Project Summary

JSPS Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (A)
Humanistic and Cross-Disciplinary Research of the Relationship between Humans and their "Homelands" in the Transnational Era

Today, the human experience of life is global and transnational, as exemplified by that of refugees and migrants. The “War on Terror” paradigm, where nations are seen as a given framework that eliminates those who do not or cannot identify with them, has swept the world. This has rendered the relationship between human beings and their “homeland” extremely painful in various ways.

This collective research project of ours has germinated to resist this paradigm with the participation of scholars and researchers from various fields of humanities specializing in the Middle East as well as other regions of the world. Through examining the diverse representations of “homeland” in literature and other cultural expressions from humanistic perspectives, we explore the varied relationship human beings have with their “homelands” in the contemporary world as well as what the “homelands” means to them, thereby laying the foundations to create new ideas of human liberation.

Principal Investigator

Mari OKA
(Professor, Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, Kyoto University)
[Research areas]
  • Modern Arabic literature/the question of Palestine
[Research topic related to the Project]
  • Exploring the question raised by Ghassan Kanafani in Returning to Haifa --“What is the meaning of Watan /homeland for Human beings?” -- as a universal, existential question for humans living in the world today.

Co-Investigators (alphabetically ordered by last names)

Kenichi ABE
(Associate Professor, Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology, The University of Tokyo)
[Research area]
  • Central European Literature
[Research topics related to the Project]
  • Multiculturalism in the city with a focus on literature in exile
  • Romani Literature
Hikaru FUJII
(Associate Professor, Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology, The University of Tokyo)
[Research areas]
  • North American literature, English literature, North America and English-speaking countries
[Research topics related to the Project]
  • Immigrant writers in the United States and their relationship to “history"
  • Anglophone literature in Southeast Asia
Yuko FUJIMOTO
(Emeritus Professor, Graduate School of Humanities, Osaka University)
[Research areas]
  • Iranian literature, Iran
[Research topics related to the Project]
  • Watan for those who are already marginalized within a nation or community, such as women, LGBTQ people, racial and religious minorities in Iranian fiction, as seen in Iranian fiction
  • Physical/spiritual diaspora and literary works
Yoshiaki FUKUDA
(Associate Professor, Graduate School of Humanities, Osaka University)
[Research areas]
  • Arabic language, Arabic literature
[Research topics related to the Project]
  • Geographical representation of the world in modern Arabic literature
  • National anthems of the Arab countries
Kazue HOSODA
(Research Fellow, Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies)
[Research area]
  • Israeli literature
[Research topics related to the Project]
  • A comparison of the views on Watan among Palestinian writers in Israel and Jewish writers from Arab countries
  • A comparison with the multilinguality (Taiwanese, Chinese, and Japanese) of Taiwanese literature
Kazuyuki HOSOMI
(Professor, Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, Kyoto University)
[Research areas]
  • German, Polish, Jewish literature and thought
[Research topics related to the Project]
  • The representation of Zionism in the Hebrew works of Polish-Jewish poet and playwright Itzhak Katzenelson
  • Watan in the works of Paul Celan
  • Reading the poetry of Celan and Gim Sijong with the notion of Watan in mind as “world literature" written synchronously spanning the Eurasian continent
  • The relationship between the film Shoah and Watan
  • Watan as seen in the works of Yoshiro Ishihara
Kiyoko ISHIKAWA
(Emeritus Professor, Faculty of Cultural Policy and Management, Shizuoka University of Art and Culture)
[Research area]
  • French Maghreb Literature
[Research topic related to the Project]
  • Watan for people of Maghreb origin in France (with a particular focus on Assia Djebar and Leïla Sebbar)
Ryoichi KUNO
(Associate Professor, Institute of Global Studies, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies)
[Research areas]
  • Cuban literature, Latin America
[Research topics related to the Project]
  • The Cuban people as “orphans of the Cold War"
  • Cuba's relationship with Africa since the 1960s
Ryo MIYASHITA
(Associate Professor, Graduate School of Humanities, Osaka University)
[Research areas]
  • Turkish literature, Turkey
[Research topic related to the Project]
  • Literary space in 19th-21st century Istanbul as a non-Watan common land
Naho NAKAMURA
(Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Humanities, Osaka University)
[Research areas]
  • Modern Iranian literature, Iran
[Research topic related to the Project]
  • The transition of “homeland" as a subject/issue in Iran from 19th to the 20th century
Sejong OH
(Associate Professor, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of the Ryukyus)
[Research areas]
  • Zainichi literature, Korean Literature, Japan and Korea
[Research topic related to the Project]
  • Trends in 1960s Zainichi Korean literature (with a particular focus on Kim Tal-su, Kim Seok-beom, and Gim Sijong)
Hiroki OKAZAKI
(Lecturer, Faculty of International Relations Department of Multicultural Communication, Asia University)
[Research areas]
  • Arab political thought, Syrian literature
[Research topics related to the Project]
  • The relationship between homeland and violence
  • An analysis of the ideological and literary discourse on the evolution of the concept of Watan in modern Arab history and its significance today
Ikuo SHINJO
(Professor, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of the Ryukyus)
[Research areas]
  • Modern and contemporary Okinawan literature, Japanese literature
[Research topics related to the Project]
  • Community formation in postwar Okinawan literature and postwar Okinawan thought
  • A comparative study of modern Okinawan literature and modern Japanese literature with regards to the emergence of local patriotism
Katsumi SUZUKI
(Professor, Faculty of Medicine, The Jikei University School of Medicine)
[Research area]
  • German literature
[Research topic related to the Project]
  • How writers from various backgrounds face “the heathen" as well as what has been ingrained in them in Germany
Aoe TANAMI
(Associate Professor, Graduate School of International Studies, Hiroshima City University)
[Research areas]
  • Palestinian cultural studies, Palestinian literature
[Research topics related to the Project]
  • How Syrian/Palestinians from the late Ottoman period to the British Mandate period discovered Watan through their travels
  • The relationship between the concept of Watan and the community as the subject of diyaafa (“hospitality" in Arabic)
  • the cultural representation of Watan as seen in the trekking, hiking, and ecotourism boom in modern Palestine
Satoshi UDO
(Associate Professor, School of Global Japanese Studies, Meiji University)
[Research area]
  • Maghreb Arab-Berber literature with a particular focus on Algeria
[Research topic related to the Project]
  • A contrastive and critical analysis of novels by second- and third-generation French-Algerian immigrant writers depicting the Algerian War of Independence and a new group of novels in Algeria dealing with the Civil War of the 1990s
Satoshi UKAI
(Emeritus Professor, Graduate School of Language and Society, Hitotsubashi University)
[Research area]
  • French Literature and Thought
[Research topic related to the Project]
  • Analyzing the multilayeredness of “homeland" and the multiplex-dispersive belonging of individuals to civilization/culture/state/community/family (with a particular focus on France, Algeria, and East Asia)
Kaoru YAMAMOTO
(Assistant Professor, Faculty of Policy Management, Keio University)
[Research area]
  • Arabic literature
[Research topics related to the Project]
  • Watan in the works of Emile Habibi and other Palestinian writers/artists who have experienced the loss of their homeland
  • Watan as recalled and conceived from within rupture, e.g. the Lebanese Civil War and the Syrian revolution
  • Immigrant literature (especially the works of Ameen Rihani)

Research Collaborators (alphabetically ordered by last names)

Yu AMANO
(Post-Doctoral Fellow, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science)
[Research areas]
  • Iraqi Jewish communities, Israeli literature
[Research topic related to the Project]
  • Literature and discourse of Iraqi Jews and intellectuals before and after their immigration to Israel
Keiichiro ISHII
(Translator and independent researcher)
[Research areas]
  • Persian, Turkish, and Azerbaijani modern literature
[Research topics related to the Project]
  • The relationship between the ethnic consciousness and national identification of the Āzari or “Torkī" (literally meaning Turkish) people as a minority in Iran
  • The relationship between expression of ethnic (or Watan) consciousness and politics in Azerbaijani literature and performing arts from the Soviet Stalin era to post-independence
  • Watan as seen in the works of Turkish “exilic poet" Nâzım Hikmet
  • The image of Watan as seen in the works of Iranian novelist Hedayat throughout his life
Kayoko ISOBE
(Translator of Kurdish literature written in Turkish, Turkish interpreter)
[Research areas]
  • Kurdish literature written in Turkish, Kurdistan
[Research topic related to the Project]
  • The lives of Kurdish refugees in Japan
Toshihide KURIHARA
(Italian translator and researcher)
[Research areas]
  • Italian Renaissance literature, immigrant literature
[Research topic related to the Project]
  • The life and works of Erminia Dell'Oro, an Italian writer born in Eritrea
Shintaro MORI
(Arabic interpreter and translator. Lecturer at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies)
[Research areas]
  • Arabic language, modern Arab literature
[Research topic related to the Project]
  • Homeland in modern Syrian and Lebanese literature
Fuko ONODA
(Project Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Humanities, Osaka University)
[Research areas]
  • Tanzanian literature, Swahili literature, Africa
[Research topics related to the Project]
  • The process of state formation and national integration in Tanzania as a multi-ethnic country.
  • The relationship between the post-independence governing of the Tanzanian state and Swahili literature (mainly poetry)
Mana SATO
(English translator and interpreter)
[Research area]
  • Arab literature in the United States and other English-speaking countries
[Research topic related to the Project]
  • “Home" as seen in the works of Anglophone minority poets (especially Arab refugee/immigrant woman poets)
Keiko SHINGO
(French/Spanish translator)
[Research area]
  • Western Sahara
[Research topic related to the Project]
  • I write about what I have learned from my interactions with Sahrawi people as well as from documents in the process of supporting the liberation of Western Sahara since 1983.
Shuri SUZUKI
(Lecturer, School of Policy Studies, Chuo University. Lecturer, Center for Language Education and Research, Sophia University)
[Research areas]
  • Modern Iranian literature, Iran
[Research topics related to the Project]
  • The love for the homeland as a driving force behind the works and social activities of woman poet Simin Behbahani
  • Home/homeland in modern Iranian poetry
  • The lives and works of Simin Behbahani and Forugh Farrokhzad
Toshiyuki TAKEDA
(Associate Professor, Asia-Japan Research Institute of Ritsumeikan University)
[Research areas]
  • Arabic Language, Islamic Area Studies
[Research topic related to the Project]
  • The tradition of poetry and the formation of national identity in the Arab Gulf States/Mauritania
Ayumi YANAGIYA
(Research Fellow, Toyo Bunko (Oriental Library). Collaborative Fellow, Asian Institute of Asian, Africa, and Middle Eastern Studies, Sophia University)
[Research areas]
  • Medieval Islamic political history (esp. the Zengid Dynasty), modern Arab literature
[Research topics related to the Project]
  • Translation of modern Arab literature
  • The representation of Watan in modern Arab literature