Decisions, Orderings, and the Nation: Japan at Play

Course Type: Seminar
Study Focus: KBRSEG
Term: Fall

Teacher: Björn-Ole KAMM
Course Code: JK21002

The focus of this interactive seminar lies on theoretical concepts and analytical techniques useful to study transcultural phenomena such as nation-branding from a perspective of cultural ordering and power relations.



This course deals with leisure and play as matters of concern for politicians and many other actors in and outside Japan. Taking cues from relational materialism and a transcultural approach to studying culture as ordering difference, this course seeks to engage actors who have an ideal narrative about Japan and Japanese culture (e.g., expressed in leisure policies), how they ought to be, and analyzes the decision-making as well as the mechanisms, embodiments, and performances employed to reach that ideal. Such ideals and strategies are always in conflict with other ideals, thus always limited. Of interest are such orderings that actors are able to sustain, and, of course, where they fail. 
The picture of agents making a move and others a counter move, so that the outcome is not random chaos but that still no one has complete control, the metaphor of society or culture as some kind of game, framing social interactions as a game, asks to be taken seriously. Thus, this class includes a group project of designing a gaming simulation about leisure policies and nation-branding, such as a card game about tourism and taxes or temples and commodification.


Course Information

Module: Research 1-3
CATS Requirements: BA 3rd. year or above
Link to course material on PandA.

Day/Period: Tue/3
Location: 9講/Lect. 9
Credits: 2


Course Goals

First and foremost, students will learn step-by-step protocols for critically reading existing literature and studies, followed by a framework for analyzing cultural phenomena by focusing on describable attempts of ordering (discourses, institutions, embodiments) that produce these phenomena using the example of Japan in a transcultural context. 

Course Schedule and Evaluation

For a detailed course schedule, please visit KULASIS or PandA.

To JDTS/MATS students: This is course can be taken as either reduced (4 ECTS) or full seminar (8 ECTS). Please indicate your ECTS requirement to the teacher. 
All students: Homework (20%), exercise and presentation script (50%), feedback (10%), active participation (20%). For a full seminar (8 ECTS): An additional research paper (counting 30% of the overall grade).