Mutual Images

is creating a peer-reviewed research journal

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MUTUAL IMAGES RESEARCH ASSOCIATION is an independent research association looking at the “mutual images” between Europe and Japan, as well as Asia as a whole, that brings together academics from different countries and fields of study.

What do you mean by “independent”?
It means that we do not belong to any university or other entity. It’s us and only us. This gives us the freedom to work as and with whom we want but it also has its challenges (especially finance wise).

What do you mean by “research”?
Both for our events and the journal, we only accept research papers. That is, the ideas introduced in the papers should all be justified and corroborated, the text should be fairly rich in quotations and a substantial bibliography should be provided at the end.

What do you mean by “association”?
This is our legal structure. We are registered in France as an association under the law of 1st July 1901.

What do we do?
We engage in two main areas of activity:

●MUTUAL IMAGES Research Journal (MIJ):
We are the creator, publisher and host of this open-access, peer-reviewed academic journal. The first issue was published in Summer 2016, the second in Winter 2017, and since then two issues per year are issued in spring and autumn.
●Organisation of events:
Since 2013, MUTUAL IMAGES RESEARCH ASSOCIATION has been organising an annual international workshop every spring, looking at the “mutual images” between, mainly, Japan and Europe. It is held alternately in Japan and Europe at different hosting universities. Three of the workshops were held in Japan (Konan University, Kobe University and Nagoya University) and three in Europe (Université François-Rabelais de Tours in France, Aarhus University in Denmark and Cardiff University in Wales, UK). Since its inauguration, our annual workshop has had a constantly growing number of participants and attendants.

In addition, other one-time workshops are organised through the year with partner institutions. For example, in November 2017, MUTUAL IMAGES co-organised a workshop at Aoyama Gakuin University (Tokyo), “Japan Pop Goes Global: Japanese Pop Culture on Aesthetics and Creativity”.

What makes us different? (Our philosophy)
Diversity. We believe that cultural diversity and multi- and inter-disciplinarity encourages dialogue and highlights new perspectives. We believe that the research we encourage contributes to a better understanding between cultures and different social groups.
Equal opportunities. We want to give young researchers and postgraduate students the same opportunities as established scholars. Our events are free, and we strive to make everyone feel valued.
To be a workshop and not a conference. What’s the difference? A conference is a big event, with hundreds, if not thousands, of academics who present the findings of their research. A workshop is a small event for one or two dozen scholars who join and all directly interact with each other.
Small is cool. Why do we want to remain small? It is important for us to make the most of this experience, and that participants stay engaged for the whole duration of the event. These workshops are like a camping trip, where everyone stays in company of the others for two days to be productive and share ideas. Many projects have emerged from discussions at our workshops. We strive to work together toward improvement.

Who’s behind Mutual Images?

Officially, five people. Actually, several hundred. Mutual Images has been running for five years already thanks to all the volunteers who help up organise events, who review and proof-read all the papers we publish. And let’s not forget all the people who trust us enough to participate in our events and publish their papers in Mutual Images Journal.
Mutual Images has a Board composed of five scholars:

About her:  for 5 years while she was writing her PhD and getting married/having a baby, she decided to take a break. That means doing only the equivalent of one full time job! She is now focusing on running Mutual Images, her family and her research. She currently lives in Lithuania.
Her research:  Anything that combines photography, Japan and children. You can read her thesis and published papers on Academia. Don’t hesitate to leave her a message to discuss it!
What she does with Mutual Images:  She is the President of the association. Aurore had the idea of Mutual Images when she was a first year PhD candidate. On the day to day running of the association, she’s the one bugging everyone with dozens of emails, planning meetings and sending to do lists.

About him:  Maxime is a modern literature PhD student at Tours University (France), trying to finish writing his thesis on time. He is currently attached to the research unit ICD (Cultural and Discursive Interactions).
His research:  Seeking to explore the “how”, “why” and “consequences” of cultural transfers from a literature to another in the 21 <sup>st</sup> century, he focuses on the ones between Europe and Japan, with a particular interest in the way the European Middle Ages and fantasy elements are portrayed in Japanese novels, manga or even in anime – in works such as Spice and Wolf, Vinland Saga, Berserk , or in the Fate’s universe .
What he does with Mutual Images:  Being there from the very start, he is one of the two vice-Presidents of Mutual Images Research Association, one of the Mutual Images journal manager, and its layout editor. You can blame him for every typo that are still here.

About him: Marco is a cultural- and media sociologist. He is a lecturer at the School of Journalism and Communication of Shanghai International Studies University and a specially appointed fellow at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. He received post-doctoral grants from the Japan Foundation (2013-14) and the JSPS (2014-16), and research grants from the Tōshiba International Foundation (2017 and 2018) and the Hōsō Bunka Foundation (2017 and 2018).
His research: it spans several sectors of media and social studies: television and broadcasting, animation, comics, video games, dynamics of soft power and popular culture in Japan and Asia. Among his monographs, the comprehensive The Dragon and the Dazzle (Latina: Tunué, with the Japan Foundation, 2010, 750 pages, It. ed. 2008) and Mazinga Nostalgia (1999, 2002, 2008; 4th revised edition Latina: Tunué, 2018, 2 vols, 1600 pages). He has published articles in academic journals such as the Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies, Arts , Animēshon Kenkyū, Yuriika, Global Manga Studies, Mechademia, International Journal of Comic Art, Belphégor , and others.
What he does with Mutual Images: he is the main editor of Mutual Images journal and contributes to provide networking for the association’s activities.

About him:  Fabio Domenico Palumbo holds a PhD in Aesthetics from the University of Messina (Italy), and is currently an honorary fellow at the Department of Ancient and Modern Civilizations at the same University. He is in the editorial board and/or collaborates with a number of academic journals and websites all across Europe. He currently lives in Italy.
His research:  His field of research includes aesthetics, visual culture, and psychoanalysis, mainly focusing on Gilles Deleuze, Slavoj Žižek and Jacques Lacan. He is also interested in the philosophical implications and interpretations of Japanese and East Asian pop culture. You can read a selection of his works on
What he does with Mutual Images:  He is secretary for Mutual Images Research Association and a member of Mutual Images Journal editorial board.

About her:  after completing her Masters in translation studies at the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), she fell in love with research and the field of translation studies, with an emphasis on Japanese and ecotourism texts. She spent a year pursuing her PhD at SOAS before deciding to focus on balancing independent research with environmental activism from her hometown, Honolulu, Hawaii. In addition to working with Mutual Images, she works for the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, is currently on the board of directors for the Hawaii Ecotourism Association, and is a freelance editor and translator.
Her research:  although translation studies is her main area, her research overlaps with tourism studies, ecotourism, and Japan studies. She’s particularly interested in the application of Translation Studies to non-literary fields, specifically looking at its impact on global environmental, economic, and political issues.
What she does with Mutual Images:  in the summer of 2016 during the 2nd East Asian Translation Studies conference at Meiji University in Tokyo, she was invited by editorial board member Matteo Fabbretti to help with proofreading for Mutual Images Journal. She is the treasurer of the association and continues to assist as a proofreader and editorial board member for the journal.

How did it all start?

This is the story of two young postgraduate students. Aurore was in her 1 <sup>st</sup> year of PhD study. She wanted to create an event that would look at the representations across cultures because she felt her research wasn’t suitable for “Japanese Studies” (her Japanese wasn’t good enough to read even less write in Japanese, so how could she?, she wondered). She also wished for a small event, somewhere where you felt you could talk to people and not feel left out because you were young and didn’t know anyone yet.

She got a friend she had met while studying in Japan on board, as well as an aspiring scholar, Maxime. At the time he was writing his Master's Dissertation. Together, they decided to organise a small workshop at their host university in Japan (Konan University, in Kobe). Once they agreed on the details, Maxime, always very thorough and ambitious, said “we need somebody well-known!”. At the time none of them had any contact in the world of research. They barely opened up the books yet! Aurore had attended one workshop in Sainsbury. When she named the scholars that had presented there, Maxime went crazy, because he was reading his book The Dragon and the Dazzle right in those days.: “You know Marco Pellitteri! Wow. Do you realise who he is?” Of course, she didn’t. She only knew that he was nice and couldn’t speak Japanese either. But why not? They emailed him, he surprisingly said yes and here we are now.

So this is how two new postgraduate students, with no experience of participating in workshops, started their own, which has been going on for more than 6 years now!

And what about the journal?
The idea of the journal came later. At the second workshop, Marco was encouraging us to do something with those papers. “We need to have them published”, he insisted. All reasonable persons with already too much work on their plate said no, or at least “we”ll find somebody who will do it”. We said: “we’ll do it!”. And we started drafting the idea of Mutual Images journal.

A year later, the project was still untouched. It was only after the 3rd workshop, when Aurore, Maxime and Marco were sitting on the platform bench late at night, in Okamoto Station (Kobe) waiting for their train after two exhausting days of workshop that they found the energy to do it. They were happy, and like all people who are exhausted from work and have experienced a huge success, they were not thinking straight. Aurore said, “we should start that journal”. The men replied: “let’s do it!”.

And slowly (one issue takes a year to publish) but surely, we have been publishing the first issues. Two per year and we are maintaining the rhythm to this day, soon about to publish the 5th issue (autumn 2018) and already working on the 6th one (spring 2019).

How do we work?
Mutual Images only runs with unpaid volunteers. We all have a job and family, in addition to running Mutual Images.

We are scattered all over the world, so everything is done by video-conference, email and phone. And that is how it’s been running since 2013! We have regular meetings with the Mutual Images Board and other volunteers for specific projects. It’s not always easy to organise due to the time difference, but we always manage.

For the past years, we have been filling out funding applications regularly with more or less success. Our internationality and multidisciplinarity makes us fall between the lines. We are never “quite right” because we are not from one country or from one discipline. Frontiers and “walls” still exists, whether politically or academically.

Since the creation of Mutual Images, whenever we were running out of funding, the three co-creators have been personally adding some money into the Mutual Images bank account. This has been going on intermittently for six years. They did so voluntarily because they believe in the project and in the philosophy of Mutual Images.

Now that Mutual Images has demonstrated its strength and wide-reach, we need to secure more funding to continue developing existing and new projects.

Why do we need your help?
Mutual Images Research Association is run entirely by volunteers, we don’t get paid. However, we need money to continue publishing the journal and organising events.

Our main expenses include:
– organisation of the workshop: prints, office furniture, refreshments…
– publication: website, server…
– others: bank and insurance, mail…

We apply for institutional funding (governments, foundations, etc.) however, we don’t always get it and it never covers all the costs.

Every little donation you make will contribute to the promotion of research!
$18.04 of $300 per month
When we reach $300 per month, we will start a podcast series on Japanese popular culture with specialists of the field. 
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