After graduating in 2021, I started my PhD journey at Ghent University. I was already convinced by the undergraduate and graduate programs, and thus was very happy to be able to pursue my doctorate here as well. However, rather than a continuation of the previous years, the PhD was marked by some novelty. I was overjoyed to meet my promotor, Prof. Dr. Anna Andreeva, whose knowledge of premodern Japan has already proven to be a true inspiration. Furthermore, the topic of the research, “Buddhism, medicine and gender”, was rather new for me (except for a course on Edo period medicine during the first year of the Master’s program). More specifically, I am focussing on the cultural history of the internal organs, the gozō-roppu 五臓六 腑 theorem, which goes back to traditional Chinese medicine and argues that the organs can be divided into two categories: the five viscera, and the six entrails. The former serve to store blood, qi, essence, etc., whereas the latter’s primary purpose is digestion. In the sources I am concerned with, the five viscera are then linked to all kinds of discourses, mainly to esoteric Buddhism, but also, for example, to the indigenous Japanese Shinto religion. This topic, too, has already proven extremely interesting. It allows me to engage with old Japanese sources, such as scrolls and manuscripts, and has already taught me a lot about what kind of ideas existed throughout Japanese history among different layers of society.
Throughout my studies, I have always been interested in many different aspects of the Japanese archipelago: its language, history, customs, philosophy, literature, film, music, food, landscapes, shrines and temples, etc. This broad interest has also been visible in the topics of my Bachelor’s and Master’s theses. The first concerned the discourse of former Prime Minsters Koizumi Jun’ichiro and Abe Shinzo and looked for traces of Pan-Asianist ideology. The second concerned Japanese Marxian economist Kuruma Samezo and his view on Hegelian forms of Marxism. Finally, for my internship, I was a junior researcher at the European Institute for Asian Studies, where I worked on contemporary politics in Japan, focussing on Japanese policy and the then new Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide. The topic of the PhD will therefore be another interesting new road to explore, with many challenges, but also rewards.
Outside of the academic world, I am a passionate musician (a drummer to be precise), and am actively recording and performing with several bands.