Visual Culture and Japan: Context, Critique and Analysis

   School of Art and Design

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  Dr Marco Bohr  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

We are pleased to announce a new PhD opportunity that specifically focuses on the analysis of visual culture in, from or in relation to Japan. In particular, we wish to support projects that consider the political dimension of images in relation to, amongst others, identity, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, history, memory, trauma, ideology, geopolitics, and ecology. Contemporary Japanese visual culture provides a particularly rich opportunity for further research due to the country’s vibrant history in ground-breaking cinema, photography, fashion, advertising, graphic design, manga, anime and contemporary art. For this PhD opportunity, we are also open to proposals that push disciplinary boundaries, such as case studies that explore visual culture online, community-based art projects, new media, experimental artworks or other more marginal forms of visual expression. Further to this, we are open to projects that investigate transcultural phenomena, such as the reception of visual culture from Japan abroad or the powerful legacy such images have on perceptions on Japan in the global imagination.

Prospective applicants should be aware that the analysis of images, in relation to their political context(s), will constitute a key aspect of the research. Bearing the centrality of the image in mind, the topic of investigation and the focus of the PhD is primarily driven by the applicant as explored in the PhD proposal. Due to the nature of the research, we are particularly open to proposals with interdisciplinary methodologies relating to a number of academic disciplines including visual culture, visual studies, design history, art history, critical theory, cultural studies, film theory, photography theory, anime and manga studies, East Asian Studies, Japanese Studies or visual anthropology amongst others. In line with our supervisory capacity, the focus of the research should be on contemporary cases of visual culture, however research should display a firm understanding of previous historic periods.

The successful applicant would join one of the country’s leading art and design schools which has been influencing, inspiring and innovating for over 175 years. The school has a vibrant, forward-looking and expanding research community where collaboration and interdisciplinarity are embraced and encouraged. PhD candidates would have access to a number of highly relevant research groups mainly, though not exclusively, based within the Artistic Research Group and the Design Research Centre. The supervision team for this PhD opportunity will include Dr. Marco Bohr, Associate Professor in Design and Digital Arts and Dr. Hui-Ying Kerr, Senior Lecturer in Fashion Communication and Promotion.

Anyone interested in applying for this PhD opportunity is welcome to send draft proposals of circa 1,500 words (excluding bibliography) directly to Dr. Marco Bohr for feedback and guidance. Under clear headings or subheadings, the proposal needs to contain the following information: the proposed title of the project, the research area, the research question(s) to be investigated including an explanation of why the proposed research area is likely to lead to high quality research outcomes, why the research area has been chosen, the methodology, the research context including references to other work in the field, the purpose and originality of the research as well as a full bibliography. Further information about Research Degrees at NTU can be found here:

This opportunity is for self-funded PhD students. However, where appropriate and depending on the strength of the proposal and academic background of applicants, the supervisory team can provide guidance and support for candidates wishing to apply for internal or external PhD studentships.

Anthropology (2) Communication & Media Studies (7) Creative Arts & Design (9) Philosophy (28) Sociology (32)


Bohr, M. (ed.) 2023. Capture Japan: Visual Culture and the Global Imagination from 1952 to the Present. London: Bloomsbury Academic.
Bohr, M. 2019. “No Man’s Zone: The Essay Film in the Aftermath of the Tsunami in Japan”. Hollweg, Brenda and Krstić, Igor (eds), World Cinema and the Essay Film: Transnational Perspectives on a Global Practice. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Kerr, H. 2022. “Sweet Treats and Foreign Foods: Hanako Magazine and the Internationalised Women of the Japanese Bubble Economy”. Lee, Yunah and Rajguru, Megha (eds.), Design and Modernity in Asia: National and Transnational Exchange 1945-1990, London: Bloomsbury Academic.

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 About the Project