Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies, University of California / Santa Barbara

Award Information

Abe Fellowship 2015
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Assistant Professor, East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies, University of California / Santa Barbara
Transnational Ecologies: Indigenous Ecological Practice, Civil Society, and Sustainable Development in India and Japan

Foreign aid provides Japan a key diplomatic resource for introducing Japan-specific models of industrial modernity in developing nations across the globe. The policy design which informs these development schemes, as reflected in ODA policymaking and then interpreted in the field by Japan International Cooperation Agency volunteers, is the central medium through which policymakers convey their vision of what components are necessary to facilitate a successful transition to modernity. During the postwar era, restitution payments to former colonies were compulsory, but more recently development diplomacy has been deployed as a strategy to positively influence international society. Foreign aid has been the Japanese state's key mechanism to contribute to the world population's well being, cultivate allies and broker international respect. At present Japan's foreign aid supports a plethora of development agendas such as enabling energy conservation planning in Oman, combatting gender-related income disparities in Nigeria and improving HIV/AIDS treatment in Tanzania. Yet, as the proposed research investigates, despite its many beneficial outcomes and the advantages of foreign aid to military intervention, for example, foreign aid is a contested policy domain. Japan's development diplomacy has been subject to careful scrutiny by civil society both inside and outside Japan. In India, ODA loans earmarked for constructing a hydroelectric dam were rescinded when civil society investigations revealed that environmental impact studies had been falsified and that some one million indigenous peoples would have faced displacement. Policy objectives of the pending bilateral nuclear agreement with India are likewise admirable, to transmit electricity to 412 million Indians through supporting the nation's burgeoning nuclear energy expansion. Yet, India's position as a possessor of nuclear weapons that has refused to sign the non-proliferation treaty (NPT) and Japan's moral dilemma as a nation still attempting to resolve one of the most catastrophic civilian nuclear accidents in history render this new policy of nuclear diplomacy troubling for civil society. Indeed a transnational India-Japan nuclear agreement would provide a much-needed infusion of capital for the ailing Japanese economy, but Japanese citizens have exhibited ambivalence about how foreign aid is allocated. India's civilian nuclear expansion has likewise generated much debate in civil society about what constitutes just and equitable development policies. This project provides a multi-faceted entrée into how transnational civil society addresses the vexed question of national and local development and engages in broader debates about the proper direction of global aid flows. My research will thus address new patterns of transnational social movements generated in response to post-3.11 foreign aid for nuclear energy development, specifically targeted for developing nuclear economies such as India. Finally, it will tease apart how varying stakeholders attempt to derive benefits from distinct development aid frameworks and how civil society actors inside India, Japan, and those situated transnationally, endeavor to collaborate in their attempts to craft new visions of policy.