Recently, JCMU students on our various May programs had the opportunity to listen to a guest lecture given by Emily Canosa, the current Outreach Coordinator for the University of Michigan’s Center for Japanese Studies (CJS). Emily is an alumna of the 2005 fall semester program, and was thrilled to return to JCMU and speak with our current students. The topic of her presentation was “Art and Nuclear Disaster: Processing and Reframing Human, Social and Environmental Trauma” and involved discussions of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster caused by the 3/11 tragedy.
We caught up with Emily and asked her about her experiences as a JCMU guest lecturer.
Why were you first interested in lecturing at JCMU?
I read about the visiting scholar program over a year ago on the JCMU website, and as soon as I learned about this opportunity I knew that I would apply if the chance arose. The idea of returning to JCMU–which had once nurtured me as a student and a person–and sharing some of what I’ve learned with the students was really exciting to me. I was also eager to meet the students and listen to them about their interests and travels.
What inspired you to lecture about your particular topic?
The topic I chose was “Art and Nuclear Disaster in Japan: Processing and (Re)framing Human, Social and Environmental Trauma.” I have been including a more broad lecture on art and environmental disaster in my course “Visual Narration: Asia” at the College for Creative Studies for some time now, and was interested in taking this topic deeper in relation to Japan. Japan has a unique history and relationship to nuclear disaster, and a rich culture of artworks including film, painting, performance pieces and more that have arisen in dialogue with these events. With Climate Change already occurring and becoming increasingly dangerous, we are at a unique moment as a global society when shifts in our understandings of the environment and our relationship to it and one another are taking place. I believe that what has happened in Japan–in particular, the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant meltdown (and also the legacies of industrial human health disasters such as Minamata and Itai-itai disease)–offers important lessons about war, peace, capitalism and progress, human health, the environment, agriculture, healing, community resilience and so much more.
What do you wish students to take away after your lecture?
I hoped that the talk would cultivate mindfulness of the impacts of our actions on the earth and one another, and at the same time share inspiring examples of human creativity and resilience in relationship to personal and environmental loss, grief and healing.
Overall, how was your experience as a JCMU visiting scholar?
My experience was very positive! I felt lucky to be able to stay in the dorm for two nights, and staying there felt nostalgic as well (this rooms and furniture haven’t changed a bit!). I was received very warmly by JCMU staff, faculty and students and enjoyed conversations with them and bonding over our shared love of JCMU, Hikone, and Hikonyan.
We would like to thank Emily for sharing her experiences with us, and we are happy that both she and our students enjoyed it! If you are interested in reading more about Emily, JCMU spoke with her last year about her study abroad experience in Hikone and how it benefited her academic and career goals – the link to this article can be found here.