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Minpaku Special Research Projects

Minpaku Special Research Projects

Minpaku Special Research Project is a research program organized independently by National Museum of Ethnology, in collaboration with universities and other research institutes in Japan and overseas. Based on domestic and international academic research trends and social demands, Minpaku Special Research Project aims to create new academic fields by enhancing interdisciplinary research. During the six years of the third mid-term goals period, starting in FY2016, we adopted the umbrella theme of “Contemporary Civilization and the Future of Humanity: Environment, Culture, and Humans.” For this, we undertook solution-focused approaches to tackle urgent challenges facing our contemporary civilization.

During the six years of the fourth mid-term goals period beginning in FY2022, five research projects will be conducted under the umbrella theme of “Ethnic Groups and Ethnicity in the Post-Nationalist Era.” The research adopts a holistic perspective to the processes of the reconfiguration of ethnic groups and ethnicity in the post-nationalist era. This perspective will include culture, politics, religion, society, environment, and history. In this way, we aim to present new approaches that will contribute to the realization of a diverse and inclusive society where all people respect each other and live together regardless of cultural differences.

The fourth mid-term goals period
Theme: “Ethnic Groups and Ethnicity in the Post-Nationalist Era”

Challenges for Museums in the Era of Post-Nationalism ― Methods of exhibiting minority and indigenous cultures (April 2022-March 2025)
  • Theme Category : Ethnicity and Museums
  • Project Leader: SUZUKI Motoi
Understanding Conflicts Involving the Wills and Intentions of Individuals, Affiliate Groups, and the Nation-State, and the Realization of a Nation-State Comprising Diverse Ethnic and Cultural Group (April 2023-March 2026)
  • Theme Category : Ethnicity and the Nation-State
  • Project Leader: NOBAYASHI Atsushi
The Politics of Roots and the Arts/Techniques of Coexistence: Ethnicity and histories in the post-nation-state era (April 2024-March 2027)
  • Theme Category : Ethnicity and History
  • Project Leader:MATSUO Mizuho
Ethnicities and Religions – The entanglements of exclusivity and inclusivity (April 2025-March 2028)
  • Theme Category : Ethnicity and Religion
  • Project Leader : NARA Masashi
Political Violence, Conflict, and Ethnicity (April 2026-March 2029)
  • Theme Category:Ethnicity and Violence
  • Project Leader : NIWA Norio

The third mid-term goals period
Theme: “Contemporary Civilization and the Future of Humanity: Environment, Culture and Humans”

Family potential in uncertain times: mobility, technology, and body (April 2021-March 2024)
  • Theme Category: Humans
  • Project Leader: MORI Akiko, NAKAGAWA Osamu

A Comparative Studies on the Cultural Immune Systems against Covid-19 (December 2020 – March 2024)
  • Special Theme Category
  • Project Leader:SHIMAMURA Ippei
Performing Arts and Conviviality (April 2018 – March 2023)
  • Theme Category : Humans
  • Project Leader : TERADA Yoshitaka, FUKUOKA Shota
Past Project (The third mid-term goals period)

The fourth mid-term goals period
Theme: “Ethnic Groups and Ethnicity in the Post-Nationalist Era”

About “Ethnic Groups and Ethnicity in the Post-Nationalist Era”

As globalization progresses with its large-scale movements of peoples, ethnic conflicts and divisions have been intensifying worldwide. Current issues include racism, anti-immigration, minority oppression, ethnic violence, and genocide. Japan is no exception. Although local governments are promoting multicultural coexistence measures, the problems of foreign workers, hate speech against certain ethnic groups, and discrimination against ethnic minorities remain unresolved, and in fact appear to be worsening.

These ongoing problems on a global scale are not only caused by the movements and migrations of people, but also by the declining status and influence of nation-states. Since established states have become unable to maintain their existing systems of managing inter-ethnic relations, there is now more fluidity to meanings, boundaries, and usages of the categories of “ethnicity,” which have carried different meanings at various historical periods and in different societies. Another factor may be the dismantling, and sometimes dissolution, of categories such as family, community, nation, gender, religion, class, etc., which have been intertwined with ethnicity and have ordered the social world. There has also been a blurring of the boundaries between these categories and concepts of ethnicity

This research aims to present new approaches for analyzing these issues related to ethnicity. These holistic viewpoints will include cultural, political, economic, social, environmental, and historical aspects, analyzing these within the processes of “ethnic” reconfiguration in the post-nationalist era. This research will describe the processes of interactions at the boundaries between ethnic groups in specific regions, the reclassification of ethnic groups by nations under changing international conditions, and the production of new ethnic identities that transcend national borders. A comparative investigation will be made of the functions of the new “ethnic” categories that emerge in these processes, and the intertwining of various discourses, practices, and institutions that produce such categories in the form of their effects. Focusing on the nation-state, museums, history, religion, and violence, we aim to propose a new anthropological approach to solve problems for the realization of a diverse and inclusive society where all people respect each other and live together regardless of cultural differences.

The third mid-term goals period
Theme: “Contemporary Civilization and the Future of Humanity: Environment, Culture and Humans”

About “Contemporary Civilization and the Future of Humanity: Environment, Culture and Humans”

The Western civilization constructed with sciences, technologies, politico-economic systems, social organization, and ideologies that originated in modern Europe has been believed to influence many other countries and areas of the world. Likewise, scientific and technological developments have been believed to enrich the human lives and societies. However, we can also argue that the price for this civilization in the form of population explosion, environmental destruction, war, resource depletion, water shortage, air pollution, and more. This has been a huge burden on human societies. Environmental destruction and population explosion are major challenges that need to be resolved. The former is apparent in all aspects of human life, from living space, to food supply and biodiversity to wars, pollution, global warming and disasters. Population explosion is a two-sided problem: the world’s population will exceed 10 billion in 2060 and approach the Earth’s environmental carrying capacity of 12 billion in 2100. In developed nations, fewer births and aging population have brought about significant difficulties in the sustenance and survival of families and human groups.

Against this backdrop, we position the Special Research as research focusing on the analyses of, and solutions to, challenges faced by contemporary human societies. It is necessary to, hypothesize cultural phenomena that way directly and indirectly cause global-scale changes in environmental problems and the world’s population, and to rethink contemporary civilization from the point of view of ‘wisdom’ of local communities that have responded to the civilizations. The aim is to answer the question on how we could create, from the conventional (traditional) set of values, a society that guarantees the coexistence of multiple sets of values and to present a vision of a future focused on the solutions of the problems that the human societies can select, by approaching the research subject as a contemporary system of problems in the multi-tier living space comprising the global space, community space, and societal space.

Past Core Research Projects