Ateliers sans frontières: creating an online community of Japanese scholars
By Amy Catalinac, New York University, Charles Crabtree, Dartmouth College, Christina L. Davis, Harvard University, Shinju Fujihira, Harvard University, Yusaku Horiuchi, Dartmouth College, Phillip Y. Lipscy, University of Toronto, Frances McCall Rosenbluth, Yale University and Daniel M. Smith, Colombia University
Many social science departments include scholars whose work involves different regions of the world. The breadth of the department offers the opportunity to learn from colleagues working in very different contexts. It also presents a challenge. Researchers working on specific contexts need to ask themselves: Is my understanding of this feature of the political system or political domain correct? What other conclusions did the researchers draw that might be relevant to my line of research? Have I identified and addressed all potential competing explanations? To answer these questions, researchers need to share their work with others in the same field.
Few of us in the Japanese political community are lucky enough to have other Japanese scholars in the same department. This is largely true for experts from other countries and regions, with the exception of Americanists. Conferences have always been important places to engage researchers with similar interests. Fearing that the COVID-19 pandemic may reduce opportunities to receive feedback and interact with fellow scholars, we created the Japanese Politics Online Seminar Series (jposs.org), or JPOSS. This article describes JPOSS and its benefits to our community, and summarizes the logistical and technical challenges.