Welcome

I am a graduate of the Ph.D. program in Political Science at the University of California, Los Angeles. I an currently a lecturer at UCLA teaching classes in comparative political theory, continental political thought, and East Asian political philosophy.

My dissertation is available through University of California’s eScholarship service:

http://escholarship.org/uc/item/275806xg

2011-2017: Ph.D., Political Science (Political Theory), University of California, Los Angeles

2014-2015:  10 Month Intensive Modern Japanese program, Inter-University Center for Japanese Language. Yokohama, Japan

Summer 2014: Summer Intensive kanbun program, Inter-University Center for Japanese Language. Yokohama, Japan

2010-2011 : Visiting Scholar, Institute d’Etudes Politiques de Bordeaux (France)

2009-2011: M.A., Political Science (Political Theory and Political Behavior). Washington State University, Pullman WA.

2004-2006: M.Sc., Politics, University of Edinburgh, (UK) Thesis title: Normalizing Putin’s Russia: Legitimacy, Power, and Language in the Search for a Post-Revolutionary Society

2001-2002: Study abroad at the Institute for International Education, St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University, Russia

1999-2004: B.A. Russian, Michigan State University, East Lansing MI

1999-2004: B.A. Political Science, Michigan State University, East Lansing MI

img_0964
the-social-contract

Translational Moments: Citizenship in Meiji Japan

Now available at: http://escholarship.org/uc/item/275806xg

I argue that translational thinking is a vital mode of political thinking. Specifically, translation always harbors a radical democratic potential. I show that translations are metaphorical relations do not referentially link a source and a target, but create new a third term which both is like and is not either of the sources. Translation creates an indeterminate relation which allows words and images to appear where they are not supposed to and to say things they are supposedly incapable of saying to people to whom they are not supposed to speak. In this way, the translation verifies the contingency of social order and reaffirms the axiom of equality by disrupting our standard patterns of sense-making.

I consider four episodes, or what I call “translational moments,” in the intense period of cultural and political change that followed Japan’s mid-19th century Meiji Restoration. Focusing on the translation of the word “citizen,” I examine how translation broke down or reinforced Tokugawa worldviews and assess the historical consequences of these disruptions. Moments one and two concretize my theoretical claims by focusing on the intertextual translation of the words “citizen” and citoyen from English and French into Japanese for the first time. Moments three and four demonstrate the expansiveness of translation as a poetic activity by examining the translation of the language of citizenship into actual social practice.

Public Places, Private Duties

I have recently finished drafting an article for initial submission on early Japanese feminism and the Freedom and Popular Rights Movement. I am very interested in the role that women played in shaping new practices of public speaking and rhetoric during the early 1880s in particular. I argue that these practices were important to the constitution of both men and women as citizens who served the state in certain ways.

My dissertation contains a chapter on the speeches of Kishida Toshiko, which only scratches the surface of a rich and insufficiently studied history. Part of the argument in my dissertation is that it was practices of rhetoric that contributed to a sense of new political possibility among the non-elite classes. The redistribution of bodies in space that public speaking required, along with the new ideas about what counted as valid knowledge which these new distributions produced, helped many people understand political equality differently. Women were particularly important, in that their simple appearance as speaking beings before an audience was a radical redistribution of people’s commonplace understanding of rational speech.

Translational Political Theory

   I recently submitted an essay for initial review in the journal Political Thoery outlining a critiqueof comparative political theory. Building on Jacques Ranciere’s understanding of aesthetics and politics, I argue that many approaches to cross-cultural exchange are fundamentally mimetic. That is, they frame the central debate in comparative political theory as a problem of adequate representation rather than abandoning the representative mode of staging cultures altogether. The mimetic approach implies a particular distribution of sense which, despite most authors’ intentions, reproduces the norms of Eurocentric thinking. It also lacks any real capacity to effect the changes that the comparative political theory project aims to bring about.

   My essay instead suggests that we think in terms of a translational political theory, which attends to the transformations of communities that take place precisely when groups that do not ordinarily find themselves in the same space recognize their co-presence. Translational political theory relaxes comparative assumptions about correctness and belonging to make for a more attentive, flexible, and democratic way of acknowledging differences of culture.

Nakae Chōmin and the Paris Commune

The main project I wish to undertake in the near future concerns another of major figure from my dissertation, Nakae Chōmin. Chōmin is known as the “Rousseau of the East” for his translation of The Social Contract and his political activism associated with the Freedom and Popular Rights Movement. Chōmin learned French initially as a government-sponsored student in Lyon, and then Paris, from 1871-1874. Little is known about his experiences in France during this period, despite their surely formative impact on his later thought and political activities. I am interested in understanding the relationship between Chōmin’s experience of the aftermath of the Paris Commune and the interpretation of liberty he later elaborated. The project, tentatively titled “Japan’s Communard: Nakae Chōmin and the Aftermath of the Paris Commune”, draws inspiration from Kristen Ross’ work concerning the commune and its afterlives. I want to develop the idea that the Commune’s afterlives extend far beyond the borders of France, or Europe for that matter. Chōmin arrived in Lyon in October of 1871, only five months after the defeat of the communards. His mandate as a government student was to learn the French language, but he studied under a number of important intellectuals aligned with the commune, including Emile Acollas. I am curious how Chōmin’s experience with these figures was woven into the political theory articulated in his translations, newspaper polemics, and his most comprehensive statement of a political philosophy, A Discourse by Three Drunkards on Government.