I am a sociologist and social theorist interested in the long-term and inter-generational impacts of mass violence on affected communities.
I joined Queen’s University Belfast as a Lecturer in Sociology at the School of Social Science, Education in September 2021.
I am currently the Editor of Cultural Sociology, and the Review Editor for the International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society. I hold a PhD in Sociology (2017) from the University of Cambridge. Previously, I was a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge (2017-21) and a Research Fellow in Sociology at Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge (2018-21).
My current project investigates how ‘historical revisionism’ – claims that deny or underplay Japanese wartime atrocities – has become a dominant strand of Japanese right-wing nationalism since the mid-1990s. Synthesising perspectives from political sociology, cultural sociology, and memory studies, this project seeks to explain why and how Japanese nationalists disseminate academically discredited historical claims in public discourse. Using social network analysis, I have constructed an original database that maps out the organisational ties between right-wing public intellectuals, religious organisations, political parties, and activist groups inside and outside Japan.
My forthcoming first academic monograph is titled Remembering Religious Terrorism: the Aum Affair in Japanese Collective Memory. The Aum Affair was a series of crimes committed by new religious movement Aum Shinrikyō (abbreviated as ‘Aum’) between 1988 and 1995, which culminated in the gassing of the Tokyo subway using sarin in March 1995. This book reconstructs the long-term impacts of Aum’s religious terrorism on contemporary Japanese culture. It traces the struggles between actors over the representation and commemoration of the Aum Affair from 1994 – the year of Aum’s first terrorist attack – to the present. Using original data gathered from interviews, participant observation, and media reports, this book examines how the meanings of the Aum Affair have been fiercely contested by various stakeholders, including the state, mass media, public intellectuals, victims, and former members. The Aum Affair sparked debates over questions of the validity of “brainwashing”, individual responsibility of culprits, and the validity of the death penalty, many of which continue today. Arguing that commemoration of violence can divide society as much as it can heal, this book demonstrates that whilst confronting horrific acts of violence require moral condemnation, the entrenchment of categories of “good vs. evil” and “victims vs. perpetrators” can hinder reconciliation.
Most recently, I have become interested in the role of diasporas in shaping collective memories of/about their ‘home’ nations. Between 2020 and 2021, I was a co-organiser for a series of interdisciplinary conferences titled ‘Memories in Transit: Transnational memory and identity across modern regimes of displacement and dispersion‘, held with the Centre for the Study of Global Human Movement, University of Cambridge. These conferences explored memory practices that traverse and transcend national boundaries, including transnational and transgenerational identities of diasporas, exiles, detainees, and refugees.
My publications have appeared in The British Journal of Sociology, Theory and Society, Journal of Classical Sociology, American Journal of Cultural Sociology, and International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society.