Center for Japanese Studies (University of Michigan) Records

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Center for Japanese Studies (University of Michigan) records

The materials in this online repository form part of a larger Center for Japanese Studies (University of Michigan) records collection held by the Bentley Historical Library. For a more complete index to the materials, please consult the collection's online finding aid.

For questions or more information, please contact the Bentley Historical Library's Division of Reference and Access Services

Correspondence, reports, budgets, and other materials concerning the establishment of the Okayama Field Station and the subsequent publication of

The University of Michigan's Center for Japanese Studies (CJS) was established in 1947, and offered its first classes in the fall semester of 1948. The center was one of many "area studies" facilities established at American universities after the Second World War, but was the first such center in the United States that was truly interdisciplinary. The drive for area studies grew out of a sense among American policy makers that a lack of American expertise in foreign language and culture had hindered the U.S. war effort. Area studies centers were intended to remedy this weakness by encouraging intense interdisciplinary scholarship with a strong focus on the mastery of language. The University of Michigan was a logical choice for a Japanese area studies center: it had an established Japanese Studies program (a part of the Oriental Civilization Program) and had housed the Army's Japanese Language School during the Second World War.

The new center was designed to further the academic study of Japan by promoting research, training specialists, and building a research library. From its very beginning, the center was interdisciplinary, drawing faculty from a variety of departments including Oriental language (now Asian Languages), geography, anthropology, and political science. To supplement its classes in Ann Arbor, the center created a field station in Okayama, Japan, in 1950. Scholars at the station pursued original research while immersed in Japanese culture. Village Japan a study by Richard K. Beardsley, John W. Hall, and Robert E. Ward, was the most notable product of this period. Five years later, the center closed the field station, but it continued to support American scholarship in Japan. The center also promoted international scholarship through conferences and visiting professorships.

Most of the area studies centers created in the immediate post-war period, including CJS, were initiated with large grants from the Carnegie Corporation. In 1958, the federal government increased funding of the area centers with the passage of the National Defense Education Act (NDEA). Title VI of that act specifically promoted area and language studies. In the 1970s, however, government and private foundation funding began to dry up, and the center was forced to look elsewhere for funding.

During the 1970s and 1980s, the center became more reliant on funds from corporations and the Japanese government. The Toyota Visiting Professorship, for instance, was established in 1987 with a grant from the Toyota Motor Corporation. The Toyota Visiting Professorship offered students to attend seminars and lectures, as well as attend classes, with world-renowned scholars.

Adapting to the changing needs of students and faculty in the early 1990s, CJS began an afternoon lecture series, which touched on all areas of Japanese culture, economic, and political history. Supplementing the lecture series, is a vibrant film series. The film and lecture series act together for the promotion and dissemination of research about Japan. CJS' website offers extensive resources for students, teachers, and K-14 materials. Currently, outreach efforts include the Japan Technology Management Program, which challenges traditional uses of science and technology, and the continued support of the Asian Library. The library is now the second largest library of Japanese and other Asian language texts in the country.

Please note:

Copyright is held by the Board of Regents of the University of Michigan.

Access to digitized sound recordings may be limited to the reading room of the Bentley Historical Library, located on the Ann Arbor campus of the University of Michigan.

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