vol.013 - Interview Series『Robert Campbell Director-General, National Institute of Japanese Literature』 インタビュー・シリーズ①『ロバート キャンベル国文学研究資料館新館長』

Interview Series

Robert Campbell

Director-General, National Institute of Japanese Literature





In April 2017 the National Institute of Japanese Literature (NIJL) welcomed Robert Campbell as its new director-general. He succeeds Yūichiro Imanishi who served as director general for eight years from 2009 until his retirement in 2016. The ten-year “Project to Build an International Collaborative Research Network for Pre-modern Japanese Texts” that commenced in 2014 is well on track as we eagerly anticipate the results.


Narifumi Tachimoto, president of the National Institutes for the Humanities (NIHU) asked the new director-general about his plans for meeting NIJL’s domestic and international expectations amidst the current situation of severe financial constraints.



Narifumi Tachimoto

President, National Institutes for the Humanities


1.NIJL’s Future Mission and Standards for Performance Evaluations


 (Tachimoto) In the monthly magazine, “Gekkan Ecoutezbien” (http://ecoutez.exblog.jp/26799875/), I read an article about the discovery of the “Mario Marega Collection” in the Salesian University library (※1) and learned more about your deep relationship with NIJL. I am delighted that you’ve assumed the position of director-general.


First and foremost, from your viewpoint as the new director-general, I would like to ask you about your thoughts on the institute’s mission, the vital pillar of the NIJL, as well as about measures for performance evaluations; secondly, about globalization of the NIHU and its six constituent institutes, including NIJL; thirdly, about your vision for the way forward for the inter-university research institutes.


 (Campbell)  Thank you very much. Regarding my relationship with NIJL, during my tenure at Kyushu University, I had the opportunity to partake in NIJL’s research and collection initiative (http://www.nijl.ac.jp/index_e.html). Then in 1995, I joined the NIJL where I was assistant professor for five years before relocating to the University of Tokyo. So this is like coming home to my old haunt.


Records of Japanese literature need to be converted into materials and resources that can be used for research, such that it can be regarded as data, as we do at NIJL. In other words, NIJL is the only institution worldwide that collects and investigates original written records created by previous generations as specimens for research.


(Tachimoto)  I see. So NIJL’s mission after the Second World War to become the first archive to collect materials that were in danger of being scattered was very fortunate.


(Campbell) I believe our predecessors probably had a sense of urgency during the War, and thus began preparing for this sort of archiving in the 1960s. Compared to other Northeast Asian countries, for historical and cultural reasons, Japan had a considerable amount of documents preserved on paper. So as soon as the war ended, Japan started to collect documents that had escaped human and natural calamities.


In looking back over the past 50 years, I feel it is extremely fortuitous that NIJL was created as an agency for both preservation and research because that ensures that, no matter what may happen, these materials shall survive as assets of humankind.


If we were to attempt to start something like this now, I think it would probably be very difficult to accomplish. It’s not something that can be done on a short or medium-term project basis. NIJL began as a tiny spec in the continuum of the nation’s long history and it is crucial that the initiative is being sustained.


 (Tachimoto)  How do you envision the next 50 years of the research institute?


(Campbell) NIJL has a dense forest of cultural resources and a network of people. I feel that our foremost commitment towards society is in the way we use the raw materials for research as well as how they can be applied toward cultural innovations. We must consider how we should organize the materials we currently have so that they can actually serve as vital testimonies of Japan’s literary culture. It is also essential that these materials are available multilingually and accessible not just to academics of Japanese literature, but also to other humanities scholars, and even to young students. The doors should also remain open to those working in other fields.


 (Tachimoto) So communication is really about the mutual exchange of ideas. Regarding setting standards for performance evaluations, researchers are faced with external expectations that demonstrate their “achievement” by meeting certain benchmarks. In that regard, an institution like NIJL, that builds literacy in a way that is difficult to see, it may be hard to demonstrate NIJL’s achievements. What are your thoughts about that?


(Campbell)  I don’t think that’s difficult at all. NIJL has collected pre-modern texts related to Japan from all over the world that have been preserved as original specimens or in the form of photographs that are then shared for research. These are used by researchers from various disciplines as well as by creators who inspire, revitalize and synergize communities leading to cultural innovations. For example, we have acquired a great deal of wisdom from classical texts on how societies overcame devastations by calamities and crises. As in the still waters deep in the ocean, through the cooperation by many for nearly half a century, we can say that the wealth of NIJL is the culmination of all the nourishment deposited by all those contributors. And NIJL will continue its endeavors. All that may be difficult to show concretely, but we can make their achievements visible.


There was a newspaper article published in March 2017 about the joint research on auroras by the National Institute of Polar Research (NIPR) and NIJL. Meigetsuki, the diary of the 13th century poet Fujiwara no Teika, is a classic among classics. In it there is a mention of sekki, red vapor, visible around Fujiwara’s mountain villa, Ogurasansō (※2). The scene is described as “dreadful because the red vapor looked like fire blazing the mountains.”


It had been speculated that comets caused the phenomenon but when we integrated the research by our researchers and that by NIPR, we learned that the appearance was actually caused by an aurora. At that time the solar winds and terrestrial magnetism behaved differently from how they behave today and that is why an aurora was visible in the sky in 13th century Japan.


Our understanding of expressions in poems from the Kamakura period depicting arrays of colors and light, religion, worship, the sense of salvation and physical sensations may need to shift with our new knowledge that the society at that time shared the experience of observing this aurora.


In order to support the uncovering of such materials, to organize and make them accessible to the public, NIJL has deftly sewn the seeds so that rich flowers can bloom between the dandelions without excessive weeding. Those are the achievements that are most visible to me.


(Tachimoto) Returning to the topic of performance evaluations, in order to expand the appreciation of the humanities in our society, we have started a program to train liberal arts communicators who promote the understanding of the humanities. These communicators will reach out to society and raise the visibility of humanities research. It seems that the literary interpreters that you’ve discussed may also be related to assessments. What are your thoughts about that?


(Campbell)  In the past, Japanese literature was viewed as an academic subject that provided various ideas and skills demanded by society, but by the 1990’s many Japanese universities started eliminating literature departments. Today there are a much smaller number of institutions that offer full-fledged literature programs. Because of this, young academics can no longer spend an entire career teaching only the Tale of Genji or Natsume Soseki. However, these people are essential in supporting Japan’s potential and its culture. I believe that it’s necessary to expand skills that can be evaluated for work in universities, museums, municipalities and the media.


In the field of non-Japanese literature, those fluent in foreign languages translate novels and philosophical texts and these are counted as scholarly activities. However, in Japanese literature, despite needing a range of skills such as being able to decipher words written in cursive form, revise and annotate the text and then interpret the text into modern language--skills that are beyond what is needed to translate a work from one language to another--those skills are not appreciated in Japan.


I would like young scholars to develop skills that enable them to examine the plethora of Japanese classical literature, uncover what’s there, convert relevant material into a form that is accessible to contemporary society, collaborate with others from various disciplines and be involved in endeavors that lead to the birth of new ideas and creations.


 (Tachimoto)  So a liberal arts communicator and a literary interpreter are similar. I think the only way that NIHU’s six constituent institutes will be appreciated is by making the resources accessible to contemporary society and then disseminating them.


 (Campbell) I think the idea of literary interpreters should permeate into various academic societies in Japan. I also think that it’s necessary for universities and other educational institutions to create programs that accredit literary interpretation as a qualification. If we are able to achieve this, that would be one way that shows the academic value of humanities research. We have an obligation to see to it that we will have literary interpreters equipped to make new discoveries and salvage materials from a nearly inexhaustible mine of Japanese classical knowledge and be prepared to tackle new challenges.



2. Globalization of NIHU and its Constituent Institutes


 (Tachimoto) Literary interpretation and cross-cultural understanding bring us to the topic of globalization. Currently there are external assessment benchmarks that have been set to measure globalization. What does it mean when we talk about globalization of Japanese literature and culture? From the perspective of the outside world, what needs to be globalized? What is the direction that needs to be taken?


(Campbell)  First of all, it’s vital that the environment is prepared for globalization. It’s not something that is either decided or dictated as to what needs to be done at every stage. It is similar to translations. Several years ago in Japan, there was a project led by the Japanese government to translate Japanese literature, publish a large number of works and disseminate them in a very short period of time.


At that time, a committee decided which novels would be translated. I don’t think that works. In different regions of the world, the demands of each of the cultural spheres are distinct. So I have some reservation using the term “transmit” because transmissions originate from within our own conceptual framework. We need to consider what demands exist as well as about how and where those demands connect to a society. We need to think about a format that would allow us to share the resources and then selectively translate the materials into many languages. This isn’t about translating an entire work but creating a bibliography and summaries of many works in less than 800 words and translating them into many languages. We would not be unilaterally deciding what to transmit but mutually making those decisions while putting into consideration the demands by various cultures as well as by the time period. These are decisions that need to be made as we build our inventory of the works.



3. The Future of the Inter-University Research Institutes


 (Tachimoto) I too believe that’s the steadiest path. NIJL was created 45 years ago as an inter-university research institute. According to the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, inter-university research institutes are very unique research organizations. Do you agree?


(Campbell)  Yes I do. This institute is open to all students and members of the faculty and staff of every university in Japan. We try not to impose what we think is constructive for universities, but rather track the research goals in each of the universities to help us determine the programs to be sponsored. By collaborating with various disciplines and research facilities, we endeavor to make Japanese universities stronger and I believe that is our mission.


I, for one, as an interested party, think that one of NIJL’s greatest accomplishments is its creation of the research and collection initiative. Scholars in a particular field working in the same region collaborate beyond the walls of their institutions to investigate and research materials available in that region. As a result, they are able to accomplish something that would not be possible within the confines of one university. The researchers and educators involved in the collaborative efforts are then able to utilize what they gained in insights, experiences, and human networks and further enhance their own work. I am quite aware that my own work experience as an investigator in northern Kyushu for nearly ten years raised my value and abilities as an educator at Kyushu University. I don’t know of any other program like this anywhere else in the world. I think we need to look into the value of this program in a more positive way and see how they connect to the creation of new academic fields.


 (Tachimoto)  I think pioneering into new territories is the raison d’être of the inter-university research institutes and, in that regard, NIJL has already established solid cooperative relationships. Moreover, it sounds as though NIJL’s initiatives are well known among the community of researchers.


 (Campbell)  Yes. It’s known by overseas communities too. There are tremendous opportunities that lie ahead. We are now immersed in the midst of what was solidly built by our predecessors. My hope is for many citizens, taxpayers, children and their parents to become aware of this, and to participate in our projects.


In Japanese academic societies, the research community and general public are normally addressed as two discrete groups, but I think creating this dichotomy has negative effects and is counterproductive. Today, right here, I am considered an expert of Japanese literature, but if the angle were to turn 30 degrees, to turn to historical research and geographical research, let alone polar research, I would be considered just another member of the general public, a complete layperson. New academic fields will not emerge out of the mere ten degrees I turn as an expert. By incorporating the gradations of diverse needs of the general public, the layperson may gain something from picking up and reading publications or viewing captivating images and texts on the website. It’s important that we also publicize our research workshops and carry on with more of these outreach activities.


(Tachimoto)  Professor Campbell, thank you very much for allowing me to interview you today.


※ 1 The official name is Biblioteca Don Bosco, Università Pontificia Salesiana (http://biblioteca.unisal.it/) located in the suburbs of Rome. It is a library of Japanese classics collected by Father Mario Marega.

※ 2 Court noble and poet in the early Kamakura period. Fujiwara Sadaie’s mountain villa was said to be located at the foot of Mount Ogura in Saga, Ukyo-ku of Kyoto city.






ロバート キャンベル国文学研究資料館新館長



人間文化研究機構長 立本 成文


国文学研究資料館(以下、国文研)では、2009年度から2016年度まで8年間館長を務められた今西祐一郎氏が退任され、2017年4月よりロバート キャンベル氏が新館長に就任されました。2014年度から10年計画で始まった大規模学術フロンティア促進事業「日本語の歴史的典籍の国際共同研究ネットワーク構築計画」もいよいよ軌道にのり、その成果が待たれています。これからの国文研は、厳しい財政状態のなかで国内外からの期待にどう応えていくか、人文機構長が新館長に抱負を伺いました。



(立本) 「月刊えくてびあん」(http://ecoutez.exblog.jp/26799875/)の中で、サレジオ大学図書館(※1)の「マリオ・マレガ文庫」発見の記事を拝見し、キャンベル先生が国文研と非常に深い関係にあるということをあらためて知りました。先生に館長になっていただいて非常に喜んでいる次第です。



(キャンベル) ありがとうございます。国文研との関係は、九州大学におりましたころ、国文研の文献調査事業(日:http://www.nijl.ac.jp/pages/investigation.html)(英:http://www.nijl.ac.jp/index_e.html)に加わったことがあります。また、1995年から5年間ほど助教授として勤めたことがありますので、古巣に戻ってきたという格好です。




(立本) そうですか。そうするとやはり国文研が最初の資料館として、戦後ばらばらになったものを集める、というミッションが良かったのですね。


(キャンベル) それは戦時中に研究生活を送っていた先達が、多分ある危機的意識を持って1960年代から準備してくださったと思うのです。ですから、他の北東アジアの国々に比べて紙媒体の資料が残りやすかったさまざまな歴史的経緯や文化的な構造が日本にあって、人災、天災をくぐり抜けてきた資料を戦後まず集めました。そして、今後何があっても人類の財産として継承していくという保管機関と研究機関が合わさった形として国文研が始まったことは、50年になろうとしている今になって振り返ると、大変幸いなことです。




(立本) では、研究所の次の50年をどういうふうにお考えでしょうか。


(キャンベル) 鬱蒼とした森のような文化資源と人脈があります。これらを原材料として、これから研究や新たな文化の創成にどのように活用していくかということが、私たちが今、社会から付託を受けている一番大きなことだと感じます。ですから、今あるものをどのように整理して、言語文化の最も重要な証言として実際に運用していくのか。そして日本文学研究者だけではなく、他の人文研究者や若い学生たち、そして他分野の方々にも門戸を広げ、言語を越えて交信していくことが必要です。


(立本) 相互発信という意味で「交信」ですね。さて、今の評価指標ですと、研究者が「アチーブメント、達成した」と言ってその達成した指標を見せないと世間が納得しないということになっています。その点は、国文研のようにじわっと国民の基礎力を作っていく分野では非常に難しいと思うのですが、それはどうお考えでしょう。


(キャンベル) 私は、見せにくいという意識はないです。国文研の事業は、世界中にある日本の明治以前の文献を見いだし、写真で撮り、実物も収集し、それを私たちの共有のマテリアルとして研究する。一方ではそれを携えて、他分野の研究者やクリエーターとします。彼らからインスピレーションを得ながら、共に地域社会を活性化させ、新たなる文化の創成に関わっていくことです。たとえば、古典籍にはかつて災害によって社会が部分的に壊れたとき、あるいは危機にさらされたときに、どのように立ち上がったのかという蘇生の知恵がたくさんあるわけです。ですから、絶えず静かな海底のように、国文研が半世紀近くかけて多くの人々の協力を得ながらこつこつと豊かな養分を堆積させていく事業はこれからもやります。それ自体は見せにくく、ポイントとしては立たせにくいかもしれませんが、そこから必ずわれわれは、眼に見える成果を出していきます。





(立本) 評価というと指標にばかり目が行きますが、われわれとしては人文学の知を社会に広める、人文知コミュニケーターを育成し、発信から得たフィードバックを評価につなげる取り組みを開始しました。先生がご発案の古典インタプリタも評価に結び付いていくのではないかと思いますが、いかがでしょう。


(キャンベル) 以前は、社会に求められるさまざまな思考やスキルを獲得する教育教科として日本文学があったのですが、1990年代から日本の大学では文学部が次々と改組され、本格的に学べる場が減っていきました。それにより、若い研究者たちが、例えば『源氏物語』や夏目漱石だけを教えることで、一生を全うすることが難しくなっています。しかし、彼らは重要な日本の底力、教養を支えている立場の人たちです。大学の中で、あるいは博物館、美術館、自治体やメディアの中でも働き、評価されるためのスキルを広げていく必要があると私は思うのです。




(立本) では、人文知コミュニケーターも古典インタプリタも同じ発想ですね。機構としては、機構の6機関がどんどん翻訳しながら発信することが評価につながる、それしか評価をしてくれないと考えています。



(キャンベル) 古典インタプリタという概念を日本の各学会に浸透させ、それぞれの大学や教育機関が資格として認定できるようなプログラムを作らないといけないと思います。それができるだけでも一つの評価の対象にもなると思います。古典インタプリタがいて、無尽蔵にある日本の古典知、人文知から新たな発見や救い、あるいは挑戦が生み出され、そこに実際に着手されるところまで私たちが見届ける義務があると思うのです。





(立本) 古典インタプリタや異文化理解は、まさにグローバル化の話になります。今、外部からグローバル化という評価指標軸が設定されていますが、日本文学や日本文化のグローバル化とは何なのでしょう。外に対して何をグローバル化していくのか、その方向性はどういうふうにお考えでしょうか。


(キャンベル) まず、グローバル化できるような環境を整えることが大切です。何をやるかということを私たちは一つ一つ決めて示すべきではないと思います。これは翻訳することもそうです。日本では数年前、日本文学を翻訳して、短期間にたくさんの作品を出版して普及させようということを政府主導でやろうというプロジェクトがありました。そのときに、例えば小説であれば何を翻訳するのかを委員会で決めていたのです。これは、私は駄目だと思います。世界の各地域、文化圏の中で求めるものが違います。






(立本) それが一番着実な方法だと私も思います。さて、国文研は50年前にできて13年前に大学共同利用機関になったわけです。大学共同利用機関は、文科省の説明では世界にユニークな組織であるという。これは本当でしょうか。



(キャンベル) そのとおりですね。全ての大学の教職員や学生に開かれ、かつ一方的に何かを提供するのではなく、各大学が目指す研究の在り方に沿って、学科や研究組織などと連動、連携しながら大学を強化していくことがミッションとしてあると思うのです。



(立本) そういう新しい領域を開拓していくのが、大学共同利用機関の存在理由ではないかと思うのですが、国文研はそういう意味では非常に地道に、協力関係を作ってきたことがよくわかりました。この取り組みは研究者コミュニティには知られているのですよね。


(キャンベル) はい。海外のコミュニティにも知られています。それは素晴らしいチャンスです。私たちは、地道に先達が作り上げてきたものの中に、今浸っているわけですから、多くの国民、納税者、子どもたち、その保護者にも知ってもらいたいと思うのです。




(立本) キャンベル先生、本日はどうもありがとうございました。


※1 正式名称は、教皇庁立サレジオ大学 ドン・ボスコ図書館(http://biblioteca.unisal.it/)(Biblioteca Don Bosco, Università Pontificia Salesiana)


※2 鎌倉時代初期の公家であり、歌人でもあった藤原定家の山荘。京都市右京区嵯峨の小倉山の山麓にあったとされる