The National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) is a research center for ethnology and cultural anthropology.

The Anthropology of Care and Education for Life

Research period: April 2011-March 2014 / Core project: Anthropological Studies of Inclusion and Autonomy Coordinator SUZUKI Nanami

Reserch Theme List

Research Objectives

In societies with aging populations and in which cultures and values are becoming increasingly diverse, where can people find common ground, the shared time and space required to transmit culture? This research explores the elements required for living together by drawing attention to the answers that diverse cultures have worked out to deal with such issues. Through joint research that cuts across academic boundaries, it draws attention to beliefs and practices surrounding the development of a caring and nurturing education for life. The approach taken will be from a perspective in which care, thought of as concern for oneself, is deeply implicated with shared times and places in which culture is transmitted. Through this research, we hope to identify situations that set in motion coexistence and cooperation, and develop concrete directions toward a future in which people from diverse cultures can live and work together.

Distinctive Features

This research draws attention to the processes by which shared times and spaces are constructed, in the process of experiencing life-course events (such as birth, aging, sickness, death) and suffering in multicultural societies in which individuals each seek their own well being. It focuses on those processes through caring, as concern for others and oneself, and through a nurturing education for life that is not limited to “educating” the next generation, but includes provision for ceaseless change and the preparation of the environments in which caring and education for life can take place.

Themes and Activities
  1. Exploration of a caring and nurturing education for life as a central component in the life course is a major theme of the project. This focus is not limited to caring in the sense of support provided to the weaker members of society. It includes all domains of life in which healing or problem-solving addresses the difficulties of human existence. In an effort to identify the objectives and significance of nurture and healing, it adopts a cross-disciplinary perspective, to deepen understanding of data produced by the cultural anthropological study of transformations of the body and personal appearance, of rites of passage, and of community. It sees a nurturing education for life as a process that continues throughout the life course of people in every age group, not as a phenomenon confined to the practice of education, organized, since the modern area, for young people alone in terms of rearing the constituent members of the next generation of society.
  2. The project aims to develop proposals for spaces and events that can make possible a caring and nurturing education for life throughout the life course. Many fears have been voiced about the current state of society, which is blamed on increasing individualism. In this project, however, conducted through detailed fieldwork and analysis of secondary materials, the individual's need for his or her own well-being is the starting point for thinking about a society in which people live together mutually beneficially. By analyzing diversity and historical transformations in both thinking about well-being and caring and the actual spaces in which education for life is carried out, we will develop specific information on the sharing and transmission of nurturing spaces.

See: “World Watching from U.S.A.: ‘Healthy Aging.’”[in Japanease]