After interviewing one of our newest faculty members, Dr. Yurika Tamura, I came away with so much exciting information about her, and now you can too!
Q: Can you tell us about yourself and your areas of study?
I came to UNC from New York University, where I taught art, media, and performance studies as well as East Asian Studies as a clinical assistant professor at the School of Liberal Studies. I received my PhD in Women’s and Gender Studies from Rutgers University, and my interests are Indigeneity, colonial racism, sound and performance art, and queer theory. I study transnational coalitions of Indigenous and minority musicians and artists and how they use bodies, sound, and sensation to imagine an alternative world, especially in post-Fukushima Japan and beyond.
I was born and raised in Sapporo, Hokkaido, and moved to the US when I was a teenager. Being a descendant of the Ainu people and Zainichi Korean, I was always interested in the issues pertaining to the minority populations in Japan. As a diasporic Asian, I am also invested in Asian American studies, race and nationalism, and immigration and diaspora.
Sound and sensation are the most fascinating scholarly topics to me. What does racism or empathy sound like? And how can Indigenous artists like Ainu musicians use sound and sensation for their activism? My forthcoming book, Vibration of Others: Resonation and Corporeal Ethics of Transnational Indigenous Soundscapes (Wesleyan University Press, 2024) addresses these questions.
Q: What made you choose UNC and DAMES as the next step on your teaching and academic journey?
I did not know what to expect when I visited the UNC campus at first. But as soon as I arrived, I fell in love with UNC and DAMES. I saw that the DAMES faculty are a group of highly acclaimed and productive scholars and leaders in the fields. Visiting DAMES made me feel encouraged and empowered about my interdisciplinary research (on Indigeneity in Japan, sound and sensation, corpo-materialism), which may be seen as minor and difficult to categorize by some people. I learned about the Carolina Asia Center and the Dean’s Working Group on Global Indigeneity and American Indian Studies, and got very excited about the future possibilities for research and collaboration.
At my teaching demo, I met the UNC students whose energy and intellectual curiosity made the class so exciting. I saw that UNC kept such a strong sense of community, and I wanted to be a Tarheel right away.
At UNC, I am excited to teach many topics in Japanese and Asian studies, bringing in my transdisciplinary perspective. I am honored that my first monograph, is coming out as my publication at UNC DAMES.
Q: Do you have any hobbies or special interests?
I have always participated in performance arts communities in different universities and cities since I was a graduate student. At Tucson, while I was at the University of Arizona, I assisted productions of the Borderlands Theatre, and as a doctoral student at New York University, I took as many courses as I could with the Department of Performance Studies and EmergeNYC, an organization that fosters BIPOC, migrant, and LGBTQ performance artists, and learned the methodologies of the Theatre of the Oppressed. I continue to be part of Asian American performance art community in New York City, and my most exciting hobby is taking classes at the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater.
My other passion is creative writing. During the pandemic, I participated in the online workshop taught by my favorite author, Sabrina Orah Mark. My classmates and I bonded so strongly that we remain very close and visit one another often, and continue to encourage each other’s writing process. The group is called the “Cloud-Makers/Fortune Cookie Writers” and has been a joy of my life.
Q: What about being in the Triangle area excites or interests you the most?
I am most excited to explore the libraries, museums, theaters, research centers and lecture events, dance classes and performance events, all the venues for research and art. But also, I love coffeeshops and bookstores. On some weekends, you may spot me in one of the many wonderful independent bookstores or coffeeshops in the Triangle area.
Keep an eye on local cafes, Heels, and grab a latte with Dr. Tamura!
Dr. Yurika Tamura