In Lieu of Greetings: The Past, Present, and Future of CGS

Etsuko KATO
Director, Center for Gender Studies
Senior Associate Professor, International Christian University

【The article below is the same as the article that appears in the twelfth issue of the CGS Newsletter.】

From April 2009, I have had the honor of serving as CGS Director, following in the footsteps of Kazuko Tanaka(2004-2007) and Natsumi Ikoma (2008). It has "only", and at the same time, "already" been 6 years since the establishment of our center. I feel that we are now entering upon a second stage in our history.

The first stage was a period of intense activity when we established our organizational framework and initiated various activities and programs. We set up the Program for Gender and Sexuality Studies (PGSS), began the publication of our newsletters and journal, hosted reading clubs and tea parties, provided a communication space and library, and organized lectures. From 2004 to 2007, we hosted an international workshop series that debated the theme "Gender in Asia" from the differing perspectives of the Social Sciences, Humanities, and the Natural Sciences respectively, as part of the university's COE project.
These activities highlighted the unique features of CGS, such as 1) Incorporating perspectives of sexuality into Gender Studies (which has tended to be preoccupied with women's studies) to further criticize the male/ female dichotomy; 2) Relativizing the gender theories of Europe and the United States from the perspective of "Asia"; (3) Valuing bilingualism (Japanese and English) to disseminate information from Japan to the rest of the world; and (4) Encouraging student staff members to take initiative and fully exercise their skills. This final feature in particular was what enabled us to achieve so much in such a short time.
2008 was a year of crisis for CGS. Retirement, reserach leave and maternity leave all overlapped, leaving us with few active members. Nevertheless, we managed to continue our activities thanks to the tremendous efforts of our student staff. CGS even received television coverage of its meeting in the summer with a British youth association for sexual minorities. At the same time, weak points in our organizational framework originating from past habits were revealed, and our academic staff were prompted to reflect seriously on the immense strain that was put on the student staff.
We have learned much from these experiences, and this year we have welcomed various new staff members and reorganized the division of labor. In the days ahead, we plan to build a mutual aid network between gender educators from universities located within the Tama area, to serve as a bridge between gender studies in Japan and the rest of the world (especially Asia), to reinforce our role as a research institute by cooperating with researchers from diverse disciplines, and to support ICU students by ensuring that the diversity of gender and sexuality is considered within the university. CGS is still regaining its strength, but we are resolved to apply what we have learned from our past experiences and steadily advance in a new direction. We look forward to your continued support in the years to come.