Shimpei Cole Ota (太田心平) is an Associate Professor of Northeast Asian Ethnology at the National Institutes for the Humanities (NIHU) and a Research Associate of Anthropology at American Museum of Natural History.
Cole was born and raised in Osaka, Japan. He earned his PhD in sociocultural anthropology from Osaka University in 2007, after having completed an additional doctorate program in anthropology at Seoul National University (2000-2003). Before joining NIHU, he conducted his fieldwork in South Korea for seven years.
His research examines people's recognition of cultures. More specifically, he tries to explain how people and societies recognize their own cultural "change." What do the narratives and discourses of personal change and social shift epistemologically mean? He has pursued this question mainly through case studies of Korean political history and intellectual subculture. For example, his publications explore South Korean activists' recognition of Korean "democratization," and the cultural history of Korean scholar-bureaucrats from their descendants' point of view during the 17th to 19th centuries. He is the author of The Birth of Yangban: Korean Authentic Culture and Intellectual Culture in Modern Japan (forthcoming in Korean). Cole has also been conducting researches on Korean celadon ceramics and on oversea Koreans in Mainland China and United States.
Cole is based at the National Museum of Ethnology (NME or Minpaku), which is one of the research bases of NIHU. As a member of the museum staff, he has participated in the preparation committee for two special exhibitions on Japanese modern intellectuals: "Umesao Tadao: an Explorer for the Future" (2011 at NME; 2011-2012 at National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation) and "Shibusawa Keizo" (tentatively scheduled for 2013 at NME). Also he is working on the renewal of the permanent exhibition of NME's Korea Room (to be reopened in 2014).
He lives near Osaka with intervals in Ansan, Korea and in New York City, US.