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Photo of Dr Iza Kavedžija

Dr Iza Kavedžija

Senior Lecturer (Anthropology)

Amory 318

Office: Amory 318

Iza Kavedžija is a Senior Lecturer in Anthropology. Her research interests include meaning in life, motivation, life choices, wellbeing, aging and the life course. She specializes in the anthropology of Japan, and her doctoral research, at the University of Oxford, examined the construction of meaning in life and the experience of aging among older people in Osaka. Highlighting the capacity of narrative to shape everyday understandings and create coherence from seemingly unconnected events, this work sought to reveal how people come to envisage a good life for themselves while making sense of their life choices and decisions in relation to wider social or cultural expectations, such as balancing obligations to others and cultivating a sense of personal autonomy. A monograph based on this work, entitled 'Making Meaningful Lives: Tales from an Aging Japan', has been published recently by the University of Pennsylvania Press.

An ongoing research project, begun in 2013, examines practices of contemporary art production among a community of young avant-garde artists in the city of Osaka, focusing on the relationship between personal experiences of the creative process and wider issues of freedom and responsibility, motivation and uncertainty, ethics, and life purpose. Related current projects deal with hope and hopelessness in contemporary Japan, and anthropological approaches to happiness.

Iza is a Principal Investigator on an AHRC funded Leadership Fellowship project The Work of Art in Contemporary Japan: Inner and outer worlds of creativity


Books and edited volumes

Kavedžija, Iza, ed. (2020). The Ends of Life: Time and meaning in the later yearsSpecial issue of Anthropology and Aging 41 (2). 

Kavedžija, Iza, ed. (2020). Decameron Relived. Fictions, Fieldsights.

Kavedžija, Iza (2019). Making Meaningful Lives: Tales from an aging Japan.  Contemporary Ethnography Series. University of Pennsylvania Press.

Kavedžija, Iza and Walker, Harry, eds. (2016). Values of Happiness: Toward an Anthropology of Purpose in Life. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Kavedžija, Iza, ed. (2016). Ethnographies of Hope in Contemporary Japan. Special issue of Contemporary Japan 28(1).

Kavedžija, Iza and Walker, Harry, eds. (2015). Happiness: Horizons of Purpose (Special Issue). HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 5(3).

Articles and book chapters  

Kavedžija, Iza. (2020). An attitude of gratitude: Older Japanese in the hopeful present. Special issue of the Anthropology and Aging Ends of Life: Time and meaning in the later years, edited by Iza Kavedžija. 41 (2): 59-71. 

Kavedžija, Iza. (2020). Introduction: Ends of Life: Time and meaning in the later years. Special issue of the Anthropology and Aging Ends of Life: Time and meaning in the later years, edited by Iza Kavedžija. 41(2): 1-8. 

Kavedžija, Iza. (2020). Communities of care and zones of abandonment in ‘super-aged’ Japan. In Jay Sokolovky (ed.) Cultural Contexts of Aging. Worldwide perspectives. (4th updated edition). Preager: Westport (Connecticut), 211-230.  

Kavedžija, Iza. (2019). “I move my hand and then I see it”: Sensing and knowing with young artists in Japan. Special issue of the Asian Anthropology Feeling (in) Japan: Affective, Sensory and Material Entanglements in the Field, edited by Andrea de Antoni and Emma Cook 18 (3) 222-237.

Kavedžija, Iza. (2019). Poetry First Prize (tie). Anthropology and Humanism. 44(1):169-170.

Kavedžija, Iza. (2019). Learning discomfort: A ‘good enough teacher’ and teaching through challenge. Special issue of the Teaching Anthropology Creativity and Controversy. Vol 8(1).

Kavedžija, Iza. (2019). Gratitude. In Anthropocene Unseen: A Lexicon. Edited by Cymene Howe and Anand Pandian. Punctum Books. In Press. 

Kavedžija, Iza. (2018). Of manners and hedgehogs: Building closeness by maintaining distance. In Moralities of care in later life. Special Issue of The Australian Journal of Anthropology 29(2): 147-157.

Kavedžija, Iza (2016). The age of decline? Anxieties about aging in JapanEthnos 81 (2): 214-237. (Published online  16/05/2014).

Kavedžija, Iza. (2016). Introduction: Reorienting Hopes. In Ethnographies of Hope in Contemporary Japan. Special issue of Contemporary Japan Journal 28(1).

Kavedžija, Iza (2015). The good life in balance: Insights from aging JapanHAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 5(3): 135-156.     

Walker, Harry and Kavedžija, Iza (2015). Values of HappinessHAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 5(3): 1-23.

Kavedžija, Iza (2015). Frail, independent, involved? Care and the category of the elderly  in JapanAnthropology and Aging 36(1): 62-81. ISSN 2374-2267.

Kavedžija, Iza (2011). Inside and outside the new global community: Human rights discourse in Japan and beyond. Ethnological Forum [Etnoloska Tribina] 41(34):127-151.

Kavedžija, Iza (2008). Invisible Others: Buraku and modern Japanese literature. [Nevidljivi Drugi. Buraku i moderna japanska književnost]. Ethnological Forum [Etnoloska Tribina] 38(31):81-91.




Dr. Iza Kavedzija on Happiness and Ikigai – Insights From Ageing JapanPodcast by Nick Kemp. 020January 10, 2021

On stories in the pandemic. Stories are 'soul-fire'. CBS Interview (and Podcast), November 13, 2020. 

Beyond Japan Ep. #14: ‘Super-Aged’ Japan with Dr Iza Kavedžija, Centre for Japanese Studies, Sainsbury Institute and the University of East Anglia (Interview by Oliver Moxham, Podcast)

Social care Japanese style – what we can learn from the world’s oldest population, The Conversation, May 2018

The Japanese concept of ikigai: why purpose might be a better goal than happiness, The Conversation, 14 December 2017

Eikoku News DigestInterview in Japanese, 15 September 2016 vol.1467  

Research supervision

Iza welcomes applications from students interested in anthropology,  perticularly on the topics related to wellbeing, older age, narrative, emotions and affect, hope, happiness, anthropology of art, creativity, or pertaining to regions of Japan and Eastern Europe. 

Please email Iza if you are interested in doing a PhD (or Masters by Research). For more information about our graduate programmes, funding opportunities and how to apply please see here

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