Professor Daniel G. Williams, director of Swansea Univeristy’s Richard Burton Centre for the Study of Wales and member of CREW (Centre for Research into the English Literature and Language of Wales) will be delivering two lectures in Japan this week. The lectures are a part of a series of events entitled The Cultures of Coal’ which are part of a comparative study of coalfield cultures in Wales, Japan and Appalachia

The events are arranged by Ryota Nishi and Shintaro Kono of the Raymond Williams Kenkyukai, Japan and are supported by the JSPS Grant on Scientific Research (17H00913). The focus of papers and discussion will be forms of diversity within the coalfield, looking in particular at ethnicity and disability. Professor Williams is joined by Dr Steven Thompson of Aberystwyth University who has been collaborating with Professors Kirsti Bohata, David Turner and others at Swansea University on the Wellcome Trust-funded ‘Disabilities in the Coalfield’ project.

It is 10 years since Shintaro Kono and Takashi Onuki visited the Richard Burton Archives at Swansea University and took part in a one-day conference. The range of transnational activities since then has been considerable: Two volumes of Collected Essays have appeared in Japanese; Special Issues of the Raymond Williams Kenkyukai journal have been dedicated to symposia held at Swansea, and to a series of lectures delivered by Professor Williams during a tour of Japan in 2014; visiting fellowships have been arranged at the Richard Burton Centre; a special issue of the Raymond Williams Society’s journal Keywords has been dedicated to ‘Raymond Williams in Japan’.

Lecturers standing in front of a coal mine

Associate Professor Shintaro Kono of Chuo University, Tokyo, noted:

“We have the honour of inviting Professor Daniel G. Williams of Swansea University and Dr Steven Thompson of Aberystwyth University to series conferences 'The Cultures of Coal' held on  September 23rd in Nogata, the heart of the Chikuho former coalfield in  Kyushu, and on September 28th in Tokyo. The purpose of the international conferences is to 'diversify' the coalfield; to propose different images of the coalfield by focusing on diverse -- diverse in terms of gender, ethnicity, and (dis)ability -- people who spent their life in the coalfield both in Wales, Appalachia and in Japan.

The conferences have come out of the long standing exchanges between academic communities in Wales and Japan. It is ten years since Professor Takashi Onuki and I visited the Raymond Williams Collection at Swansea University in 2019. Since then five conferences have been held in Wales and Japan on Raymond Williams and other subjects. This current visit is funded by the JSPS Grant on Scientific Research (17H00913).’

Professor Daniel G. Williams said:

‘This collaboration with Japanese scholars has been one of the most enriching experiences of my academic career. My focus will be on developing the comparative approaches to the actual and fictionalized nature of the tension between class solidarity and ethnic conflict in coalfield societies. Tours have been arranged to some of the hidden sites within Kyushu that testify to the experiences of Korean and Chinese miners in Japan.  The Welsh Rugby team are stationed in Kitakyusyu during the Rugby World Cup, a city within the old coalfield of Kyushu and the city is bedecked with posters welcoming and supporting the Welsh team. We will also be based there during our visit, offering an academic element to the connections being fostered in Japan’s sporting stadia’.