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Genealogies of Curiosity and Material Desire:
How has consumer taste been constructed?

26-28 March 2012, Gakushuin University, Tokyo

Dear Colleagues,

On behalf of the Faculty of Economics, Gakushuin University, which is hosting History of Consumer Culture 2012 Conference, and the Conference Committee, I would like to welcome you to Gakushuin, which has a long and distinguished history, originating in the ‘Old Gakushuin’ established in 1847 in Kyoto as the educational institution of the Imperial Court. The University is now located in Mejiro, in a leafy surroundings, rather unusual for a campus in central Tokyo, and much admired by students and visitors alike.

When the Conference Committee took its decision to organize the conference at Gakushuin, no one could have thought that a natural catastrophe would happen to lead us to postpone the conference. Having struggled to overcome the initial effect of the earthquake that struck Japan on the 11th of March, 2011, we have come out more determined to bring a successful conference for all the participants who have generously agreed to postpone their visitation to Japan for over half a year. We would like to thank you sincerely for cooperation and understanding, and apologise deeply for those who could not manage to rearrange the timing of their travel for various reasons.

The Faculty of Economics and the University have placed their infrastructure and human resources at your disposal: the University offers the International Conference Room in the newly constructed Central Building as our conference venue; the Faculty of Economics offers its secretarial staffs to assist the Conference Committee; and the Conference Committee, headed by Professor Toshio Kusamitsu of Open University of Japan, has tried to ensure both a pleasant and well-functioning environment for this international gathering.

The programme consists of over twenty papers and four keynote speeches to be presented over the two and a half days, addressing issues relating to the history of consumer culture. Relationship between consumers on one hand, and culture and norms on the other, are one of the central issues, as well as the concepts of ‘taste’, ‘curiosity’ and ‘material desire’. The role of various types and sectors of art, business and leisure are another of the main themes treated in terms of their historical and contemporary significance, often transcending across geographical and sociological borders.

Our optional tour, moreover, will be one of a kind, guaranteed to bring you a different experience and a glimpse of consumer fantasies of Edo and bygone Tokyo. The urban culture of our metropolis has been in style for hundreds of years, celebrating its well-groomed parks and the open waterfront, and exquisite arts and crafts and its exotic delicacies. I would like to recommend you to discover some of its many charms, hopefully through the long afternoon of the final day with us, and also just through wandering the university campus and the surrounding parks – as the pink petals of cherry blossoms are bound to be in bloom by the time of the conference. Fingers crossed.

Shinobu Majima

on behalf of the Conference Committee and the Faculty of Economics




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Updated: 2011-12-21