ICU Professor Norie Takazawa, who specializes in modern French history, received a grant of ¥400,000 from the JICUF during the Fall Term to convene a workshop on “Considering Early Modern Society and Social Status from the Gender Perspective.” Professor Takazawa has been a part of a team of French and Japanese historians who have been collaborating since 2006. The team consists of Professors Takazawa, Nobuyuki Yoshida (Tokyo University, Japanese history), François-Joseph Ruggiu (Université Paris IV, Sorbonne, French history) and Guillaume Carré (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales [EHESS], Japanese history) among others. The first stage of their research focused on the comparative analysis of urban societies in Japan and France during the early modern period. This research led to the discovery of a new topic to explore, namely social status (especially women’s status) in the French Ancien Regime and Edo-Period Japan. For this workshop, Professor Takazawa invited Professor Fanny Cosandey of EHESS to address the relationship between women and social status in the early modern period.
The workshop took place on November 23rd (Wednesday) from 1pm to 6pm in the Administration Building at ICU. After the workshop, a reception was held in the Dialogue House. There were 31 participants in total, including seven ICU undergraduate and graduate students. Most participants were specialists of either Japanese or French history in the early modern period, based in universities across Japan, including Tokyo, Hitotsubashi and Kansai Universities.
During the workshop, Professor Cosandey gave a presentation on “Social Hierarchy as Political Leverage for the Ladies of the Court in 16th and 17th Century France.” Professor Yuriko Yokoyama of the National Museum of Japanese History and Professor Takazawa shared their comments and subsequently opened the floor to discussion. A Japanese translation of Professor Cosandey’s paper (produced by Professor Seriu of Tokyo University of Foreign Studies) was distributed to participants in advance. Professors Seriu and Brendan Le Roux (Japanese French comparative history) of Teikyo University provided interpretation, and the workshop was conducted in both Japanese and French.
Professor Takazawa shared her thoughts with us on the achievements of the workshop.
“There are many styles of international academic exchange. One is to invite many specialists and have them present their work. This style is effective in understanding the full scope of a problem. However, the style that we adopted for this workshop, which was to invite a single specialist to present and allow time for researchers with diverse backgrounds to discuss the topic, is also productive. The participating researchers focused on different regions and operated in different languages. This type of exchange leads to the discovery of new research topics and enables long-term research that produces creative outcomes. In this workshop, an up-and-coming French scholar who had just published her new work shared her findings and methodology in detail. This helped clarify the topics that our team should be focusing on next year.
This workshop also made it possible for French and Japanese historians to cultivate personal relationships in ICU’s wonderful environment. It contributed to elevate ICU’s position as a platform for an international academic network. That we were able to let ICU students witness the germination of new research was also an accomplishment. From next year onwards, we would like to hold a junior session in which ICU graduate students can present their work in English.”
Furthermore, Professor Takazawa offered the following general comment.
“As the organizer of this workshop at ICU, I was honored to receive many words of gratitude and positive feedback from all of the participants including Fanny. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the JICUF.
Over the last ten years, I have come to the realization that academic exchange in historical research leads to more inventive approaches when participants know each other personally and build a long-term relationship. This workshop was the culmination of such an exchange. Participants were able to be engaged in discussion, uninhibited by differences in nationality, generation, speciality or affiliation. In both Japan and France, it is rare for specialists of Japanese history and French history to exchange ideas on the same topic. Fanny as well as her partner and prominent historian Professor Alain Guéry of EHESS commented that they were deeply moved by such an experience. If we could connect the academic network we’ve built in Japan and France to the extensive academic network that other ICU faculty have in Asia and North America, it would significantly strengthen ICU’s commitment to internationalism. While holding events during the academic term facilitates the participation of students and faculty, the timing is not ideal for concentrating on research. This is an issue that needs to be addressed in the future.”
Professor Takazawa and her collaborators are planning to hold a large-scale symposium at ICU next year, and in Paris (Sorbonne or EHESS) in 2018.