2019.1.30

Expand SEISEKIYUSHUSHA scholarship from enrollment April 2019

Our Graduate School will expand SEISEKIYUSHUSHA scholarships  from enrollment April 2019.

Please see below the more details.

http://www.ritsumei.ac.jp/gsir/eng/expenses/scholarship.html/

2018.11.5

Special Research Training Lecture: Researching in Africa

On October 18th, a special lecture by Prof. A. Carl Le Van was held at the Graduate School of International Relations. Professor Carl Le Van is a political scientist and a visiting professor from American University in Washington, D.C. He is a leading researcher on African politics and has written three books on Nigeria including the Oxford Handbook on Nigerian Politics published this year.

The lecture was based on a set of photographs related to Professor Le Van’s research and delivered in an interactive way so that participants could ask questions anytime. He covered three main topics: 1) choice of the research topic, 2) research ethics, and 3) how researcher’s personal connections and experiences could become professional and intellectual, and the other way around.

First, he talked about his work appointment at an NGO in Nigeria and his study at the University of Ibadan and how those experiences impacted his research interest in the future. Besides major experiences, he noted an influence of smaller and seemingly accidental events like attending a conference with Attahiru Jega, the head of Independent National Electoral Committee (INEC), a highly respected scholar and independent thinker, not involved in the corruption who enabled 2011 elections to become the freest and fairest elections up to that point in the country. Professor Le Van explained that foreign aid industry around election was massive and it was easy to get wrapped up in the excitement. However, unlike many other scholars, he didn’t focus on electoral process but chose instead to study displacement issues and housing and property right in Nigeria. The government removed informal settlements regularly, and each removal rendered thousands of people homeless or without businesses. He considered it his duty as a scholar and a human to see with empathy and solidarity and bring visibility to this issue.

To illustrate this point, Prof. Le Van showed a picture at an informal restaurant called “buka” in Nigeria explaining that most people see just poverty there but after doing his research, he also started seeing uncertainty, meaning that people did not want to invest in their property knowing that it might be destroyed next week. Another illustration was a series of photos of ethnic and religious associations providing safety net for newcomers from rural areas when they move to the cities because “the state failed them completely”. One of the questions from the audience was to clarify the meaning of this statement, to which he explained that this was said in a narrow sense meaning that the state provided no legal employment, access to health care etc., not in a Weberian sense meaning the lack of coherence and good governance. Professor Le Van also commented that colonial authorities facilitated ethnic and religious associations because they replaced the state to some extent. To make sure that they are independent from the state, the associations emphasize their political neutrality and keep out of politics. Another question from the audience was whether any of those ethnic associations were involved in ethnic conflicts. Professor Le Van explained that although they live in small ethnic ghettoes and hate the current Muslim president, they are also perfectly integrated and have very good relationships with their new Muslim neighbors in the city.

Yet another question from the audience related to Jega’s experience before becoming the head of electoral committee: whether he had any relevant practical experience or only academic background. After answering, Prof. Le Van moved on to another series of photographs taken in the slums of Abuja explaining that 200, 000 people lived in one area alone and he felt his mission as a researcher inspired by a sense of social justice. He also gave advice to those doing field work to “have friends in high places and low places” and not to get flattered in the hierarchy. He showed photographs of his interviewees showing mainly men and explained that they always wanted him to talk to the person on top as he is the one to control the narrative. However, his task as a researcher was to get to those left behind without angering the first participants and to recreate the entire story.  

Professor Le Van demonstrated how his perspective was influenced by co-authors he got to work with. For instance, one of his projects was carried out jointly with an anthropologist of religion, and thanks to him, he became aware of witchcraft being practiced alongside with the oil boom and dramatic changes in Nigerian economy. This experience also helped him realize the importance of the words, e.g. a minority group was commonly called Gwari meaning “stupid people” and they reclaimed their original name Gbagyi by writing it on their housing legally protected from demolition. Another series of photos showed the process of demolition in detail. An audience member wished to know why they couldn’t build legally, to which Professor Le Van explained that the city grew too fast on oil revenues and secondly, it was difficult to get a legal certificate to build from the authorities.

Next experience shared by Professor Le Van was working in the archives at National Centre for Arts and Culture in Gambia. According to the UNESCO, 90% of the world languages are not on the internet, while the archives in Gambia contained recordings and manuscripts of those disappearing languages. The beaches in Gambia were known to have male sex workers which seems an interesting topic for the feminists.

Professor Le Van answered to two more questions from the participants: first, which impact foreign aid had on elections in the developing countries, and second, whether NGOs and development agencies still selected attractive and media-relevant projects for funding. He explained that during the Cold War, the Western aid was not provided to parties sympathetic to communists. However, with time, the election observation has become more objective, not taking sides and allowing local indigenous knowledge to lead. Secondly, he replied that some foundations (e.g. Gates Foundation) still had the same approach: finding where we are most likely to be successful and replicate the same model in other places. However, the US Aid went to places where it was most difficult to succeed. Another problem was that recipients tended to talk about their successes more than failures and lessons learned, and that current US administration was no longer using their “empirically based policy”.

The second part of Prof. Le Van’s lecture related to the research ethics and safety in the country with some of deadliest terrorist organizations like Boko Haram. He displayed the photos of the IDPs who fled from Boko Haram’s violence and were hosted by a neighboring community for several years. The host community started to feel resentment only at the point when foreign aid agencies got interested in the IDPs and helped them and not the poor locals. Professor Le Van mentioned that some Boko Haram members were well educated and resisted Western education not as knowledge but as a source of moral illness and corruption in their country. He introduced a book by a young scholar Hillary Matfess Women in War and Boko Haram arguing that some women joined Boko Haram because they learned to read and write, and they couldn’t get access to education from the government. Professor Le Van encouraged students to go beyond conventional wisdom and question the existing assumptions, i.e. that Almajris, boys from poor families would join Boko Haram when they grow up.

The final series of photographs illustrated his current research project on pastoralists and their conflict with farmers. As pastoralists are predominantly Muslims and most farmers are Christians, the tension is often portrayed as religious conflict. However, Prof. Le Van thinks that a deep ecological crisis is overlooked, the problem is over-simplified, and reminds us of Foucauldian tradition as terminology becomes important. The media commonly refers to pastoralists as “herders” or “Fulani militants” and silences the fact that the rural population massively moves to cities, can no longer take care of the farms but still want to eat meat, and they get meat from those pastoralists. The final question from the audience related to the resource trap of certain countries, and Professor Le Van reiterated a strong correlation observed between resources and democracy: namely, that by not having oil and having agriculture and services, countries are better able to survive challenges and develop democratic regimes.


2018.09.04

Office closing (9/4)


Due to the typhoon, office will be closed in 9/4.

Thank you for your understandings.


Office College & Graduate School of International Relations

2018.08.27

AY2018 Fall Semester, Apply for "Post-master's Research Student & Doctoral Research Student"

We'd like to inform you about the application guideline for "Post-master's Research Student & Doctoral Research Student".

Application Period:  (Thu.) Sep 6, 2018 – (Thu.) Sep 13, 2018

Application Form: AY 2018 Post-Master’s Research Student / Doctoral Research Student Application Guidelines


 "Post-master's Research Student & Doctoral Research Student"  System is a system for graduates of our graduate schools to continue doing research at our facilities.
 Post-master's Research Student and Doctoral research student cannot receive research instruction from faculty.

 If you would like to apply, please submit application documents to IR office.
 Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

 Best regards,

2018.08.2

Summer office our and summer break closing

-IR Office will be closed for Summer break -

Our office will be closed from August 11
to August 19, 2018 for Summer holidays.

We are sorry for the inconvenience we may cause.

*Summer Recess; From August 2nd to Sep 25th, Office Hours start from 1pm to 5pm. 
Office will be closed in August 29th for staff training.

Thank you for your understandings.

Administrative Office
College of International Relations Ritsumeikan University

Graduate School of International Relations Ritsumeikan University


2018.07.25

IR faculty's selected publications are displayed at college entrance

Selected publications of IR faculty members have been displayed at entrance of college building. 
Books are displayed with brief introduction.  

Please check the distinguished research achievements of IR faculty members! 

Faculty list >> 

This project is promoted by International Studies Association to celebrate college's 30th memorial year.  

Website(Japanese)  >> 

2018.07.12

30th Memorial Event : Towards a Global IR: Origins, Evolution and Transformation of a Discipline

On July 12th, College of International Relations hosted the special lecture of visiting professor Amitav Acharya in its 30th anniversary events.

At the beginning, Professor Adachi introduced Professor Amitav Acharya as a distinguished professor of International Relations, the UNECSO Chair in Transnational Challenges and Governance at the School of International Service of American University in Washington, DC and the Chair of the ASEAN Studies Initiative. He served as a President of the International Studies Association (ISA) in 2014-2015 and has been a visiting Professor at Ritsumeikan University for several years. Professor Adachi said that Professor Acharya’s ideas of global International Relations resonated with Ritsumeikan University so much that a joint degree program on global IR was launched with American University. Professor Adachi also mentioned that the title of today’s presentation is also a tentative title of Amitav Acharya’s upcoming book.

Professor Acharya thanked Professor Adachi for his kind introduction and everyone for their warm welcome. He started his presentation by explaining his views on the evolution of International Relations as a discipline. From a global perspective, this evolution can be divided into four main stages. The first may be called “creationism” and starts in the inter-war period. It is characterized by a normative concern about the world war and preventing it from happening again. The second stage is “Americanization” of IR taking place from 1945 to 1989. American dominance in the discipline was so prevailing at that time that Stanley Hoffman even calls IR “American social science” (1977). The period from 1989 (the end of Cold War) to 2008 (global financial crisis) is characterized by pluralization of theoretical approaches. Finally, current period is called “globalization” and is characterized by liberal hegemony and “third founding of the discipline”: while IR is still dominated by American and other Western ideas, there is a growing dissatisfaction and attempts to create a more globalized narrative.

Professor Achariya then proceeded to describe the four stages in detail starting with the so-called “creationism” stage (1919-1939). The term itself is derived from theology and philosophy where it related to the debate between creationists who believe in the creation of the world by God out of nothing and evolutionists who think that the world evolved from multiple factors interacting with each other. Another alternative to creationism: Aristotle’s doctrine of the “Eternity of the World” that was preserved and propagated thanks to Muslim philosopher Ibn Rushd who wrote commentaries to the Greek classical philosopher’s work. The doctrine of the “Eternity of the World” is opposed to the “big bang” or one-moment creation. Similarly, IR as a discipline is thought to have derived from multiple sources including Alfred Zimmern’s idealism, E.H. Carr’s realism and resulting “first debate” between the idealists and the realists but also IR thinking and practices from outside Europe such as anti-imperialism from Asia and Africa, Asian regionalism, Pan-Arabism from the Middle East, Pan-Americanism from Latin America etc. Thus, Professor Achariya challenges the traditional “myth of creation” of IR as a discipline at University of Wales-Aberystwyth in 1919 with the creation of Woodrow Wilson Chair in International Politics. One of the reasons why we cannot accept this narrative is that it largely neglects imperialism and racism, issues of major concern to the majority of the world population that was under colonial or semi-colonial rule at that time.

According to Achariya, the second stage of IR development covers the period from 1945 to 1989. After World War II, IR theories have to respond to new important phenomena such as the Cold War, nuclear weapons, European integration, and later energy crisis. Realists point out that the newly founded UN is paralysed by constant disagreement between the US and Soviet Union while liberalists suggest regional integration and interdependency theory as a solution. The second debate between liberalism and realism occurs, this time of more epistemological rather than ideological nature. Arguing over the use of methodology: classical (historical, interpretation) vs. scientific (behaviourist) methods, they eventually reach consensus on anarchy. This central concept for realism is finally accepted by neoliberalism, with the proviso that anarchy can be mitigated by institutions and their monitoring mechanisms. Another consensus between neoliberalism and neorealism is reached upon the concept of rational choice; as a result, IR field starts following the logic of economics rather than philosophy and becomes narrower. This “neo-neo” synthesis is challenged by emerging critical theories (poststructuralism and feminism) and theories from the periphery (dependency theory and postcolonialism).

The third stage of pluralization of IR (1989-2008) occurs in the context of the end of the Cold War and shift of the global power balance as well as ethnic conflicts and emerging powers (China and India). The idea of containment of communism as no longer relevant gives way to the spread of democracy as the latter is assumed to be better for the world peace. This leads to creation of liberal peace theory (Doyle; Russett), offensive realism vs. defensive realism debate, and rise of other theories, among which constructivism concerned with norms and identity becomes the preferred approach for many IR researchers. Other theories include postmodern tradition focusing on language and deconstruction of existing narratives, neo-Marxist and Gramscian approaches discussing issues of hegemony and production, English school concerned with expansion of European rules and institutions, feminism criticising conventional IR for being a largely masculine project, and postcolonialism investigating issues of race, gender and marginality of postcolonial agency.

Finally, the current stage defined by Professor Achariya as ongoing from 2008 is characterized by globalization and major move from the Eurocentric to Global IR. While some scholars develop the theory of liberal hegemony, end of the paradigms and thus the end of theory, others are concerned with the absence of non-Western IR theory. Hypothesis why non-Western IR is absent include: 1) hegemony and continuing dominance of American IR which may marginalize other approaches, 2) lack of visibility, 3) lack of resources for non-Western scholars to develop and publish their work. Possible solutions for bringing non-Western world into IR may involve creative use of non-Western classical ideas, possibly blended with Western knowledge, developing nationalist thinking, Global South scholarship and regional dynamics. According to Achariya, the key trends in the global IR currently include: 1) pluralistic universalism embracing diversity and at the same time seeking common ground, 2) grounding in global history, 3) theoretical and methodological pluralism making global IR distinctly different from post-colonialism that draws only from their local context, 4) combining IR and area studies: insights from the area and knowledge of a particular country, 5) highlighting regional and global dynamics and 6) recognition of multiple forms of non-Western agency. Professor Achariya emphasized that agency is not material nor limited to action; agency can mean creating a context for action locally and exporting it globally. He stressed that many parts of the world that are poor materially are rich ideationally, and ideas can come from everywhere.

The presentation was followed by a Q&A session during which participants asked questions about Buddhist nationalism and its place in the narrative of the global IR, clashes between international and local perspective in the case of ethnic conflicts in Rakhine State in Myanmar, ways to escape binary or categorization explanations in IR, differences between Asian and African IR traditions in their ways to relate and reflect theoretically on their historical slavery.

First, Professor Acharya explained that while Buddhist thinking is a part of the global IR and has an advantage of bringing the common in people very peacefully, we should bear in mind that Buddhist nationalism is a politicization of religion rather than Buddhist thinking per se.

Regarding the contestation between international and local, Professor Achariya stressed that it is a matter of domestic politics that prevents the mutual understanding between the local and the international side. Global IR approach can be helpful here as it seeks understanding social phenomena before attempting to explain them like rational IR theory and attempts to do so in a broader range of reality than a particular geographical or historical context. Seeing a broader reality can also be a solution to avoid a binary approach in IR.

While slavery existed in most societies in different forms and for different purposed and certain forms exist until today, it is also true that African slavery was most brutal, massive and had tremendous impact on the rise of the West, underdevelopment of the African continent and ongoing racial discrimination. Therefore, it is not surprising that Pan-African thinkers – not limited to Africa but also including the US, the Caribbean and other regions – place so much emphasis on slavery and race.

Professor Acharya provided the listeners with further readings on the topic and his social media handles to continue the discussion and reflection on the global IR. The audience thanked the speaker with a warm applause.

2018 .06.27

Special Lecture given by Jilin University Professor Wang Li (US Politics and Foreign Policy)

On June 27, Special Lecture by Professor Wang Li (Jilin University) was held in US Politics and Foreign Policy class (Prof. French) .

Professor Li gave a chronological survey of US-China relations ranging from the first contacts between the two countries through to the present. His lecture detailed the shifting influences on China in the modern era and the changes in mutual perceptions between the US and China over time. His lecture was enlivened through many asides and anecdotes from his personal experiences living in the PRC.

Students enjoyed his lecture very much and particularly benefited from hearing a Chinese expert’s view of China-American relations.



2018.6.13

Whither the Japanese “Circles of Compensation” in the era of globalization? Kent Calder, one of the most influential Japan specialists, talked for College of IR

On June 7, College of International Relations and the International Studies Association at Ritsumeikan University invited Dr. Kent E. Calder as the first guest speaker for its 30th anniversary special lecture series. Dean Akihiko Kimijima of College of IR introduced Dr. Calder as one of the most important Japan and Asia specialists, and emphasized his unique career as a researcher, as an educator at prominent schools, and as a practitioner. Dr. Calder has served as Special Advisor to the US Ambassador to Japan (1997-2001) and Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (1989-1993 and 1996). He is currently Professor and Director of the Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies at Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, D.C., and will assume the Vice Dean at SAIS on July 1, 2018.

Many students from College and Graduate School of International Relations, include its Global Studies Major and American University Ritsumeikan University Joint Degree Program joined the lecture to learn from the well-known Japan specialist.

Dr. Calder’s talk was mainly about his latest book, Circles of Compensation: Economic Growth and the Globalization of Japan, published by Stanford University Press. This book can be understood as an updated and combined version of his earlier masterpieces, Crisis and Compensation: Public Policy and Political Stability in Japan, 1949-1986 and Strategic Capitalism: Private Business and Public Purpose in Japanese Industrial Finance, published in 1988 and in 1993 respectively by Princeton University Press.

What Dr. Calder tries to explain through the concept of “Circles-of-Compensation (CoC)” is how CoC in the Japanese society have internalized the benefits they can produce and how costs have been externalized to players who remain outside CoC. For instance, Kansai International Airport’s landing fee is much higher than other major international airports in the region such as Incheon International Airport. However, in the context of CoC, high price has not been regarded as a negative thing. Instead, higher price has been transferred to benefits that CoC can share together whereas external players should pay the higher cost. The question he wants to raise is whether CoC can be sustainable and continuously successful in the era of globalization when the rest of the world is competing by lowering price and rapidly changing.

Dr. Sumiyo Nishizaki, who is currently Assistant Professor of College of IR at Ritsumeikan University and served as the commentator of Dr. Calder’s talk, emphasized that CoC mechanism used to function very well as the stabilizer of the society in the era of Cold War when the Japanese economy was dramatically changing and when ideological conflict was serious enough to cause a domestic political crisis.

Dr. Calder does not disagree with Dr. Nishizaki’s view; he also admits historical contribution of CoC. Nonetheless, he continues that CoC are unlikely to work as effectively as before because CoC can keep making it difficult to reform the Japanese society and to adopt innovative changes the rest of the world would make. Abenomics’ third arrow, structural reform, remains as the most challenging task because of CoC, according to Dr. Calder.

His prescription, however, is neither collapse nor dismantling of CoC because it can be counter-productive. Rather, he suggests the following two: first, CoC can broaden the scope and be more inclusive to other domestic players; and second, CoC can also broaden the scope with cross-bordering players, internationally. His concluding remark was inspirational to Ritsumeikan Community who have been pursuing cosmopolitanism and innovation.

(Eunjung Lim)

2018.03.20

Graduation Ceremony was held

On  March 20nd, the Ritsumeikan University Undergraduate and Graduate School Graduation Ceremony  was held. There,  281 students from the College of International Relations and 15 students from the Graduate School of International Relations were awarded Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.


Many family members and friends of graduates, faculty and staff members were there to celebrate. Graduates will soon start their new careers here in Japan and around the world.

Graduates, congratulations and good luck on your future! 


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