the great things that can come from combining language study with our international Interim classes," she says.
When the students have completed their research, they will present it at the 2010 ASIANetwork Conference and submit their write-up for publication.
The ASIANetwork and Freeman Foundation provide these student-faculty fellowships in an effort to support student research in Asia under the close supervision of a faculty mentor. ASIANetwork is a consortium of more than 170 North American colleges that aims to strengthen the role of Asian studies within the framework of a liberal arts education.