Research Interests: As professor of the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, I conduct research on human-environmental interaction, human rights, and the long-term sustainability of human cultures and societies in the past and present. The geographic focus of my research is on Japan and East Asia. Using the theoretical framework of historical ecology, my research focuses on the importance of food and subsistence diversity, social networks and local autonomy for understanding the resilience of socioeconomic systems.
My archaeological projects in Japan, including the Berkeley Sannnai Maruyama Project and the Goshizawa Matsumori Project, examine the mechanisms of long-term culture change among prehistoric Jomon hunter-gatherers (ca. 14,000-500 BC). From 2014 to 2017, I was the leader of the Small-scale Economies Project, a three-year collaborative project that involved in transdisciplinary studies of archaeological sites as well as modern-day rural communities and small-scale food production units, with an emphasis on the importance of traditional ecological knowledge reflected in material culture.
As an environmental archaeologist and anthropologist working on Japan, I have also been working on the study of the impacts of the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011 and the Fukushima Nuclear Accident. In collaboration with local scholars and stakeholders, I use insights obtained from these projects to develop outreach and implementation programs to promote place-based, small-scale and diversified food production.