A newly transplanted Oaklander, Professor Karen Nakamura joined the MCPD in 2018 and currently serves as chair. Identifying as a disabled person, her day job is as a cultural and visual anthropologist and the Haas Distinguished Chair in Disability Studies at the University of California Berkeley, where she also fights for disabled access for students, staff, faculty, and community members. Her research has led her to spend the last two decades looking at disability movements in Japan. In 2006, she published Deaf in Japan: Signing and the Politics of Identity, an ethnography of sign language and deaf social movements. Her second project on psychiatric disabilities and community based recovery resulted in two ethnographic films and a book titled, A Disability of the Soul: An Ethnography of Schizophrenia and Mental Illness in Contemporary Japan (2014). Her books, films, and articles have resulted in numerous prizes including the John Whitney Hall Book Prize, the SVA Short Film Award, and David Plath Media Award. She is currently working on the intersections of sexuality, disability, technology, and eugenics. She travels with her service dog, Momo, whom she regrets seems to have more interesting Facebook friends than her.
Term Start Date: Sep 3, 2019
Term End Date: Sep 2, 2022