Home / The Culture and Politics of Biodiversity – the case of Lake Biwa


Speaker: Dr Michael Wood (Chapman University, Southern California)

Date: June 24 (18:00-19:30)

Venue: Education Department Meeting Room (教育学部会議室)- Ground Floor, Education Department Building, Arts and Humanities Campus 

Seminar Abstract

In this moment of globalized capital and genetic flow of integrated economies, we see communities and ecologies transforming suddenly and irreversibly. The anxiety and struggle caused by these rapidly changing landscapes, are not simply economic and biologic, but also cultural and social. As legitimate global anxiety over biodiversity in general and more specific local concerns regarding damaging invasive species in Japan developed in the early 1990s, the ecology of Lake Biwa became ground zero in the debate over effective resource management.  This has led to an all-out war that pits a fading industrial terrain against an emerging globalized, post-industrial landscape: A war that has necessitated the deployment of hi-tech weaponry, policies of species extermination, legislative action, and targeted media campaigns. The bio-politics and bio-economics of Lake Biwa today is not simply a matter of competing lifestyles, but very much an inter-species struggle pitting newer arrivals to the ecosystem against older ones. This research attempts to think through the common discourse of invasive species, in an attempt to better understand the complex ecology as it relates to more abstract global matrix.


Michael Wood, PhD is Assistant Professor of Japanese Studies and Director of Asian Languages in the Department of World Languages and Cultures at Chapman University in Southern California. He has also taught at University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Hokkaido University, Fuji Women’s University, Doshisha University, University of New Orleans, Tulane University.  He received his doctorate in East Asian Languages and Literatures from University of Oregon in 2009. His research focuses on global, national, and regional manifestations of cultural, social, and intellectual discourse in transnational and border-crossing contexts. His work includes studies of early modern Japanese castaway narratives, Ainu hagaki, and ecological problems in Japan.


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