Ted Bestor’s Senior Scholar Acceptance Speech

Congratulations to Professor Ted Bestor of Harvard University who was awarded this year’s SUNTA Senior Scholar Award. Unfortunately, Professor Bestor had to undergo surgery the week of the Conference and was thus unable to attend. Hopwever, he generously provided us with a copy of his aceptance speech.

It is hard to imagine today that when I started graduate school, the field of “urban anthropology” did not yet exist, and to the extent that anthropologists had conducted research in cities, it was usually connected to rural-to-urban migration and/or the study of slums, squatter settlements, and other marginalized communities.

If I have made a contribution to the study of urban, national, and transnational anthropology it is by being part of a cohort of researchers – including Setha Low, Gary McDonogh, and Bob Rotenberg – who examine the dynamics of urban life, including spatial configurations, the middle classes, and urban institutions that link the local to the national and transnational levels of structure.
It has been my great pleasure to have done research on Tokyo for many years, and am honored that my colleagues in SUNTA have judged that my writings have had an impact on the field.
Of course, I have to remind friends (and myself) that whatever I have done – researched, taught, written about Japan as an anthropologist — has only been possible because of the kindness and patience of many thousands of Japanese who have been willing to talk with an inquisitive stranger and allow me to learn about their lives and communities (not to mention their food)!
I am grateful to the many Japanese people who have befriended me over past five decades.
I would also like to thank Millie Creighton who very kindly nominated me for this award.
Thank you all very much!