I am a scholar of environmental humanities with a background in semiotics, anthropology, environmental history and geography and trained at the University of Kyoto (Japan) and University of Tartu (Estonia). I hold a docent degree in the history of science, technology and environment, with specialization environmental humanities and uses of history from KTH from 2021.
In my work I have been interested in the interplay of personal and public in the environmental perception, more precisely on how individual experiences and cultural stereotypes influence the delineation and management of natural and cultural heritage sites (meant to be a scientific practice), and vice versa: how do individuals redefine their personal first hand experiences of landscapes according to cultural prestige and stereotypes held by larger influential groups. How is the sites' value defined and what is considered worthy of protection? I have examined the mechanisms of meaning generation and identity building with the help of landscapes on individual, community and national level, analysing phenomena such as landscape protection, everyday practices, seasonality, literary representations of the environment, environmental communication and history writing, employing oral history, field work, literary texts and archival sources. Most of my work has been so far carried out in Japan and Estonia. In recent years, I have been increasingly working on Antarctic environmental history and heritage, seen through the lens of Japan and Latin-American countries.
At KTH, I am currently involved in several research projects concerning Antarctica. First,"On creating cultural heritage in Antarctica" (Project leader: Lize-Marié van der Watt) deals with the processes through which cultural heritage production is used to create collective memories of Antarctica and how cultural heritage can be reconciled with a governance system that limits the accumulation of material legacies of human presence. Second, Peder Robert's ERC grant"Greening the Poles: Science, the Environment, and the Creation of the Modern Arctic and Antarctic" (GRETPOL), aims at understanding the development of environmental science and politics in the polar regions during the period 1945-1991, in transnational historical perspective. Both of these projects aim at a comprehensive international comparison, in which I am responsible for the Japanese, Chilean and Russian/ Soviet case studies. In January and February 2020 I participated in Argentinian-Swedish joint expedition CHAQ2020 to the Antarctic Historic Sites and Monuments left on the Antarctic pensinsula by the Nordenskjöld expedition in 1901-1903 for documenting and maintenance work at the sites. The expedition blogg can be found HERE. From 2022 I will be starting work with Lize-Marié vand der Watt's new project, Decay Without Mourning: Future-thinking Heritage Practices that will in a nice way synthesise my work with Antarctic and Japanese heritage practices.
From 2018, I am running a Formas-financed project Sustainable communities and heritage politics beyond nature-culture divide: Heritage development as a strategy against depopulation in Japan. The aim is to analyse the use of heritage development as a possible strategy against depopulation, by comparing how different types of heritage relate to the local communities. The project grows out of my earlier affilaition as a Visiting Associate Professor at the Mt. Fuji Centre for Mountain Research at the Shizuoka Prefectural Government, Japan, with a research projectWorld Heritage and local communities (2015-2017) in which I have been studying World Heritage nominations in Japan and the intricate relations between global prestige, expert knowledge and local use, as well as the concepts of nature and culture in the nomination and management of several World heritage sites, mostly "Fujisan, sacred place and source of artistic inspiration", but also "Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining" - a series of industrial heritage sites on Kyushu island and Yamaguchi Prefecture. The new Formas project expands the list of studied heritage sites further, including also Jōmon Archaeological Sites in Hokkaidō and Northern Tōhoku, Shiretoko National Park, Historic Villages of Shirakawa-gō in Gifu and Gokayama and Tomioka Silk Mill and related sites, as well as Aso-Kyūshū area that is currently designated as Aso-kujū national park, UNESCO Geopark and FAO Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System.
Equally from 2018, I am working together with Per Högselius and Anna Storm at the Formas financed Cold War Coasts: The Transnational Co-Production of Militarized Landscapesthat explores from a transnational perspective the pervasive role of the military in shaping the Baltic Sea’s coastal landscapes since 1945 – and the practical challenges that the legacies from the Cold War period give rise to today. In addition, from 2018 to 2023 I am collaborating with Per Högselius' ERC grant NUCLEARWATERS: Putting Water a the Centre of Nuclear Energy History where I work on the Japanese nuclear industry's relation to water and a case study on conflicting resource interests in Soviet Estonia during the early stages of nuclear power plant planning in the Soviet Union.
I am a member of the Polar Research Committee of the Estonian Academy of Sciences, of the Standing Committee on Humanities and Social Sciences of the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research (SCAR) and an expert member in the ICOMOS International Polar Heritage Committee. Since 2017, I am a regional representative for the Baltic Countries of the European Society of Environmental History (ESEH). I am also a founding amember for the Estonian Centre for Environmental History since 2011 and the coordinator of the emerging Baltic Environmental Humanities and Social Sciences Network. I am an active member of Estonian ICOMOS.
I am responsible lecturer for the coursesAK1202 History of Science and Technology, and give classes in AK2207 andAK2209 Energy Systems in the Society in the first and second cycle, as well as several third cycle courses, such as Introduction to the Research Process,Theory and Method, as well as Perspectives on Science, Technology and Landscape in Time and Space.