Photo of Dr Iza Kavedžija

Dr Iza Kavedžija

Lecturer (Anthropology)

Amory 318

Office: Amory 318

Office Hours in Term I: Mondays 12-13h and Fridays 13-14h

Iza Kavedžija is a 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', is forthcoming in July 2019 with 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.



Books and edited volumes

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

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. (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. (Early view).

Kavedžija, Iza (2016). The age of decline? Anxieties about aging in Japan. Ethnos 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 Happiness. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 5(3): 1-23.

Kavedžija, Iza (2015). Frail, independent, involved? Care and the category of the elderly  in Japan. Anthropology 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.



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 Digest, Interview 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 me if you are interested in doing a PhD (or MA by Research). For more information about our graduate programmes, funding opportunities and how to apply please see here

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