Past members’ experiences

大和愛采 Narusa Yamato

《Could you recap your activities and achievements at RUBiC for us?》

I am Narusa Yamato, a fifth-year Ph.D. student in Stanford University’s Department of History. I was affiliated with RuBic for several months when I was conducting my dissertation field work in Japan. Tentatively titled Milk for the Nation: A History of the Japanese Dairy Industry, 1854-1952,  my dissertation explores how cow’s milk was commodified in the Japanese nation and empire. In particular, my project examines how imperialism and capitalism were intertwined. Because of this focus, my dissertation requires a diverse range of primary sources from corporate, regional, and national archives.

Being affiliated with RuBic greatly assisted me in this ambitious endeavor by offering a base in Tokyo and granting me access to the University of Tokyo’s Economic Department Library. The library was incredibly helpful because it offered a plethora of primary and secondary sources and because the interlibrary loan gave me access to materials in distant prefectures. I cannot thank the kind and attentive librarians enough for all their generous help. Aside from conducting research, I attended the weekly seminars run by Professor Koji Yamamoto. Composed of his masters, doctoral, and post-doctoral students, his seminar provided a platform for students, especially master’s students,  to develop their research. Leveraging my experience supervising students at Stanford as a TA and instructor, developing my expertise in material history, and completing a master’s thesis at Harvard University, I engaged in academically stimulating discussions, offering suggestions to nurture their projects. My dissertation project also benefited from the fresh insights. I appreciate Professor Yamamoto and his students for warmly welcoming me to their intellectually vibrant community.

《What’s the next step for you? Could you briefly describe your current/future goals? How did your time at RUBiC prepare you for the next chapter?》

I now returned to Stanford to write my dissertation. The fruitful time I spent in Japan enabled me to collect a substantial amount of sources. I also feel that taking an active part in the weekly seminars sharpened my skills not only as a researcher but also as a mentor. Going forward, I would like to mobilize these skills for my future career. I encourage future researchers affiliated with RuBic to take advantage of the rich academic resources of the university and to immerse themselves in the intellectual environment of the community.

=March 2024=

Lillian Tsay 蔡暁林(サイ ギョウリン)

《Could you recap your activities and achievements at RUBiC for us?》

At RUBiC, I primarily participated in Professor Yamamoto’s seminar, where I not only learned about the impressive research of my junior colleagues but also received feedback on my own project. I have honed my presentation skills and workshopped my grant proposals, all of which received very positive feedback from students with diverse backgrounds. As a PhD candidate, I also had the rare opportunity to mentor some master’s students in the seminar. Furthermore, I attended numerous events organized by the Historian’s Workshop, including talks by invited speakers and the “Research Showcase.” Participating in these events had exposed me to diverse topics in Japanese academia, which was invaluable for my development as a scholar.Thanks to generous funding from the university, I had the opportunity to co-organize a symposium with two colleagues at RUBiC. Titled “Navigating Commodities: Production, Markets, and Consumption in History,” the symposium received a large number of applications. We selected 14 excellent papers covering various aspects of commodity history from around the world and different time periods to be presented in Tokyo. This was a fantastic experience as a graduate student, and I greatly benefited from the opportunity to organize this symposium alongside my esteemed colleagues at RUBiC.

What’s the next step for you? Could you briefly describe your current/future goals? How did your time at RUBiC prepare you for the next chapter?》

After my visit to RUBiC, I returned to Taiwan and am currently a visiting student at the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica. I will conduct research and complete my dissertation during my time here. While in Japan with RUBiC, I spent the year gathering materials for my dissertation and wrote several sample chapters. I also had the opportunity to refine my Japanese language skills and present my work at conferences in Japan. I appreciate these experiences as a graduate student specializing in Japan studies in the U.S.

《Could you say a few words about your experience at RUBiC? Any words of advice for future potential visitors?》

I have a very positive experience at RUBiC. It is a very friendly and global community. I would say that don’t hesitate to share your work even with people outside of your field. If you speak Japanese, it is also a good opportunity to practice! Also make sure that you take advantage of the University of Tokyo’s library resources and explore the amazing Tokyo. 

=March 2024=