Most of my research is dedicated to an ethnographic experiment of mapping differences and similarities on the move. This starts from the simple (but mostly overlooked) fact, that distinguishing between different things, bodies, cultures, persons or values is an ever changing engagement with those very elements. It is this fluid and partial mode of knowing which I mean to highlight by the notion of ‘metabologies,’ a concept that tries to establish permeability between embodied experience and technoscientific practices. Mind that the way I use it here, “metabologies” is a medical concept only as far as its place of origin is concerned. The consequences go beyond medicine.
Fields of Interest
- ethnographic theory
- medical anthropology
- science and technology studies (sts)
- anthropology of pharmaceuticals
- anthropology of food
- comparative methodology
Areas of Interest
Medicinal herbs. Currently, I am developing a project to investigate the co-constitution of things and values in the development and use of herbal medications in Japan and Southeast Asia. The alterity of Vietnamese, Japanese and/or Chinese medical traditions, and scientific explanations depends on the scale—global, local, regional, biological etc.—in which they deploy themselves: the industrial production of extracts that target global health problems; the micropropagation of engendered species in a laboratory; or the cultivation and naming of plants in a garden. By highlighting the entanglement of different medical traditions in the process of producing and metabolising new medications, my aim is to explore the possibilities and challenges of “ethnographic comparisons.”
Diabetes. Diabetes is a disease in which different realities are linked together in the daily quest of understanding them. Patients, their doctors and the many researchers I worked with in different parts of Japan during the past decade see and live their bodies as a metabolic system (taisha) that keeps transforming disparate properties into each other: food and disease, sugar and life, outside and inside, Japanese and Caucasian. The point here is to show that it is through various acts of eating, calculating glucose levels, or studying the genetic basis of diabetes that such heterogenous qualities come to be appreciated and embodied in their intensive relations.
Japonisme. In the past half century, diabetes has transformed from an obscure and acute condition to one of the paradigmatic issues of biomedicine in Japan, involving the interaction between state-of-the-art science and public health intervention on a massive scale. Different facts and experiences that structure the knowledge about this chronic condition emerge within particular interferences between scientific and cultural attributions. Some repertoires invoke “Japanese genes,” while others inscribe a stereotypical male diabetes patient, the sarariman, or company employee. The puzzle is this: how do these different subjects of molecular biology, epidemiology, endocrinology, etc. come to stand for the same disease, if they do at all?
Method. The anthropological challenge then is how to reinvent the conceptual tool of difference; how to move from static notions of identity and distinction to the recognition of transformation and connection. What is emerging from this ‘metabolizing of anthropology’ is a method of following the movement of difference through existential and disciplinary boundaries.
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2016 （今井貴代子と共著）「共生と多文—比較の展望」『未来共生学』第3号:11–30。(“Introduction to Multiculturalism and Kyosei: Towards a Comparative Approach.” Mirai Kyosei: Journal of Multicultural Innovation 3:11–30; co-authored with Imai Kiyoko)
2015 (with Morita Atsuro) “Acting with Non-human Entities.” NatureCulture 3:1–6.
2014 (ed.) Ecologies of Care: Innovations through Technologies, Collectives and the Senses. Readings in Multicultural Innovation, Vol. 4., 359 pp. Osaka: Doctoral Program for Multicultural Innovation.
2014 “We Always Connect With Worlds: Japanese Drugs, Hungarian Bodies and the Effects of Comparison.” In Ecologies of Care: Innovations through Technologies, Collectives and the Senses. Readings in Multicultural Innovation, Vol. 4. Gergely Mohácsi ed., pp. 257–272. Osaka: Doctoral Program for Multicultural Innovation, 2014.
2013 “The Adiponectin Assemblage: An Anthropological Perspective on Pharmacogenomics in Japan.” East Asian Science and Technology Studies 7(2):261–281.
2013 (with Morita Atsuro) “Translations on the Move: A Review Essay.” NatureCulture 2:6-22, 2013; for French translation, see “Traductions en Mouvement: Circulations conceptuelles entre pratiques anthropologiques et pratiques indigenes.” Revue d’Anthropologie des Connaissances 9(4):409–428, 2015.
Recent academic papers
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2015 October 10,「薬物効果のループ—西ハンガリーの治験施設支援機関の事例から」病・医療・生物医学（招待セッション）『科学社会学会第４回年次大会』東京大学。
2015 September 29, “Pharmaceutical Gardens: On scaling life and anthropology through bioprospecting medicinal plants in Vietnam” ―Paper presented the invited session Human Scales and Subjectivities at Tsukuba Science Week, Tsukuba University.
2015 July 17, “Herbal Dimensions: Cultivating, collecting and screening medicinal plants in Vietnam”—Paper presented at the International Conference of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES), Bangkok.