Cultures are constantly created and reinvented, even in a country that appears to have a clear and stable identity. This traveling research course in Japan will investigate architecture and planning born of the meeting of distinct cultures, societies, and governments, with a focus on projects from World War II in the 1940s to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The investigation will be based on the premise that, while Japanese culture is often viewed as unique and even insular, it is also a product of foreign influences and the internal desire to connect with global society. Arata Isozaki famously argued that the Ise Shrine, originally built in the 4th century B.C.E. and often considered to be the symbol of Japanese architectural superiority, was not rooted in indigenous design. Instead, it was born of a desire to construct a new identity that could compete with the influential Chinese architecture of the era, while trying to recreate the root form that never existed. The course will focus on Japanese spaces designed in response to the outside eye, including Metabolism as a reaction to western Modernity, on-going city planning for anticipated Olympics visitors, and recovery and commemoration projects that attract tourists to Fukishima. Students will study how Japan's historical architecture was developed amidst rigid social and political hierarchy, with continual and erratic foreign relations with China, Korea, Russia, Southeast Asia, Western Europe, and the U.S.A.
Meet at the famous Café de Flore to study the influence and dynamics of Black culture, literature, and experience in Paris, past and present. Like a jazz composition, the seminar is arranged to convey variations and diverse interpretations of the "Paris Noir" theme and features panel discussions; poetry readings; and visits to community theatre workshops, working artists' studios, nightclubs, concerts, African markets, and restaurants.
From a foreign policy perspective, the program will examine the influence of global players and stakeholders in the region, including Turkey, Iran, and especially the role of the United States. Istanbul is an ideal setting for this course, providing an opportunity to debate the relevance of Turkey as a model for democracy in the Islamic world, given its status as the first Muslim country in the world to embrace a democratic, largely secular government, in 1950.