Iris Haukampreceived her PhD in Media and Film Studies from SOAS (London) in 2015 and is currently (as of July 2017) a visiting scholar at the Institute of Japan Studies at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.
She teaches and researches film studies, and Japanese film history in particular. Her research interests include the interplay of film and society, the relationship between film and history, and transnational film relations in the interwar period of the past century.
She will speak at the second Tokyo Humanities Cafe in September 2017.
1. Can you describe a turning point in your career?
So far, the decision to return to my PhD work after a long period of forced interruption. Going against the odds really confirmed my ambition to pursue a career as a researcher and educator.
2. What question are you currently exploring in your work?
How did the work of various Japanese filmmakers in the transwar period interact with the drastically changing socio-political circumstances of those times?
3. Which artist or writer has had the most influence on you?
Heinrich Christian Wilhelm Busch, best known for his 1865 satirical "kid's story" Max and Moritz. His witty rhymes pop up in my head all the time and in the most inopportune moments. (“The good (I am convinced, for one) / Is but the bad one leaves undone.”). I think that my early exposure to Busch’s work has sparked my fascination with sharp but humorous social criticism voiced through popular culture, and hence my interest in a group of Japanese filmmakers engaged in that pursuit.
4. What do you think is the value of the humanities?
To help us as a species to understand our place in the world we inhabit and shape. Here’s my favourite Japanese director on this:
“It is impossible, however, to analyse the behaviour of human beings as living, organic entities in a purely logical manner. In other words, once an intellectual problem becomes connected to human behaviour, it changes into an intricate complex of intentions and emotions.”
(Itami Mansaku, 1946)
5. What does the future hold for your field?
The rapid developments in the area of audio-visual media and the increasing role they play in human interaction and understanding of the world make me wonder about that very question. It will certainly be challenging, important, and exciting.