Speaker Jennifer Robertson, PhD
Professor, University of Michigan/Abe Fellow (2010)
When Friday, June 7, 2019, from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Where International House of Japan Lecture HallAccess別サイトへ移動します
5-11-16 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Outline Japan is arguably the first postindustrial society to embrace the prospect of human-robot coexistence. Over the past decade, Japanese humanoid robots designed for use in homes, hospitals, offices, and schools have become celebrated in mass and social media throughout the world. In Robo sapiens japanicus: Robots, Gender, Family, and the Japanese Nation (University of California Press, 2018), Jennifer Robertson casts a critical eye on press releases and public relations videos that misrepresent robots as being as versatile and agile as their science fiction counterparts. An ethnography and sociocultural history of governmental and academic discourse of human-robot relations in Japan, this book explores how actual robots—humanoids, androids, and animaloids—are “imagineered” in ways that reinforce the conventional sex/gender system and political-economic status quo. She traces the early 20th century and wartime backstories informing the images, applications, and receptions of robots today. In addition, Robertson interrogates the notion of human exceptionalism as she considers whether “civil rights” should be granted to robots. How robots and robotic exoskeletons reinforce a conception of the “normal body” (gotai manzoku 五体満足) is discussed together with a critique of Masahiro Mori’s much-invoked but misconstrued concept of bukimi no tani (不気味の谷), or “uncanny valley”
Language Presentation in English with Japanese questions accepted.
Admission Admission free. Booking required.
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Speaker Profile

Dr. Jennifer Robertson

Dr. Jennifer Robertson is Professor of Anthropology and the History of Art at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She has appointments as Professor of Art & Design and Professor of Women's Studies. A former director and member of the Center for Japanese Studies, she is also an affiliate faculty of the Robotics Institute and the Institute for Research on Women and Gender (IRWG). Robertson earned her PhD in Anthropology from Cornell University in 1985, where she also earned a BA in the History of Art in 1975. The Japan Editor of Critical Asian Studies, Robertson’s seven books and over eighty articles and chapters address a wide spectrum of subjects in Anthropology, History of Art, and Japan Studies ranging from the 17th century to the present. She is currently researching, writing, and editing articles on the cultural history of Japanese eugenics, bio-art and contemporary art, and human-robot interfaces in Japan and elsewhere. http://www.jenniferrobertson.info別サイトへ移動します
Robertson is a 2010 Abe Fellow and her Abe project was entitled “Safety, Security, Convenience: The Political Economy of Service Robots in Japan”.

Photo of Dr. Jennifer Robertson


Abe Fellowship Program
Social Science Research Council Tokyo Office
C/O The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership
4-16-3 Yotsuya, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0004, Japan
Tel: +81-(0)3-5369-6085
Fax: +81-(0)3-5369-6042