Assistant Professor of Japanese Studies
- Japanese Studies
- East Asian Studies
- Environmental Studies
- Ph.D., University of Hawaii at Manoa
- M.A., University of Hawaii at Manoa
- B.A., Utah State University
Landrum Bolling Center
Monday 11am-12pm; Thursday 10am-11am
I teach courses related to Japanese culture and society as well as courses related to environments in Japan and the greater East Asia region. Among the courses I teach are: Introduction to Japanese Studies; Japanese Popular Culture; Japanese Culture and the Environment.
I am originally from Salt Lake City, Utah. As a child and young adult I spent much of my time in northern Utah's Wasatch and Uinta mountains, southern Utah's red-rock deserts, and the "sagebrush ocean" of the Great Basin.
I did my undergraduate work in anthropology at Utah State University, which is where I began studying the Japanese language. In 1999 I traveled to Japan for the first time as an exchange student at Kansai Gaidai in Osaka. There I began two life-long love affairs, one with the person who would later become my life partner and the other with the city of Kyoto.
I returned to Japan in 2002 as an English teacher on the JET Program and fell in love once again; this time with the craggy peaks and lush forests of central Nagano. Consequently, when I wasn't teaching English, I spent most of my time hiking, climbing, camping, and snowboarding.
The path forward in my life journey opened in very profound ways during my time in Nagano. I began dating and soon married my partner, found a graduate school program that suited my interests, and discovered a site (both geographical and intellectual) of inquiry that continues to captivate me to this day.
I returned again to Japan in 2008 as a Monbukagausho researcher to conduct fieldwork for my Ph.D. dissertation. My partner and I took up residence in Otaki, a small village located at the base of a sacred mountain in Nagano's Kiso Region. We ended up staying in the village for two years and developed deep connections to both the people and landscapes there. Otaki remains a place that is profound to me in intellectual, emotional, and spiritual ways.
I was blessed to join the Earlham community in the fall of 2013 and immediately began to feel affection for both the place and the people. Though it is strange not to have mountains around, I am learning to love the subtle undulations of the land.
As a cultural anthropologist I study human-environment interactions and the ways in which globalized flows of capital, materials, and ideas influence how people give meaning to and interact with the places they inhabit. My central academic interests revolve around the cultural dimensions of sustainability and resource management both as globalized sets of ideas and practices and as practical dilemmas confronting local communities in Japan.
My primary research looks at forest ecologies in Japan’s Kiso Valley as contested spaces where meanings are produced by local residents, government officials, and other actors who draw upon global networks of materials, ideas, and relationships. I ask how forests in central Japan’s Kiso Valley come into being and are reproduced as cultural objects infused with contentious ideas of nature, nationhood, citizenship, and governance. I also examine the role these conceptual natures play in mediating human-environment interactions and struggles for sustainability.
American Anthropological Association
Midwest Japan Seminar
Society for Applied Anthropology
Association for Asian Studies