Anthropology professor honored by Librarian of Congress

October 2, 2008

William F. Vilas Professor of Anthropology Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney has been named John W. Kluge Distinguished Chair of Modern Culture by the Librarian of Congress.

Beginning next semester, Ohnuki-Tierney will join a select group of resident scholars in Washington, D.C., for six months. During her stay, Ohnuki-Tierney will research her new book on quotidian aesthetics — things that represent repetitive, everyday aspects of life — in warfare from a comparative perspective.

“Beauty is an integral part of warfare, whether it’s the so-called ‘tribal’ warfare, where they decorate themselves with feathers and the painting of the body, [or] modern warfare,” she says.

The book will incorporate topics she has discussed in her previous works, “Kamikaze, Cherry Blossoms and Nationalisms: The Militarization of Aesthetics in Japanese History” and “Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers,” as well as themes from the book she is currently writing on communication through words and symbols by comparing the modern authoritarian states of the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and Japan.

Ohnuki-Tierney will occupy an office in the John W. Kluge Center of the Office of Scholarly Programs at the Library of Congress and will have full access to all the multilingual, multimedial and multidisciplinary resources of the library.

“[The library] is a fantastic place in terms of the resources from all over the world, including Japan,” Ohnuki-Tierney says.

She is also looking forward to utilizing the library’s vast collection of prints and photography.

During her stay, Ohnuki-Tierney will give at least one public presentation for the broader public policy community in Washington and may participate in meetings or conversations open to members of Congress and congressional staff.

The John W. Kluge Chairs are chosen for their achievements in the humanities and social sciences whose research will be enhanced by the collections in the Library of Congress.

The John W. Kluge Center was founded by Kluge himself in 2000 with a $60 million donation. The funds support five chairs, 12 fellowships and the Kluge Prize of $1 million awarded every two years.