Yale University Department of Anthropology

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    Yale Universityhttp://www.yale.edu

Karen Nakamura

Associate Professor of Anthropology &

East Asian Studies

Ph.D. Yale University, 2001


Office address:
10 Sachem Street, Room 213
Tel: (203) 432-3795
Fax: (203) 432-3669




Introduction: I am a cultural and visual anthropologist whose research focuses on disability and minority social movements in contemporary Japan. My ethnography about sign language, identity, and deaf social movements was published by Cornell University Press in 2006. More recently, I have been engaged in a new project on the comparative politics of severe physical and psychiatric disabilities in the United States and Japan. While my main focus is disabilities and minorities, I also work on issues surrounding gender and sexuality.

Self-identity: I was born in Indonesia and grew up in Australia, Japan, and the United States. However, I'm a bit uncomfortable with the term "Asian-American" as I'm not quite Asian and not really American, but Returnee -Japanese -Born-Indonesian - Bred-Australian- Quasi-American is a mouthful most people don't want to handle.

Research interests: Minority social movements and identity politics, disability, mental illness, sign language, civil society, gender and sexuality, sociocultural anthropology, and visual culture.

Fellowships and Awards: I was on a Yale Junior Faculty Fellowship (2007-2008) to conduct research on psychiatric and physical disabilities in Japan. I was previously granted an Abe Fellowship from the Social Science Research Council and Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership to pursue my research on comparative disability politics in Japan and the United States during the 2004-2005 academic year. A little while back, one of my journal articles won the 2003 ISS/Oxford University Press Prize for Modern Japanese Studies. It was later selected to be one of Oxford University Press' 100 seminal papers celebrating their centennial of academic publishing. More recently, my monograph Deaf in Japan was awarded the 2008 John Whitney Hall Book Prize by the Association for Asian Studies.

National Service: I am on the editorial board of the American Anthropologist and was elected co-chair of the Society for Lesbian and Gay Anthropology (SOLGA). I am also on the Board for the Society for Visual Anthropology (2009-2012) and have previously served for the AAA on the Long Range Planning Committee, AAA Minority Issues in Anthropology Commission (2005.11-2008.11), as well as a liaison to the Committee on Ethics. If you have any thoughts or concerns relating to minority issues within the AAA, please do not hesitate to contact me by e-mail or telephone.

Prospective Graduate Students: Students interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in Anthropology and/or Japan Studies at Yale University should feel free to contact me either by e-mail or telephone. The photograph to the right is the current and past cohorts of Japan anthropologists at Yale (and some guests). As you can see, we have quite a number of doctoral students studying Japan anthropology, which makes for a very vibrant and exciting program.

Deaf in Japan

Signing and the Politics of Identity

Cornell University Press, 2006

Recent & Featured Publications