Shunsuke Nozawa




Associate Professor

Research Keywords

Ethnography of communication, semiotics of culture, politics of language, popular culture, popular history, voice, contact, linguistic anthropology


Ph.D in Anthropology, University of Chicago
MA in Anthropology, University of Chicago
BA in Anthropology and Linguistics, New York University


As a linguistic anthropologist and cultural semiotician, I am broadly interested in the meaning of communication and sociality: how ideas and assumptions about language, media, interaction, voice, and so forth, shape everyday habits, institutional practices, and political processes. Currently, I am building a project, tentatively titled “On Social Contact,” which examines metacommunicative struggles over how to define, control, and discipline (im)proper human contact, as these struggles unfold in diverse moments of our contemporary social life, ranging from harassment to social distancing, from solo karaoke to solitary death. In another line of research I hope to continue with my ethnographic work on voice and the labor of characterization in contemporary Japanese popular culture.

I teach classes on diverse topics, ranging from popular culture to politics of language, from anthropology of Japan to academic writing and methods. My classes are mostly discussion-based, and I am looking forward to working with students to create meaningful leaning experience together.

Classes Taught on MJSP

Japanese Popular Culture; Introduction to Japanese Studies II (Culture); Diversity in Language; Marginal Texts; Academic Writing in Japanese.

Selected Publications

Edited Volumes:

  • 2020. (Co-edited with Jason G. Karlin and Patrick W. Galbraith) Japanese Media and Popular Culture. An Open-Access Digital Initiative of the University of Tokyo.

Journal Articles:

  • In preparation.  “The concentration booth and the handshaking lane: language ideology of the phatic.” A special issue on “Language Ideologies in Japan,” International Journal of the Sociology of Language.
  • In preparation. (Co-authored with Gretchen Pfeil) “Effacement-Work.” Semiotic Review.
  • 2017. (難波阿丹, 難波純也, 仁井田千絵, 近藤和都との共著) 「情動の出来事性――インターフェイス, ライブ性, 交感」『情報学研究調査研究編』東京大学大学院情報学環33: 1-30
  • 2016. “Life encapsulated: addressivity in Japanese life writing.” Language and Communication 46:95-105
  • 2016. (Co-authored with Christopher Ball) “Tearful Sojourns and Tribal Wives: primitivism, kinship, suffering, and salvation on Japanese and British reality television.” American Ethnologist 43(2): 243-257
  • 2015. “Phatic traces: sociality in contemporary Japan.” Anthropological Quarterly 88(2): 373-400
  • 2014. “Phaticity: contact and its allure.” Section News (Society for Linguistic Anthropology), Anthropology News 55(11): n.pag.
  • 2013. “Characterization.” Semiotic Review. n.pag.
  • 2012. “The gross face and virtual fame: semiotic mediation in Japanese virtual communication.” First Monday 17(3) n.pag.
  • 2007. “The meaning of life: regimes of textuality and memory in Japanese personal historiography.” Language and Communication 27(2): 153-177

Book Chapters:

Book Reviews:

  • 2021. Making Meaningful Lives: Tales from an Aging Japan, by Iza Kavedžija. Ageing and Society 41(2): 708-709.
  • 2020. Tokyo Boogie-Woogie: Japan’s Pop Era and Its Discontents, by Hiromu Nagahara. Monumenta Nipponica 75(1): 176-179.
  • 2016. Aging and Loss: Mourning and Maturity in Contemporary Japan, by Jason Danely. Anthropological Quarterly 89(1): 297-302.
  • 2007. Vicarious Language: Gender and Linguistic Modernity in Japan, by Miyako Inoue. Anthropological Quarterly 80(1): 295-299.