Zemi Research Convention 2021
"Don't be tricked by “diversity”! -light and shadow behind art-"

Minamikawa Seminar (Team name: Norizu)
Mako Higashiyama, Yuma Ito, Kanna Takahashi, Yuri Nagai, Chikae Yamasaki

We interviewed the members of the Minamikawa Seminar who presented: "Don't be fooled by diversity! -The light and shadow hidden in Art" at the 2021 College of International Relations Zemi Research Convention.

Please give details of your Zemi Research Convention presentation (please explain in more detail than the presentation outline posted on the website).

In recent years, diversity has become a hot topic in the international community, initiated by BLM and other events. The growing demand for diversity in the art world raised a question: what is a diverse society? From perspectives of gender, race and minorities, we focused on the positive and negative aspects of diversity and its two faces.

We believe that simply balancing the data of who is included within a community does not solve the issues of inequality. To achieve "true diversity" people must respect each other as individuals and not just as a part of society.

Why did you choose your theme?

In our Spring Semester, the group was drawn to the chapter book about "diversity and art" as we explored the theme of diversity in our seminar. We thought that if we were going to spend time working as a group on a major research project, we would like to present something that would be a refreshing perspective on a familiar topic for the audience. We decided to focus on the theme of "Museums (Art) x Diversity" which we felt is an irregular day-to-day activity that is easily recognizable.

What questions and comments did you receive on the Zemi Research Convention, and which made the most impact on your group?

We received numerous questions regarding the depth of our research and our conclusions and many were interested in the link between our study and the BLM movement. We received multiple positive feedback and a lot of enlightening comments regarding our theme that opened our eyes.

What struck us at the main event was that more interested people than we expected came to listen to our presentation on the theme of diversity and art. Art, considered a universal language, drew great interest from the audience, and it gave an opportunity for many to think about diversity in a different light.

What kind of things did you experience as a group leading up to the convention?

Before the summer holidays, we decided on the theme, question and started collecting information. During the summer holidays, we had over ten meetings through ZOOM. In order to have efficient meetings, we aimed to gather all data and make the slides before the discussions. The hardest part was defining what "diversity" means and what kind of diverse society we should aim for in the future abstractly and concretely.. As the activities were conducted outside of class hours, it was hard for us to balance other activities such as job-hunting, club activities and part-time jobs, both in terms of time and energy.

What did you learn through the Zemi Research Convention you can apply to your future career?

It allowed us to think at a level of depth that we would not have been able to do in an individual class assignment report. Delving into the theme to accurately grasp its essence was a great practice experience for our graduation thesis.

Discussing multiple perspectives, thought processes, and backgrounds in a group was a refreshing experience. We learned that research must take a multifaceted view of things by taking a broad view of the flow of events or, on the contrary, to elucidate the details and change the perspective. We believe this experience will be valuable for us even after starting our careers.

Message to the next year's participants

The Zemi Research Convention is the best opportunity to deepen your understanding of what you have learned in the seminar. It is not easy to study and think deeply about one subject. There are also problems and difficulties that arise from working in a group. However, there is a great sense of achievement after accomplishing and participating in the event. There's nothing to lose by taking part, so give it a go! It's a great way to bond with your fellow seminar members, and it's sure to broaden your values and interests.

Introduction of the seminar

In the Minamikawa seminar, we contemplate and discussed the nature of diversity across racial barriers in various contexts. Many students are interested in the theme, so everyone is highly motivated.

We read allocated sections of the textbook and discuss them as a class. We gained valuable information, which will be essential for us as a human beings.

Professor Minamikawa is a charming professor who sees things from many perspectives and breaks down complex topics into understandable examples. He introduces current issues related to the class theme and explains the background to deepen our understanding.

The seminar has a lively feel where students learn actively through freely speaking and asking questions. The class has a motivating attitude in which seminar students work together to heighten their knowledge. 

March 2022