By: Muziah Kargbo
We had the opportunity to interview Professor Bardsley, who is currently in Japan, about her work and activities during her stay in the country. She currently holds a research position at the International Gender Studies Institute at Ochanomizu University in Tokyo. There she teaches seminars and plans international seminars including one where Dr. Nadia Yaqub and a colleague, Dr. Diya Abdo, presented their new book, Bad Girls of the Arab World. As for teaching, Professor Bardsley works mainly with graduate students teaching her own courses named “Chasing Madame Butterfly, the Gender of Japonisme” this semester and in spring, “Dior in Japan: Political Economy, Fashion, and Diplomacy,” a course dealing with issues stemming from a fashion show the Parisian brand did in 1953 Japan.
Besides teaching, Professor Bardsley continues her research with fashion as a women’s site of transnational interaction in the late 1940s and 1950s. She describes part of the research by saying, “Fashion came to mean more than clothing the body, and was associated with issues of class, national identity, gender, and economic recovery.” It also explores the modernity and peace fashion brought to post-war Japan.
In between research and teaching, Professor Bardsley enjoys going out to Japanese-Italian cafes with her husband and even helps the owners make menus in English to attract travelers who’ll come to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. She has also been inspired by Japanese Dixieland jazz bands she saw performing on the street and hopes to incorporate performances like that in her “Japanese Theater” course here at UNC.