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Björn-Ole Kamm
Björn-Ole Kamm

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Born in 1981 into a family of teachers I have always been interested in knowledge, extraordinary things, and the fantastic. So, it was little wonder that I went to Japan for a year as an exchange student in a time, when few in Germany were familiar with Japanese cultural practices or history, when sushi had not yet become an everyday good to be bought in supermarkets. Times and values – social realities – do change, and today, Japan appears less exotic, its manga and anime are household items. Still, “East” and “West” dichotomies remain despite all the transcultural entanglements.

How boundaries and subsequently, realities, are made, sustained, and broken, is a set of questions that stayed with me since my first crossing of naturalized, national borders. My approach to the production and performance of realities is twofold: firstly, as an artist, I construct my own realities through drawings, roleplay and short stories, define what is real in my creation and what is not.
Secondly, as a researcher I want to look at things from different angles. As an insider as well as an outsider – because how realities are made and sustained in the latter’s case must not necessarily be the same for the former, even though both realities are partially connected. In my studies about media use and gender as well as about role-playing games, I often hold both positions, again partially.

After graduating from Leipzig University with a master’s degree in Japanese Studies and Media Studies, I lived and worked for a year in Ichinomiya City close to Nagoya in Aichi prefecture where the 2005 World Expo was held. I was a participant in the JET-Programme as a Coordinator for International Relations (CIR) which gave me the opportunity to improve my presentational skills as well as hold my first own seminars. During that time I began with the preparations for my PhD project.
I was given the opportunity to conduct a first phase of fieldwork for this project as a Phd student at the German Institute for Japanese Studies Tokyo (DIJ) in 2010. I found a similarly international and fruitful environment for my research at the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” at Heidelberg University in 2011. I was also employed as a Coordinator for the Research Area “Knowledge Systems” at the Cluster until November 2012.

From November 2012 to February 2013 I was a research fellow at the at the Global Center of Excellence for “Reconstruction of the Intimate and Public Spheres in 21st Century Asia” of Kyoto University.

From early 2013 to March 2015 I co-cordinated the Graduate Programme for Transcultural Studies at the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” as graduate programme lecturer, where I was responsible for the in-house reading class and colloquium.

In March 2015 I defended my doctoral dissertation (published with Palgrave Macmillan in 2020) and immediately thereafter started researching and teaching at Kyoto University as project-specific senior lecturer at the Graduate School of Letters. This included the preparation of a new Joint Degree Master Program in Transcultural Studies. This new major was established in October 2017 and since December 2017 I took on the mantle as coordinator of this program as a tenured junior associate professor. I continue my studies of cultural processes of organizing difference (long for “transcultural studies”) and am currently the principal investigator of a JSPS funded project looking in the possibilities of live-action role-play (larp) for translating research into an experienceable form.