Dr. Nora Kottmann

© DWIH Tokyo / Dr. Nora Kottmann

Our series “Connecting East and West – A Short Interview with …“ presents people involved in German-Japanese research collaborations – and their insights on how and where to cooperate successfully!

This week we welcome Dr. Nora Kottmann, Principal Researcher at the German Institute of Japanese Studies (DIJ) and head of the research group “Methods and Methodologies”. Dr. Kottmann’s research mainly focuses on issues related to mobility, space, (not) belonging, intimacy and methods in social science research.

1. What kind of research makes you excited, and why?

On the one hand I am excited by research that makes a concrete and direct contribution to solving problems – for example, regarding environmental protection or in the field of medicine. On the other hand, I am excited by research that stimulates thought, reveals new perspectives and raises new questions.

2. What is your connection to Japan?

My connection to Japan – or more precisely, to Tokyo – is relatively long. The first time I was here as a high school student rather by coincidence. Since then, I have lived here for several years as a university student, intern, scholarship holder and researcher.

3. Where should Japan and Germany cooperate more?

Japan and Germany already cooperate very successfully on many levels – including in the field of science. Countless excellent exchange and fellowship programs promote individual and social exchange and lead to successful research collaborations. My career would also not have been possible without these opportunities. Unfortunately, this exchange is extremely limited right now. I think it is essential to initiate and further promote it again.

4. What is your winning formula for research cooperation?

In my opinion, there is no single winning formula, but there are many important factors that contribute to a successful cooperation: openness and reliability. Fascination and stamina (on the part of everyone involved). (Extremely) good time planning. Fun. Sufficient financial resources. Job security. Pragmatism. Enthusiasm (most of the time) and a common, clearly defined goal.

5. What advice do you have for Japanese researchers looking for joint projects?

Personally, I really enjoy taking part in events that are as diverse as possible and using the low threshold these events provide to come into contact with people from other contexts. This not only helps to get to know possible cooperation partners, but also to exchange ideas, find common themes and sound out possible projects. This in turn helps to find and ideally initiate projects.

Dr. Nora Kottmann

  • Principal Researcher and Head of Research Group, German Institute for Japanese Studies, Tokyo
  • Lecturer and research associate, Department of Modern Japanese Studies, University of Düsseldorf
  • PhD in Japanese Studies (University of Düsseldorf)
  • MA in Political Science (focus: South Asia) and Japanese Studies (Heidelberg University, Hitotsubashi University)

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