Vital Experiments

The collaborative research project “Life in the midst of Pharmaceutical Transformations” emerged from recent efforts in science studies, social history of medicine and medical anthropology to account for the complex pharmaceutical assemblages that cut across changing scientific values, traveling public health agendas and emergent technosocial orders in the aftermath of the welfare state and global medicine. We aimed to draw together various ethnographic explorations of such assemblages to unpack the entanglements of diseased bodies, medical knowledges and healthcare from a pharmaceutically grounded perspective. How do old and new medications perform the relationships and tensions between the lab and the clinic, between medical professionals and patients, and between different medical traditions in what one might call “experimental societies”? What are at stakes in such pharmaceutical entanglements after the falling apart of the universal human in biomedicine? These questions were addressed, among others, in a special issue (see here) published in the Japanese Journal of Cultural Anthropology in 2017, at an international symposium held at Kyoto University in February, 2018 and in an organized session at the 18th IUAES World Congress in Florianópolis in July, 2018.

Comparison and Relationality

As a member of two parallel projects sponsored by the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), a considerable part of my work revolves around the methodological issues of comparison and recursivity. Comparison has been a central tool of anthropological research, but it has lost a lot of its appeal since the 1980s. At the same time, comparing people, things, medications or cultures has rapidly become a part of everyday life, not at least due to technological and scientific innovation. We have organized a session at the 4S Meeting in Tokyo in 2010, and two international symposiums (Traveling Comparisons 2009, Translational Movements 2012) to tackle with such important trafficking between anthropological methods and technosocial realities. The results of these explorations have been published in two special issues of the same titles in the journals of East Asian Science, Technology and Society (see here) and NatureCulture (see here), respectively.

Logic and Sensibility

I have been affiliated with the Centre for Advanced Research on Logic and Sensibility (CARLS) at Keio University since 2009. This interdisciplinary program houses researchers of many different fields from neuroscience to philosophy, including the relatively small Anthropology Group. The aim of our work is to explore the manifold interactions between emotion and cognition and to invent theoretical frameworks that go beyond such reductions.

Anthropology and Ontology

This project started in 2008 as an exploration into new modes of anthropological inquiry. Young researchers from different Japanese universities have participated covering fields such as economic and medical anthropology, STS and ritual studies. Influenced by the works of Marilyn Strathern, Bruno Latour and Alfred Gell, we looked at contemporary practices where concepts familiar to most anthropologists (gift, culture, performance, risk) are being transformed in the context of everyday life. We have compiled a volume in Japanese with the title Genjitsu Hihan no Jinruigaku (Anthropology as critique of reality) edited by Naoki Kasuga. You can read more about it in English in the journal HAU, here.