Within GREGAL doctoral theses specifically related to Japan and South Korea are being developed since 2016, contributing to made of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona one of the main  higher education centers in Spain conducting theses related to East Asia.

PhD thesis in progress at the UAB


De Vargas Díaz del Rio, Ferran. El cine de la Nûberu Bâgu como correlato artístico del movimiento de la Nueva Izquierda japonesa.

Supervisor: Dr. Blai Guarné
Area: East Asian Studies


When forming a view on contemporary Japan, the cultural imagination modeled on the springs of Orientalism usually highlights supposed feudal reminiscences as central values of the Japanese idiosyncrasy, concluding stereotypically that Japanese society is essentially conservative and tending to harmony.

But actually, Japan has experienced during the contemporary history processes marked by the influence of revolutionary ideologies. In this sense, the period of the 1960s and early 1970s was marked by the strong influence of revolutionary left movements. In the orientalist imagination reigns the harmonious narrative of “economic miracle” to explain this important historical period, ignoring the political conflicts occurred and the importance of the development of revolutionary ideas in shaping the contemporary Japanese subject. 

My fundamental motivation is to provide an alternative narration that delves into the factors of political conflict and of the struggle for hegemony. I think that artistic productions are fruitful windows through which to observe very vividly elements of the historical moment to which they belong; to put in some way, they are living pieces of a past to which we have access in the present. And in the case of my Ph.D., I focus on analyzing the artistic movement of Nûberu Bâbu cinema as a representative reflection of the Japanese New Left ideology, which somewhat starred the dissent and the struggle for the full development of an autonomous subject in Japan of the time.


japanese cinema; ideological analisy; nuberu bagu; New Left; Yoshida Kiju; Oshima Nagisa; Terayama Shuji; Yoshimoto Takaaki

González de la Fuente, EduardoLa conformación del Karate de Okinawa entre la tradición y la modernidad. Una aproximación a los procesos interculturales en el contexto de la globalización.

Supervisors: Dr. Blai Guarné, Dr. Gustavo Pita Céspedes
Area: East Asian Studies


The aim of this thesis is to critically analyze the cultural construction and political-discursive configuration of Okinawan karate as a modern intercultural phenomena and communitarian techné of peace. To this end, this PhD research project will examine the culture of karate in the confluence of discourses and practices that can be found in its composition, critically questioning the consensus basis that underlie its public hegemonic discourse: tradition, interculturality and culture of peace. In this sense, the socio-historical and cultural processes of codification, standardization, sportization, spectacularization and commercialization of karate will be approached from a perspective that merges the notions of japanism and orientalism, center and periphery, tradition and modernity, culture and commodification.

In Okinawa, a place of intersection of colonialisms, a sum of circumstances congregates such as a peripheral situation, a history of diaspora, a dual occupation both of territory and imaginary by Japanese and American govenrments, or an economic dependence on both nations that situates Okinawa as the poorest prefecture of Japan. These factors make the sociocultural reality of the archipelago a fertile ground for the analysis of karate as a global intercultural phenomena. Therefore, the inclusion in my PhD research of this territorial dimension will serve to deinterlace and problematize karate as an essential and distinctive manifestation of Japanese identity. To do so, this research will put into question the ideas of nihonjinron genre and will analyze the policies of the dōka seisaku. Karate is the world’s most widely spread Okinawan cultural phenomenon, and therefore it represents an excellent opportunity to approach the sociohistorical study of multiculturalism in Japanese society, since in its construction both multiethnic and social stratification elements meet. So, karate, understood as a space of social, cultural and economic concurrence, is a productive area for analyzing Japan’s cultural and economic policies, bringing light on its intra and extra-cultural relations in the context of globalization.


Okinawa; karate; heritage; identity; cultural politics

Malo,Sanz, Mario. Génesis, desarrollo y características de la sociedad civil en Japón.

Supervisor: Dr. Blai Guarné
Area: East Asian Studies


The eight years since the triple disaster of March 2011 in Japan provide a sufficiently broad time perspective to interpret the dynamics of articulation of civil society and Japanese public publicity before these events.
The research proposes a critical approach to the institutions and social practices responsible for the production and development of the civic dimension of solidarity as an ideological discourse that is structured transversally in contemporary Japan and that expands with the internationalization of the Japanese civil society.


Japan, Fukushima, civil society, Spain, internationalization, transnational relations, NPO

Matsushima, Kei. La cultura de la risa: Estudio comparativo sobre el humor en las producciones audiovisuales japonesas y españolas

Supervisor: Dr. Blai Guarné
Area: East Asian Studies


The hypothesis underlying the current paper is that, despite the differences between Japanese and Spanish cultures, audiovisual productions in both countries make use of similar humorous themes, even though the response they elicit in their target audiences differs.
This disparity of reactions constitutes a reflection of specific social contexts where cultural background plays a relevant role. In order to validate this hypothesis I intend to pursue the following specific goals:

1. To identify and analyse recurring topics in recent television comedy productions, both Japanese and Spanish, taking into consideration cultural elements present in their formulation.
2. To understand how these topics relate to standard humour in their audiovisual productions and explore the features which shape the concept of humour in Japanese and Spanish societies.
3. To provide a critical reflection on the role television comedies play in the construction of distinct cultural imaginaries in each society.
In order to fulfil the aforementioned goals, I will undertake a comparative analysis of audiovisual productions mass-consumed in Japan and Spain, specifically looking at national-level television programmes lead by professional humourists. Additionally, the design and progression of the research at hand may involve at some point the analysis of other works, such as films, videos, shows, newspapers, weekly publications, magazines, tales, novels or websites, as auxiliary resources.


humor; audiovisual productions; Japan; Spain; cultural imaginaries

Umemoto, Tomoko. Food, culture and translation: Panorama of Japanese fusion cuisine in Catalonia

Supervisors: Dra. Lucía Molina Martínez, Dr. Blai Guarné
Area: Translation and Interpreting



The aim of this investigation is to analyze and to describe the role of the translation of linguistic-cultural gastronomic elements in hybrid culinary settings through the study, in particular, of the situation of Japanese cuisine in Catalonia. More precisely, through the study of a linguistic corpus concerning Japanese fusion cuisine, we wish to investigate how the cultural aspects connected to cuisine and food are reinterpreted on being transferred to a different culture; thus we expect to contribute to the wider analysis of the existing dialectics between cultural globalization and localization.



Translating cultures; cross-cultural studies; fusion/hybrid cuisine; cultural references; globalization/location

Current theses in other universities


Ceniccola, Serena. Beyond Japanese American literature: translation, transnationality and cultural contact in the literature of Japan and America. Birkbeck, University of London. Supervisor: Marcos Centeno.


Since the publication of Aiiieeeee!: an anthology of Asian-American writers in 1974, published studies on Japanese-American literature have approached the subject as part of the American literary scene. The predominant interest for English written text created the misconception of Japanese American literature being an all-American phenomenon, even though a homogenous definition of Japanese American literature has yet to be agreed upon.Through the analysis of texts in both Japanese and English by authors such as Levy Hideo, Mizumura Minae, and Julie Kagawa, this research advances a definition of and argues for the consideration of a Japanese-American transnational literature.

This thesis pushes beyond the limits of previous studies on Asian-American literature. It does so by analyzing works by authors who do not fit within the current discourse and by approaching the matter of translation as an example of rewriting tradition through language. In 1960 Kazuo Kawai noted that America “had continuously exercised the preeminent influence in the making of modern Japan” since the time of Commodore Perry. As a consequence, the study of the US influence on contemporary Japan (a so-called Americanized Japan) is now a critical mainstay across a number of disciplines. However, few studies have examined the obverse relationship: how Japan has influenced contemporary America as a result of both the 1945 Occupation and the migration from and to Japan, even though signs of a reciprocal cultural influence can be found both in literature and language. Thus, this thesis argues for the novel consideration of a Japanese-American transnational literature that has not previously been advanced.


Japanese American literature, Levy Hideo, Mizumura Minae, Julie Kagawa,

Defended PhD dissertations


Grau de Pablos, Tomás. Intercambio cultural y producción de imaginario simbólico a través del medio del videojuego: el caso de las industrias japonesa y española, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (2017). Supervisor: Dr. Blai Guarné, Dr. Artur Lozano-Méndez.

PhD thesis reviewers


Serrano Muñoz, JordiLiterature, discourse and hegemony: National narratives of Japan in the IUS and Spain, Universitat Pompeu Fabra (2019), Dr. Blai Guarné.

Rubio Martín, RaquelEstudio de la alternancia de uso de las tres grafías del sistema de escritura japonés -kanji, hiragana y katakana-. Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (2019), Dr. Blai Guarné.

Barnett, LoisConsuming the “West”: Audiences, Industries, Film and Fashion in Japan (1923-1939), SOAS, University of London (2019), Dr. Marcos Centeno.

Ruiz Tada, MarinaEvaluative Language of Japanese-English Bilingual Women on Facebook, Universitat de Barcelona (2019), Dra. Makiko Fukuda.

Fukukawa,MisaMultilingual Literacy Practices of Students Aged 6-14 at a Japanese School in Catalonia: Language, Writing Sytstems and Technology, Universitat Pompeu Fabra (2019), Dra. Makiko Fukuda.

Conejero Magro, Luis JavierAnalisis Del Intertexto Biblico De La Segunda Tetralogia Dewilliam Shakespeare y su Traduccion al Español, Universidad De Extremadura (2018), Dr. Marcos Centeno.

Arrasate Hierro-Olavarría, MarinaProcessos d’arribada i experiències educatives de dones d’origen pakistanès a Barcelona. Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (2018), Dr. Blai Guarné.

Loriguillo, AntonioComplex Narration in Post-Classical Anime: Narrative Ambiguity in Japanese Comercial Animation, Universitat Jaume I (2018), Dr. Marcos Centeno.

Taeyeong, KimLa recepción del pensamiento español en la república de corea (1981-2015), Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (2018, Dra. Mihwa Jo Jeong.

Escamilla Ochoa, Irene IsabelAnálisis de errores de la interlengua fónica de coreanos aprendices de español, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (2018), Dra. Mihwa Jo Jeong.

Bellés García, JonatanGodzilla y la cristalización de la amenaza nuclear. La época dorada del cine kaiju eiga y ciencia ficción japonesa, Universitat Politècnica de València (2017), Dr. Marcos Centeno.

Fortes Guerrero,RáulHayao Miyazaki, la lámpara maravillosa. Un estudio de su cine y de sus referencias humanistas a la luz de las conexiones culturales entre Japón y Occidente. Universitat de València (2017), Dr. Blai Guarné.

Centeno Martín, MarcosSusumu Hani (1950-1960). La aportación teórico-práctica al documental y al cine juvenil japonés. Una aproximación al caso de Hani como precursor de la nueva ola. Universitat de València (2015), Dr. Blai Guarné.

Hernández Pérez, ManuelLa narrativa cross-media en el ámbito de la industria japonesa del entretenimiento: estudio del manga, el anime y los videojuegos. Universidad de Murcia (2013), Dr. Blai Guarné.

Gómez Aragón, AnjharaPatrimonio, discursos identitarios y recursos turísticos. Creación e interpertación de las imágenes de Andalucía por el turismo japonès.  Universidad de Sevilla (2011), Dr. Blai Guarné.

Lozano-Méndez, ArturLa enseñanza de cultura japonesa en los Estudios de Asia Oriental en España y de la cultura espanyola en los Estudios Hispánicos en Japón. Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (2011), Dr. Blai Guarné.