Director: Morgan Pitelka, Associate Professor Asian Studies, UNC, mpitelka@unc.edu
Contact: Brianna Phillips, brianna.phillips@duke.edu

Mailing address: TCJS, Box 90411, Duke University
323A Trent Drive Hall, Durham, NC 27708-0411

Executive Committee:

  • Library Rep: Kristina Troost, Duke, Head, East Asian Collection, Dept. of International and Area Studies
  • APSI Director: Simon Partner, Professor of History, Duke
  • CAC Director: Michael Tsin, Associate Professor of History, UNC
  • Duke Rep: Leo Ching, Associate Professor, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Duke
  • NCSU Rep: David Ambaras, Associate Professor of History, NCSU
  • UNC Rep: Chris Nelson, Associate Professor of Anthropology, UNC


The Japanese studies faculty of Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), and North Carolina State University (NCSU) collaborate in the Triangle Center for Japanese Studies. The Triangle region of North Carolina has been recognized as a distinct metropolitan region with a unique academic community for more than half a century. Raleigh, the state capital, is home to NCSU. Durham, 30 minutes to the northwest, is home to Duke. Chapel Hill, located 20 minutes to the southwest of Durham, is home to UNC. Also found in the area are the Research Triangle Park, the National Humanities Center, and numerous other research and education institutions.

The Japanese studies faculties of Duke, UNC, and NCSU have enjoyed close relations for many years. Duke and UNC, in particular, have established university-wide relationships that facilitate exchange at both the student and faculty level. Duke students, undergraduate and graduate, are able to take UNC classes for credit, and vice versa. There is a free shuttle bus service running every half hour between the two campuses, which are just twenty minutes apart. Both universities recognize and encourage faculty participation on graduate student committees across the campuses. In other words, the infrastructure is already in place for the creation of meaningful collaborative programs.

In the area of Japanese studies, collaboration across the campuses has been close. In 2008-9, faculty members from the three campuses established the Triangle Japan Forum, a monthly seminar bringing scholars and students in all disciplines together and offering presentations of work in progress, celebrations of finished work, and lectures by invited scholars.

Collectively, our community is one of the strongest scholarly groups in Japanese studies in the United States. It includes a total of twenty-six core research faculty members (fourteen at Duke, nine at UNC, and three at NCSU), in addition to twelve language-teaching faculty and a number of other faculty members with some research interests in Japan. Graduate work in Japanese studies at Duke is thriving, and UNC has the capacity for more. Japanese studies faculty can work with Ph.D. students in Anthropology, Art History, History (the Asian field was established in 2008), and Comparative Literature at both UNC and Duke, while NCSU offers an M.A. in History that attracts Japan specialists, Duke’s Asia/Pacific Studies Institute offers an M.A. in East Asian Studies, and UNC’s Asian Studies Department is in the midst of developing a graduate program. NCSU and UNC faculty also mentor graduate students and sit on Ph.D. committees at Duke, and we hope the reverse will be true as our programs grow in the future. Our monthly Triangle Japan Forum seminar regularly attracts fifteen to twenty faculty members, in addition to graduate and undergraduate students. The Duke and UNC campuses have by far the strongest combined library holdings in Japanese studies in the Southeastern US. Duke has 60,000 Japanese-language volumes, a comprehensive English-language collection, almost 400 serial subscriptions, 10,000 microfilm materials, a number of full-text databases including the Yomiuri and Asahi newspaper collections, and a substantial collection of primary source and archival materials, while UNC has 6,000 volumes (historically, Duke has focused on its Japanese language collection while UNC has focused on Chinese materials).

Our combined profile makes us a prominent scholarly community in Japanese studies in any part of the world. In the Southeastern United States, no other university or consortium matches our size or prominence (the Washington DC area comes closest, and we will seek to work with faculty in that area to enhance our collective profile still further). The Japanese studies faculty at all three institutions have come to realize that by enhancing our collaborative efforts, we can play an important role in supporting and promoting Japanese studies throughout the Southeast, while raising our collective profile and attracting top-class graduate students.