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Thomas Lamarre

April 2, 2011

Thomas Lamarre is Professor of East Asian Studies and Art History & Communications Studies at McGill University.  He earned a doctorate in Oceanology from l’Université d’Aix-Marseilles in 1985 and earned a second doctorate in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago in 1992. He began teaching at McGill University in 1992. You can check out some of his course outlines by clicking here. Listeners to today’s podcast will quickly appreciate the ways in which Prof. Lamarre does not patronize students or dumb down complex and important material, and at the same time he truly communicates with and inspires.

He has served on a number of editorial boards and is the author of many articles, translations, and reviews. He has also edited and co-edited books and journals, including several issues of Mechademia and a special issue of the journal positions, in which you can find his influential essay “Born of Trauma: Akira and Capitalist Modes of Destruction,” the same essay discussed at the beginning of today’s interview.

In 2002, Prof. Lamarre was awarded the John Whitney Hall Book Award for Uncovering Heian Japan (Duke University Press, 2000), a study which, among other feats,  breaks down the national imagination.  In his book Shadows on the Screen (University of Michigan, 2005), Prof. Lamarre translates and analyzes Tanizaki’s writings on film, including essays, fiction, and screenplays.  Prof. Lamarre has created this online study guide for his latest book, The Anime Machine: a Media Theory of Animation (University of Minnesota Press, 2009).  The Anime Machine speaks to how we understand ourselves in relation to the world, as well as to how to read an animetic art form that for many of us seems to encompass our age.  Whether through analyses of calligraphy, kana, newspapers, cinema, or anime, Prof. Lamarre challenges us to work through and out of the national imagination.

We are grateful that Prof. Lamarre agreed to be interviewed for the first podcast we’ve produced since the earthquakes, tsunami, and radiation disasters in Japan and since our classes gave way to teach-ins.   In today’s interview, he speaks about how capitalism “finds its home in disaster,” as well as cautions us of the perils (and “sucking force”) of centralized state formations.  Prof. Lamarre is interviewed by Bridget Gagné, an undergraduate student at McGill University majoring in Biochemistry with a minor concentration in East Asian Studies.

The interview is 62 minutes long and is available for download here. To stream the audio, please click on the arrow below.″
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