Kevin Carr, assistant professor of art history, was invited by the Tokyo chapter of the Michigan Alumni Association to give a talk last December. About twenty people attended, almost all U-M alumni of various ages and professions.The talk was titled “When Did Japan Become ‘Japan’?” and explored constructions of national identity primarily through analysis of maps over time.

"Although I did not think they would find my research compelling," Carr explained in an email from Japan, "I got a good response and enjoyed meeting some former U-M students."

Carr has spent the past academic year based in Tokyo, Japan.  He has been doing research for his next book project, Ecologies of Identity: Sacred Landscapes on the Margins of Medieval Japan.  His work has taken him all over Japan, from Kyûshû in the south to Nagano in the Japanese alps.  In addition to the talk in December, he was a discussant and presenter at a conference in Norwich, England titled, “Narratives in Visual Culture: Beliefs, Rituals, Stories, and Art.” His talk, “Empress Jingu in Medieval Kyûshû : Fragmentation of Central Authority and the Politics of Sacred Space in Pictorial Narrative,” is an outcome of the working paper seminar he presented at the U-M Center for Japanese Studies in April 2009.  This June, he will offer a special series of lectures on his new book, Plotting the Prince, at Yamagata University, and will present his most recent work at conferences throughout Japan.  Carr returns to regular teaching in fall 2011.