Professor Nancy Stalker, Fulbright Scholar, researches ikebana in Tokyo

Wed, January 30, 2008

Dr. Stalker is currently involved in a historical project investigating twentieth-century developments in the world of ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arrangement. She is currently affiliated with Sophia University in Tokyo.

Ikebana is a major factor in Japan's international reputation for a refined, nature-based aesthetic. Japan is one of the world's largest producers and consumers of flowers and there are more than 3000 registered schools of ikebana, making it one of Japan's largest cultural industries, yet studies in English have not yet historically and critically examined the relationships between ikebana and national and international identity.

Despite ikebana's long history, it was not practiced on a mass level until the 20th century and especially after World War II, when the three largest schools (Ikenobo, Sogetsu and Ohara) each boasted over a million students, and a dozen other major schools had hundreds of thousands. Professor Stalker's current research investigates how and why ikebana became a mass phenomenon in the postwar period, examining the popularity of new, avante-garde styles, rivalry among the largest schools and international interest in ikebana.

Professor Stalker's book, Prophet Motive: Deguchi Onisaburo, Oomoto, and the Rise of New Religions in Imperial Japan, was published by the University of Hawaii Press in December 2007.

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