About IAA

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The Institute for Art Anthropology, Tama Art University, offers a program that approaches the study of art as practiced throughout human history, taking innovative approaches that propose rereadings of tradition. The study of the nature and role of human creativity in the broader cultural sense has traditionally been left to the fields of archaeology and cultural anthropology. These two disciplines are applied here to create a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach to art.

Art anthropology views human expression /representation/ throughout time as an act of unlimited relationality, generating multiple connections – between humankind and nature, person and object, and of course between people. We aim at an understanding of art and culture that is both organic and non-dualistic. In order to do so we fuse the disciplines of art & design, the humanities, and science in an exploration of both Japanese and world folklore and culture, and how these have developed from prehistoric times to the present. We believe that through the unearthing of the creative expressions accumulated by humanity, formed of heart, mind and technique, we can contribute to the regeneration of that fundamental life force in the context of the 21st century.

IAA Activities

There are six departments at IAA. Each has its own research division and makes efforts to be involved not only with the larger university community, but with the local and international communities as well. The following three types of exchange programs provide ways of keeping in touch with the larger world.
1. Interdepartmental and inter-university exchange
Exchange programs with other departments of Tama Art University, the university museum and library including seminars and other activities. Activities which attract current students and alumni, as well as prospective students. Exchange programs oriented toward elementary schools.
Cooperative programs are also promoted with other local area universities and research institutes, as well as museums, libraries, private museums, and artists’ studios.
2. Regional exchange
The research center also promotes exchanges both within its local district and around the country with communities, schools and private companies. These include the sharing of space used for programs as well as knowledge sharing.
3. International exchange
Cooperative research and exhibition projects are promoted with overseas universities, museums, research institutions, and private corporations.
These programs are publicized over various types of media.

Director’s Message

Director, Institute for Art Anthropology (IAA), Tama Art University, Tokyo, Japan

The Institute for Art Anthropology (IAA), established in 2006 at the Hachioji Campus of Tama Art University on Yarimizu Hill in Hachioji City in the western suburbs of Tokyo, as the first academic institution of its kind and an unique research center in Japan.

Art Anthropology is a new discipline, different from the ethnological art research of Cultural and Social Anthropology established in the 1920s in Europe and the United States. Art Anthropology is the study of art, which traces the path of human artistic activity in all its fullness, as well as the thoughts expressed in art over a period of tens of thousands of years, from prehistoric times to the present, and on into the future. The way of research illuminates the primal source of art practiced by human beings at the same time.

Our first book, Lectures in Art Anthropology (Chikuma Shinsho, 2020) was published in March 2020, right at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. This unexpected world crisis reminds us of how much human beings have been “cured” by art works, sometimes more than modern science and technology, helping them to overcome difficult times through their long history. As expressed in the preface of this book, we started to illuminate the rethinking of the meaning of “art and humanity” not only as Human beings, but as “Humans of Art” living through the long span of art history covered in the book. The expression of art and Art Thinking leads everybody as mortal beings to freedom from physical destiny to reach a new association between humans and all living things, without inequality or class division. Art works allow us to seek the way of eternal symbiosis ad mutualism for all beings on the earth. It must be said that the time has come for a new discovery of art after the long trail over the centuries created by the human philosophy of life, death, and revival since the prehistoric stage.

Human being can no longer be concerned with “self” alone, but must also care for all living things. A rich variety of approaches in art, design, archeology, history, religion, philosophy, language, and criticism should allow to delve into the thought and discipline of human art. Annual research results of the institute are published in the bulletin Art Anthropology, and symposium of “Land and Power”, special exhibitions, and workshops are opened to students and the general public with reservations (required).

Our goal is to promote research in the new discipline of Art Anthropology and to carry on rich associations and collaborations with various domestic and foreign organizations. We ask, with gratitude, for your continued support and guidance in the activities of the Institute for Art Anthropology and Tama Art University.