What's New from the Secretariat September

The fourth meeting of this fiscal year was held on September 15, in the midst of lingering summer heat, marking the 30th meeting of the Executive Committee. The meeting began with a report on the state of budget execution. In addition, Professor KOSUGI Yasushi, head of the Research Promotion Section, announced that recruitment would soon begin for applicants to receive grants for the publication of research outcomes, which are allocated in the current fiscal year’s budget.

Following that, a report was given on the monograph, “Adornments of the Samburu in Northern Kenya,” which was published with assistance from the 21st Century COE Program. The author is NAKAMURA Kyoko, an ASAFAS student, and the work is based on data on a total of 6,520 adornments, varying according to the gender and age group of the wearer, collected through the fieldwork carried out by Ms. NAKAMURA on Samburu society since entering the graduate school. It carries comprehensive information on each item, divided into 167 categories (as well as five types of body deformation), including the local name and its etymology, shape and size, color, material and method of production, source of acquisition, gender and age group of the user, part of body adorned and method of adornment, and its social and ceremonial significance. At the end of the book, there are many beautiful photographs. It is an extremely valuable project, being the first full-fledged monograph in the world, describing the variety of adornments worn by this pastoral people in East Africa. She began the work by quoting a passage from Evans-Pritchard (1940), “material objects are chains along which social relationships run, and the more simple is a material culture the more numerous are the relationships expressed through it,” but the reader will rather be surprised at how minutely differentiated is this material culture, which at first glance seems to be simple.

Also in the area of publications, Professor KOSUGI gave a report on volume 3 of the Catalog of Arabic periodicals, financed by the Program. The Program, which will end next fiscal year, is entering the wrap-up phase, but we would like to continue to assist the publication of the research findings of graduate students and materials on area studies.

Next, information on the International Symposium, “Coexistence with Nature in a ‘Glocalizing’ World: Field Science Perspectives,” to be held on November 23-24 this year in Bangkok, Thailand, was given by Professor HIRAMATSU Kozo, the chairperson of the Working Group. The website for the symposium was launched in August, and an English poster has been completed. Tasks for the future include working out the details of the budget with the university administration, and quickly preparing the Proceedings. The President of Kyoto University or the Vice-President in charge of International Affairs is expected to attend the symposium.

Following this, Dr. TAKADA Akira, who is taking charge of preparations for the international symposium to be held in the final fiscal year of the Program, reported that the Working Group had met several times during the summer vacation, that the outline of the structure had been decided, with four sessions and a poster session introducing the activities of field stations, and that the persons in charge of each session had been selected. The symposium, to be entitled “Developments and Prospects of Integrated Area Studies: In the Path of Human-Nature Coexistence in a Glocalizing World,” will wind up the Program, and in consideration of the 21st Century COE Program’s goal to “nurture leading researchers in area studies,” it was reconfirmed that the symposium would be organized at the initiative of junior faculty members and researchers and graduate students, that it would be an opportunity for them to disseminate their research findings to the world, and that the Executive Committee would give its full support.

In addition, approval was given for the recruitment of one part-time staff member to help prepare the symposium. We will also ask the new person to work in place of a staff member who is currently taking a maternity leave.

There was a report from the Public Relations Section on updates to the website since the Executive Committee meeting in July. The major updates were to the English-language page of the Area Info Division, including in particular introductions to the Southeast Asian Topographic Map database and the Aflora database on uses of flora in Africa and the Area Studies Image database, as well as annual reports from the Field Station Division. In addition, videos, including parts of ethnographic films made by graduate students, are ready to be released. A remaining task for the future is how to link these activities of the Area Info Division with the Center for Integrated Area Studies, for which we are currently applying for budgetary appropriations in anticipation of establishing it in FY2006. (Ichikawa)

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