Donna Weeks

‘What is the point of studying international relations?’ I was once asked by a persistent parent on behalf of their daughter, a prospective student, at a university open day. ‘If my daughter studies medicine, she can find the cure for cancer, something useful!’ ‘Well yes’, I responded, ‘and if she studies international relations, she can find a way to make the world a peaceful place and find a cure to why mankind opts for war’.

I don’t know whether or not my response convinced that parent but that reflexive defense of my profession on that day spoke to me perhaps even more than I had intended. Relations between Australia and Japan have been a prominent part of my student and professional life. I examine how two countries, once allies, then enemies, now partners can work together on the international stage. In my work, I seek the realisation of a ‘security community’, a place on the international stage where states can coexist with dependable expectations of peaceful change, not war—a place where anger, distrust, hate and killing are no longer automatic responses. In my most recent work with Kumi Kato, we are extending this concept to the whaling/anti-whaling arena.

‘Peaceful space’ manifests itself in other ways too as I visit Japan and live in Australia—the quiet gardens just metres behind the noise and excitement of hundreds of tourists at the statue of the Kamakura Buddha; trying to emulate Buddhist chants on my bass clarinet as the full moon rises; responding to the calls of the pale-headed parrot in my backyard. I soon realise my ‘peaceful space’ dissolves the vacuum between my personal and professional lives.

Bio: Donna Weeks is Lecturer in Japanese Studies and International Relations at the University of the Sunshine Coast. Her areas of expertise include International Relations, Japanese politics and foreign policy and Australia-Japan relations. She has taught language and politics at the University of Queensland and Griffith University, and held appointments as Project Officer in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and research officer for a Queensland Senator. She has enjoyed extended periods in Japan as a graduate research student at Daito Bunka University Tokyo (Law Faculty), the University of Tokyo Graduate School and Visiting Research Fellow at Waseda University. An active member of the Brisbane community music scene, she is compiling a story based on recollections of past members of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra

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