About JAAS

Outline

The Japanese Association for American Studies is the largest academic association for Americanists in Japan and aims to promote American studies in Japan through publication and activities facilitating communication and cooperation among specialists on the Americas. The origin of the Association can be traced back to September 27, 1947. The number of original members was about 200. As it has enjoyed a steadily growing popularity, the Association boasts 1,146 members as of April 2000. The disciplines and interests of members include history, literature, political science, economics, international relations, Japan-U.S. relations, law, religion, education, sociology, philosophy, women's studies, ethnic studies, art history, cultural studies, and others. This variety in disciplines and interests is a great asset for cultivating a dynamic, multifaceted understanding of American cultures and societies.

History

The origin of the Association can be traced back to September 27, 1947, when a small but enthusiastic group of about twenty-five specialists on America gathered in Tokyo to start an Amerika Gakkai [America Institute]. A journal was published, but had to be suspended after a few years due to financial difficulties. In January 1966, these pioneers and a new generation of specialists on America reestablished Amerika Gakkai, now referred to in English as the Japanese Association for American Studies (JAAS). The number of original members was about 200. As it has enjoyed a steadily growing popularity, the Association boasts 1,146 members as of April 2000.

Membership

JAAS aims to promote American studies in Japan through publication and activities facilitating communication and cooperation among specialists on America. An individual or an institution with an interest in American studies, sympathetic to the aim of the Association and willing to cooperate in its activities can apply for membership. An individual member is required to have an M.A. or Ph.D., or to have scholarly publications and/or be engaged in professional activities equivalent to having an M.A. degree. The disciplines and interests of members include history, literature, political science, economics, international relations, Japan-U.S. relations, law, religion, education, sociology, philosophy, women's studies, mass culture, ethnic studies, and others. This variety in disciplines and interests is a great asset for cultivating a dynamic, multifaceted understanding of the United States.

Activities

One of the JAAS's main activities is a two-day annual meeting in June. The program consists of a symposium, sessions, workshops, a general meeting, business meetings, and an informal party.

The Association also publishes the annual Amerika kenkyu [The American Review] and the quarterly Amerika gakkai kaiho [The American Studies Newsletter]. In 1981 JAAS started to publish an English journal, The Japanese Journal of American Studies, in order to make some of the American studies scholarship in Japan available to scholars overseas. Nine volumes have been issued so far, and the journal is now an annual.

JAAS has been making efforts to promote international exchanges with Americanists abroad. The Association occasionally sponsors seminars with American scholars as guests in order to provide Japanese and visiting scholars with opportunities to share information and exchange opinions. JAAS sends its members to the conferences of international organizations such as the American Studies Association, the Organization of American Historians, the Hawaii Forum, and the European Association for American Studies.

More formal cooperation between JAAS and the American Studies Association (ASA) started in 1989, when the JAAS annual meeting included English workshops in which members of JAAS and ASA presented papers together. It also has become customary for the president of ASA to give a speech at the JAAS annual meeting. Accepting invitations from the Korean Association of American Studies,

JAAS has sent representatives to their International American Studies Seminars to read papers and make comments. Korean scholars have been invited to the annual meetings of JAAS as well.

The most recent international cooperation, which commenced in 1997, is the Short-Term Residencies for U.S. Historians in Japanese Universities. Each year three members of the Organization of American Historians spend two weeks at three Japanese institutions,

offering lectures and seminars, consulting with individual faculty and graduate students, and contributing to the expansion of networks of scholars in the two nations. We hope that our international network will continue to grow, that we will contribute to international understanding and cooperation through sharing our interests and activities.