Japan Gateway: The Kyoto University Top Global Program in Social Sciences and Humanities started Kyoto University and Heidelberg University Joint Degree Master of Arts Program in Transcultural Studies(JDTS) in October 2017.
Ms. Gunde Dauksyte is a 2nd year masters student in this very program. The program includes completing the first year of her masters degree at Heidelberg University in Germany and the second year at Kyoto University where she is currently finishing her research.
Description of Ms. Gunde’s Research Focus
My master’s thesis is about anarchism in Japan. I mostly focused on written text rather than the movements so I didn’t actually go take interviews I mostly just gathered texts and books. In the beginning I had ideas for this massive project where I look into all these different people and texts but in the end my project turned out to be focused on just one person and one decade which I think is probably common for masters students; that you start by wanting to do so much and you end up doing a very specific, narrow thing.
Favorite Memory From the Program
The thing that left a big impression on me was the Sakyō ward in Kyoto and the Sakyō wonderland festival. The last festival of spring was called the anarchy festival, and it kind of coincided with my research although I’m not exactly sure why they used anarchy in the title. They had some articles in a pamphlet about being slightly opposed to the government, and trying to do things on their own through bringing the community together. I think that was quite memorable to me because I didn’t expect to find anarchism, so to speak, so close to the university and so close to home. The festivals are also real fun because it’s just a bunch of people who always stop to chat and it seems like everyone knows each other. I think that was the most memorable for me- just experiencing the phenomenon of Sakyō ward.
Most Important Reason for Conducting Research
That’s a very big question- what is the meaning of life? With anarchism particularly I think it has the potential to make us think critically about established systems and established institutions. We don’t necessarily have to go out and destroy everything that exists today but I think just being assimilated to think critically is good; whether it’s people in academia doing research who can perhaps critically deconstruct ideas or whether it’s regular people who read works about anarchism and can challenge their views a little bit. They don’t have to necessarily become anarchists themselves but to think critically about things that we often take for granted is a very good thing.
Future Plans and Program Take-aways
I’m going to stay in Japan to do an internship at the Lithuanian embassy in Tokyo for two months. After that I plan to apply for PhD’s and the one that I want to apply to most is in Venice and is also a transcultural studies joint degree PhD program. I think for transcultural studies programs you can’t not go abroad and still be able to experience transculturality. For this kind of program having some sort of international experience is very important because it is all about culture and transculturality and so on. Since I’m from Lithuania, got my bachelors degree in the UK, and completed half of my masters in Germany and half in Japan, I think it really allowed me to experience transcultural studies not just as a theoretical thing but also as a way of life.
Message to people considering this program
I definitely recommend this program to anyone who is willing to work hard and challenge their views about cultural phenomena and area studies. Regardless of what you decide to do after, JDTS at Kyoto and Heidelberg universities will give you a new perspective on things that you encounter everyday and endow you with academic skills applicable in many fields. If you are unsure whether the program is right for you, I recommend reading some of the work written by professors teaching the program or some introductory texts to the concept of transculturality. If you get curious and excited to learn more then you will likely enjoy the program!