Jennifer Ellen Robertson

Jennifer Ellen Robertson

Fellow: Awarded 2011
Field of Study: East Asian Studies

Competition: US & Canada

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Jennifer Robertson is Professor of Anthropology and the History of Art at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She has non-budgeted appointments as Professor of Art & Design and Professor of Women’s Studies, and is a faculty associate in the Anthropology/History Program. Robertson is a former director and member of the Center for Japanese Studies, and an associate in the Science, Society and Technology Program and Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies.

She earned her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Cornell University in 1985, where she also earned a B.A. in the History of Art in 1975. The recipient of many fellowships and awards, Robertson was an Invited Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (1996-1997,) and an Abe Fellow 2010-2013.

Robertson is the originator and General Editor of Colonialisms, a book series from the University of California Press. Books in the series explore the historical realities, current significance, and future ramifications of imperialist practices with origins and boundaries outside of “the West.” She is also a co-editor of Critical Asian Studies.

Her six books and dozens of articles and chapters address a wide spectrum of subjects ranging from the 17th century to the present, including nativist and social rectification movements, agrarianism, sex and gender systems and ideologies, mass and popular culture, nostalgia and internationalization, urbanism, the place of Japan in American Anthropology, sexuality and suicide, theater and performance, votive and folk art, imperialism and colonialism, and eugenics and bioethics. Her publications have been translated into German, Finnish, French, Hebrew, and Japanese. She offers graduate and undergraduate courses on anthropology’s history, theories, and methods; non-western colonialisms; art and anthropology; image-based ethnography; the politics and practice of ethnography; mass and popular culture; genes, genealogies and identities; ethnic diversity in Japan; sex, gender, and sexuality in Japan; and Japanese culture and society, among others.

Robertson is currently writing and editing articles and books on the cultural history of Japanese colonialism; eugenics, bioethics, and ideologies of “blood” in Japan and Israel; the genre of war art; and humanoid robots and cyberculture in Japan and elsewhere. Although her primary area specialty is Japan, where she has lived for over two decades, Robertson has also worked in Sri Lanka (1982-1992) and since 1997 has been working in Israel/Palestine as well. In addition to her academic work, she is an artist, making collages, watercolors, serigraphs, ceramics, and oil paintings.


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