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LGBT Issues in SocietyーPublic Lectures at Chuo University in 2019

2019.07.05




Saeko Nagashima
Professor, Faculty of Law, Chuo University
Areas of Specialization: English literature, gender/sexuality studies

Introduction

We are pleased to announce that Chuo University is holding a new lecture series called LGBT Issues in Society in 2019 at the Korakuen Campus.(See details here.) It is open to the public, free admission, and no registration required. The first lecture, “LGBT and Statistics” was held successfully on Saturday, May 25, attracting approximately 100 participants from inside and outside Chuo. This article will give you an overview of this new lecture series, with brief introduction to the forthcoming lectures.

Diversity, Inclusion, and LGBT lectures at Chuo

LGBT issues in Society is a continuation of our well-received lecture series in 2018, LGBT and Legal/Social Issues-Connecting the Past, the Present, and the Future(See details here.) This year again, Hiroyuki Taniguchi (Kanazawa University) and I jointly coordinate five new lectures. 2018’s LGBT and Legal/Social Issues was a joint project with the Lawyers for LGBT & Allies Network (LLAN), focussing on the areas of legal and administrative issues. This year, we expand the topics to include wider gender/sexual diversity in various other areas.

The basic concept of the lectures, however, remains the same: connecting academic research to the public. We explore the accumulated research expertise and knowledge about gender and sexuality in different fields, and look into the ways they have connected or could potentially connect to activities in various areas of society. We hope this event will serve as a space where participants will learn and develop their own thoughts through the communication between the panelists, as well as through the interaction between the panel members and the participants.

Chuo University has officially formed the Diversity Promotion Committee since April 2019. (See details here.) Throughout the course of the lectures on LGBT issues from May to December, we also hope to be able to let you know the outcome of the university's work on diversity and inclusion.

Themes of the Five Lectures

This year’s five-part lecture series will cover the following topics: statistics, history, disaster prevention, art, and children and youth. These are themes that are not often featured in lectures like this, but are nonetheless all deeply relevant to our daily lives.

The first lecture, “LGBT and Statistics” (May 25 with Saori Kamano and Yasuharu Hidaka) was a precious opportunity to listen directly to experts who have been conducting statistical surveys in Japan related to gender and sexuality, where we could learn about the difficulties and significances of those surveys. The second lecture, “LGBT and History” (July 13 with Kanako Akaeda and Hitoshi Ishida) will show us, from the perspective of historical sociology, what becomes visible by exploring the hidden past, and what significance history bears in our understanding of gender and sexuality.

The third lecture, “LGBT and Disaster Prevention” will come after summer (September 28 with Ai Mori, and Azusa Yamashita), in time with Disaster Prevention Month. Natural disasters affect everyone with sudden force, but the ways people experience them differ depending on each person's personal situation in society. It will be a rare opportunity to think about LGBT issues in the context of natural disasters, and we hope people interested in providing aid to disaster-struck areas will attend. The fourth lecture, “LGBT and Art” (November 23 with Yuichi Kuroiwa, Minori Suzuki, and Eiki Mori), will present queer artworks and the commentaries on them, exploring the connection between art and society.

In the final lecture, “LGBT and Children/Youth” (December 14 with Mai Sugita and Megumi Fuji), the panelists, who have been working for LGBT children and youth, will discuss the issues about children/youth and gender and sexuality. It will be a good chance to think of the challenges we have in today’s society in order to support children and young people.

All these lectures will explore, through LGBT perspectives, themes that are significant to our society as a whole. We believe LGBT Issues in Society will provide a great learning opportunity to everyone who participates in any part of it.

Conclusion

This is a picture of Chuo University students and graduates, in the Tokyo Rainbow Pride Parade in Harajuku and Shibuya on April 28, 2019. The annual event celebrates diversity in gender and sexuality in our society. A recently established alumni association of young Chuo graduates, Hakumon Isshinkai, organized a float for the parade this year, with people affiliated with many different universities. These young students and graduates also voluntarily held a study group to learn about gender/sexual diversity. They participate in social events like this, enjoying taking a proactive approach toward achieving fairness and equality in society.

The recent film, On the Basis of Sex, is a biopic of a female United States Supreme Court Justice called Ruth Bader Ginsburg. At the end of the film, Ginsburg makes a powerful statement to skeptical judges: “We’re not asking you to change the country. That’s already happened without any court’s permission.” In our lectures series, we hope to provide a chance for all of us to learn about the changes that are already happening in society, so that we can imagine a better future together.
Saeko Nagashima
Professor, Faculty of Law, Chuo University
Areas of Specialization: English literature, gender/sexuality studies

Saeko Nagashima is a professor at the Chuo University, Faculty of Law. She specialises in Literature, Feminism, and Gender and sexuality studies. She has been working with students, researchers, and activists inside and outside the university to create a campus that is open and inclusive in gender/sexual diversity. Her publications include Ai no Giho: Queer Reading to wa Nanika (The Art of Love: Introduction to Queer Reading) and Yomukoto no Queer: Zoku, Ai no Giho (Reading Queer: The Art of Love, Continued.)