March 26, 2012

Report on Harvard-Ritsumeikan Symposium on Digital Humanities

Time and Date: 9:30 a.m.-5:45 p.m., March 3(Saturday), 2012
Place: Harvard University
Belfer Case Study Room (S020)
CGIS South Building, 1730 Cambridge St.
Participants: 65
Reported by: Keiko Suzuki
Research Manager, Digital Humanities Center for Japanese Arts and Cultures

 On March 3, Harvard-Ritsumeikan Symposium on Digital Humanities took place at Harvard University. The symposium was co-hosted by the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Harvard University, and the Digital Humanities Center for Japanese Arts and Cultures (DH-JAC), Ritsumeikan University, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and JSPS International Training Program. Six members from our Center presented their papers, together with four from Harvard, and one each from MIT, Columbia University, the MFA, Boston, and the North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources. With sixty-five participants, we had lively discussion all day long. 

The symposium started with welcome words from Prof. Andrew Gordon, Director of the Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Harvard University. The morning session was to introduce our Center's research and educational activities, which was done by four leaders of the five research groups and myself.

After lunch, three panel sessions were held. The first one was about "Digital Archives for Japanese Studies," for which, each of four presenter talked about his or her digital archiving project. Dr. Beth Katzoff discussed the Makino Collection on the History of East Asian Film, C.V. Starr East Asian Library, Columbia University. She elucidated the current situation and challenges of the Collection and drew the audience's attention to the issues of film-related copy rights. Now the Center's visiting scholar, Dr. Atsuko Oya, when she was a Ph. D. candidate, participated in the Collection's archival project by utilizing the ITP Program. The second presenter was Dr. Sarah Thompson, Assistant Curator, Japanese Prints, Art of Asia, Oceania, and Africa, MFA, Boston, which is our Center's partner organization for the ITP Program. She discussed the future of the six-year archiving project of the museum's ukiyo-e collection, one of the biggest in the world. Prof. Andrew Gordon introduced the Digital Archive of Japan's 2011 Disasters project, an initiative of the Institute. This massive project started right after the earthquake to archive as much of the digital record of the disasters as possible. He discussed how to retain born-digital information as historical research material. Prof. Akama suggested new possibilities in Japanese studies, made possible by the synergy of various archives. Archiving contents in various media, including born-digital ones, the four presenters shared their concerns about the archive's copy right issues.

The second session in the afternoon was about Collaboration in Historical GIS. Prof. Tomoki Nakaya explained his project of "Mapping Historical Geospatial Information of Kyoto." Then, Prof. Yano discussed "The Next Challenge of Virtual Kyoto." The Director of the Center for Geographic Analysis Institute for Quantitative Social Science, Harvard University, Prof. Peter Bol discussed accumulation of historical maps as the infrastructure of historical geographic information, and what kinds of academic findings can be expected from the accumulation. After the panel's presentations, the panelists got more than a few questions about applicability of the Virtual Kyoto, and details of how the machiya survey was conducted.

The last session of the day was about the Future Use of Multimedia Environments for Japanese Studies. Prof. Shigeru Miyagawa of MIT discussed university classes in the near future with an example of the Open Course Ware (OCW), free online course materials, and how the OCW uses databases of visual materials from Japan and overseas. The Executive Director of the North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources, Victoria Lyon Bestor introduced its site of the "Japanese Digital Resources," a directory of digital resources vendors and agents in Japan to support Japanese Studies overseas. A Japanese Studies librarian of the Harvard-Yenching Library, Harvard University, Kuniko Yamada McVey discussed the DH and Japanese Studies, referring to the Digital Humanities Manifesto 2.0. The last presentation of the day was given by Prof. Kozaburo Hachimura, who discussed how to reproduce the experience of the Yamahoko Parade with the five senses. That means not only the visual reproduction, including extremely high-resolution one, but also the ones through the other senses. He demonstrated the Virtual Yamahoko Parade of Gion Festival, a part of the Digital Museum Project. As the presenters in this session addressed many possible ways of DH research, the audience asked questions about the knowledge that was not based on the conventional print media, and how to acquire such knowledge.  

Prof. Andrew Gordon wrapped up the symposium by mentioning that he was looking forward to future conversations and projects with us.  

The presenters and their titles are as follows:
●Introduction to the Digital Humanities Center for Japanese Arts and Culture (DH-JAC), Ritsumeikan University
Moderator: Andrew Gordon
Kozaburo Hachimura: Collaboration between IT and the Humanities: The Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University
Ryo Akama: Constructing e-Research Platforms for Japanese Cultural Heritage
Keiji Yano: Virtual Kyoto: Preserving and sharing historical geo-spatial information of
Mitsuyuki Inaba: Research and Development on Web-based Platforms for Scholarly Communication and Learning
Kozaburo Hachimura: Digital Archives Technology Group
Keiko Suzuki: Toward the Further International Development of the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures

●Digital archive for Japanese Studies
Moderator: Theodore Bestor, Reischauer Institute Professor of Social Anthropology and Japanese Studies and Chair, Dept. of Anthropology, Harvard University
Beth Katzoff: The Makino Collection at Columbia
Sarah Thompson: Japanese Prints Access and Documentation Project (JPADP) January 2005-June 2010
Andrew Gordon: Digital Archive of Japan's 2011 Disasters
Ryo Akama: Digital Revolution in the Study of Japanese Art and Culture: The Digital Age Provides Epoch-making New Opportunities on Object Research

●Collaboration in Historical GIS
Moderator: Shigeru Miyagawa
Tomoki Nakaya: Mapping Historical Geospatial Information of Kyoto
Keiji Yano: The Next Challenge of Virtual Kyoto: Collaboration in Historical GIS
Peter Bol: Historical Geographic Information Systems

●Future Use of Multimedia Environments for Japanese Studies
Moderator: Peter Bol
Shigeru Miyagawa: Visualizing Cultures: Image-Driven Scholarship and Learning
Victoria Lyon Bestor: Multimedia for the Masses: Thinking about Gateway Services
Kuniko Yamada McVey: A genre in a Hurry: DH and the Japanese Studies: The Digital Humanities Manifesto 2.0
Kozaburo Hachimura: Virtual Yamahoko Parade of Gion Festival


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