Unit 3

Foreign Dispatch Report

KATO Hiroshi

Date: March 17 to 30, 1998

Location: Egypt

Posted on May 15, 1998


  1. Meeting with staff of the American University in Cairo concerning cooperative research
  2. Meeting in order to create a cooperative research network with other research organizations in Egypt.
  3. Collect information related to the Unit 3 cooperative research theme for 1998.

  1. Currently, Hitotsubashi University staff members are conducting scholarly exchanges with the staff of the American University in Cairo, Dhaka University in Bangladesh, and East China University of Science and Technology in China. The theme is "Development and Culture in Asia: Comparative Study on Grassroots Solidarity among People in Asian Countries". The main point of this exchange plan is to move beyond one-time international workshops and symposiums which end after one meeting and establish a relationship wherein the same core members work together for several years on the same theme with a different university sponsoring the research each year. Hitostubashi University was the sponsoring school for the first year (1997) and an international workshop was held in June. In addition to Hitostubashi University staff members, 3 staff members each from the American University in Cairo and East China University of Science and Technology in China and 2 staff members from Dhaka University in Bangladesh participated and there was much lively discussion. The American University in Cairo is the sponsoring school for the second year (1998) and an international workshop on the above theme is planned in early November and researchers from Japan, Bangladesh and China are also expected to participate. East Asia University of Science and Technology in China will be the sponsoring school for the third year (1999) and a similar international workshop is planned to be held in Shanghai that year. In addition, under the auspices of this scholarly exchange plan, last year Unit 3 of the Islamic Area Studies Project offered financial assistance by way of an invitation to Assistant Professor Asef Bayat of the American University in Cairo, to the international workshop sponsored by Hitotsubashi University. One of the purposes of my foreign dispatch to Egypt was to discuss whether it is possible to deepen this cooperative relationship and develop the above scholarly exchanges as part of the cooperative research with Unit 3. It is also hoped that we can form a cooperative relationship with Japanese research organizations and researchers other than Hitotsubashi University to offer both financial and technical support for this year's international workshop to be held at the American University in Cairo. As a result of these discussions, we agreed that we should increase our cooperation as much as possible. In order to accomplish this, it was first agreed that I should attempt to gather more support in Japan as soon as I returned.
  2. Unit 3 has formulated a plan to support cooperative research between young Japanese researchers and researchers in Islamic areas. At ICANAS (International Conference of Asian and North African Studies) which will be held in Montreal, Canada in October of 2000, Unit 3 is planning to use one session to introduce the Islamic Area Studies which are being conducted in the Far East (Japan, Korea and China). One of the purposes of my visit to Egypt was to explore the possibilities for deepening the cooperative reserch done with researchers in the area. I visited CEDEJ, a French research organization which is currently one of the most active research organizations in Cairo because it was judged that it will become necessary to conduct exchanges with them in the future.
  3. Last year, Unit 3 held a research seminar on Muslim identity and the 3 keywords Women, Mass Media and Education were decided upon as themes for cooperative research in order to clarify the various aspects of Muslim identity. The materials to be gathered for this purpose include not only books, newspapers, and magazines, but a special effort is being made to collect CD-ROMs and other electronic media, video tapes and graphic images such as photographs. One of the purposes of my visit to Egypt was to collect information which will make it easier to gather such graphic images in the future. Of the information that I was able to collect, the most impressive was that the American University in Cairo has started an ambitious effort to use the graphic images it has in its collection to introduce Egyptian films and photographs, most of which have never been the subject of research. These works include M. Darwish's Dream Makers on the Nile. A Portrait of Egyptian Cinema (1998), and P. Gazio's Van Leo. Photographer, Cairo. Protraits of Glamour (1997). The world portrayed in these books is one thatstands in stark contrast to that of so-called Islamic fundamentalism.