Writing a blog post is often related to that feeling of having too many browser tabs open. Before I close them, I wanted to jot down some unstructured thoughts on my recent reading around effective altruism (EA). Continue reading
With my piece on the 1967 Robson Report forthcoming, I am nearing the final stretches of publishing the research of my dissertation in peer-reviewed journals. Finishing my PhD in three years from 2015-18, I wasn’t able to do it while engaged in my doctoral research. This was fortuitous in hindsight (I am biased of course) as it kept me from being distracted by the vagaries of scientific publishing. It would have made both processes–the publishing and the research–longer and altered the final product significantly. Continue reading
Having a little more mental space –a major paper on the Robson Reports is currently under review with an academic journal and work is still in summer mode– I have had some time to think about new potential intellectual ventures, or “future ideas”, as this category on the blog is called. Continue reading
For the walker in Tokyo, the unexpected is always waiting (Jinnai Hidenobu)
Craig Mod is a publisher / artist / entrepreneur and flaneur whose newsletters I follow. He is based in Tokyo and accompanies his regular dispatches with great photography in which he captures details of the Japanese capital that are sometimes hard to describe in words.
His most recent “pop up” mailing list was a weeklong walking tour through the Tokyo of his memories. I was reminded of some of the academic stuff I have been teaching my students at Temple about space and memory, but also of my own time in the city.
I wrote a lengthy annotated bibliography for Oxford University Press’s Urban Studies series, for which I got commissioned last year and which kept me busy for an extended period of time. This 20-page document was much more fun to prepare than I thought.
It felt a little bit like writing an ode to the city I have come to know the best of all places I have ever lived in. This is because I spent several years researching its past as my full time occupation of course, but also because getting to know it required me to shed all preconceptions of how to perceive space.
My Japanese language skills were never good enough to approach Tokyo through primary literature, so this bibliography lists English works only. It is by no means exhaustive but the 100+ sources cover a lot of different aspects of the city’s history and current issues.
Jordan Sand offered generous help in identifying new sources and trimming the narrative. I hope it flows well enough to also offer something beyond the specific research query people might use this list for and discover something new.
The full text is behind the OUP paywall, but I hear many academic institutions have access to it. If not, please get in touch.
The thematic chapters are:
- General Historical Overviews for Edo/Tokyo
- 1603–1867: Edo Period
- The Scepter of Destruction
- Economic History
- Political and Social History
- Contested Spaces
- Tokyo as a World, Global, and Neoliberal City
- History of Urban Planning
- Tokyo Urban Form
- From Urban Tropes to Urban Theory
- Placemaking and Heritage
- Iconic Districts
- Tokyo Neighborhoods
- Gender and Sexuality
- Tokyo Imagined
An article drawing on one of my PhD dissertation’s core chapters has just been published by Cities, an urban studies journal. In summary:
- This paper zooms in on one of the most remarkable case studies of urban growth, i.e. that of Tokyo during the postwar period 1955-1975. Despite the city’s rapid transformation at the heart of the Japanese economic miracle, it became more egalitarian instead of stratifying spatially.
- Charting this process for Tokyo’s 23 central wards, this paper analyzes inequalities between these administrative subunits over a 20-year period focusing on living space per capita, urban form and business densities.
- Besides a homogenization in living standards, the 23-ward area under review here also became more equal in terms of its urban form, while neighborhoods retained their traditional character with a high density of bathhouses, small retailers and construction establishments.
- Tokyo’s non-Western urbanism and recent experience of rapid megacity growth make it more relevant to contemporary developing cities and help historicize the discourse of rapidly growing, large cities.
Resurrecting this blog’s travelogue function, herewith some photos of our first trip from Australia, to New Zealand’s North Island. We initially wanted to hire a campervan but eventually decided against it. Instead we went around by rental car and packed the days with highlights for the little one.
My friend Rob has dug up some old cassettes, yes, tapes, from the mid-1990s when we all made electronic music using a variety of now arcane-seeming tools. My weapon of choice was “FastTracker II”, a software sequencer used primarily by amateur techno and hardcore producers at the time. It only required a PC running MS-DOS and a reasonable sound card. They were quite simple to use, but required some manual tricks and hacks to push their boundaries and sound effects. It seemed like an eternity before digital audio workstations became available to everyone. (Here is a great summary of the technology and the now-distant culture surrounding it.)
Browsing through the deep archives of the web, I rediscovered some of my own writings from many years ago. One of the posts on my old weblog in particular caught me eye. It’s 17 years old, and about the concept of “Eurasianism”, one of Putin’s ideological foundations in his dangerously hodge-podge worldview.
I’m not going to comment on this from today’s point of view and whether or not it (still) is as relevant as some people make it out to be. But still, I couldn’t resist posting this. I wrote this entry in response to a former blogging buddy visiting a SAIS seminar featuring Aleksandr Dugin (!). I wish my analysis had turned out right, but my youthful self seems to have been engaged in some wishful thinking. Continue reading