Nobuko Toyosawa earned her PhD in the East Asian Languages and Cultures from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2008. Before joining the Oriental Institute, she taught Japanese history and culture in the universities in the USA and UK since 2008.  She is interested in the formation of community identities during the early modern and modern eras.  Her research projects are interdisciplinary, crossing the boundaries of history, philosophy, literary studies, aesthetics, and social theory, and she is concerned with the social processes of all cultural production, including ideologies.

For Power Project, Toyosawa analyses the social relations of cultural production in order to articulate power dynamics and domination of power in the making of “Japanese” culture that shaped and defined a way of life of Japanese people at a given historical time.  By focusing on the domain of knowledge of aesthetics and various artistic forms in 18th century Japan, her project “Experiencing Culture: Aesthetic Visions of Matsudaira Sadanobu” examines big gardens of the regional lords (Daimyo teien) as the manifestation of political ideals of the benevolent leader. The analysis of sign-systems that represented these ideals reveals distinct emphasis on the social formation led by regional lords, shogun, scholars and the bureaucracy.  Considering that 18th century Japan was confronted with a need for urgent social, political, and economic reforms, one of the goals of this study is to shed light on the convergence of political theories, artistic expressions, and ideological formulations that projected an idea of community.  It eventually emerged as the fundamental aspect of “Japanese” art, culture, or/and thought, but the research also argues that the process and the development of the sense/feeling of culture were a sequence of transformations of various non-Japanese cultural elements that came to be reproduced as Japanese.