Photo of Michael Fisch
Michael Fisch PhD, Columbia University, 2008

2021-2022 Fulbright Scholar -- Sabbatical Research in Japan

2021-2022 Recipient of National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Grant
Office: Phone: Email Interests:

Technology/nature/culture; cybernetic ontologies; infrastructure and design; Japan anthropology; biomimicry; experimental ecologies; urban theory.

Associate Professor of Anthropology and of Social Sciences in the College

Michael Fisch’s research is situated at the intersection of sociocultural anthropology and science and technology studies and is concerned with the dynamic between changing conceptualizations of nature, culture, and technological innovation that inform experiences of immersive technological mediation. In his work Anthropology of the Machine: Tokyo’s Commuter Train Network, he develops an ethnographically performative approach for thinking with the historically inflected practices, experiences, and schemas of operation that emerge within Tokyo’s commuter train network. He is currently developing a project that explores the emergence of what he identifies as “experimental ecologies” that work to contest, recast, and re-conceive disaster infrastructure design in post-3.11 Japan. As part of this project, he is looking at locally developed alternatives to the construction of mammoth seawalls to protect against tsunami in northeast Japan. 


Recent Research / Recent Publications

Selected Publications


An Anthropology of the Machine: Tokyo's Commuter Train Network. University of Chicago Press. (Preface and Intro)

 n.b.      Interaction: Digitalizing Organisms at the Japanese Living Zoo. Chapter in Digital Animalities: Media Representations of Nonhuman Life in the Age of Risk.

Japan’s Extreme Infrastructure: Fortress-ification, Resilience, and Extreme Nature." Social Science Japan Journal. 2022

Staging Encounters with the End in Pre-Apocalyptic-Post- 3.11 Japan. Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology. 2021

"Revisiting a State of Nature: An Anthropological Encounter with Multispecies Science Fiction."  NATURECULTURE VOL.5. 2019

Michael Fisch and Erez Golani, Resituating the Place of Living and Non-Living in Contemporary Urban Japan. Scapegoat Journal of Architecture/Landscape/Political Economy. Winter 2017/Spring 2018 Issue 11-Life. 

Meditations on the Unthinkable (soteigai). In Erez Golani Solomon, Editor. The Space of Disaster. Tel-Aviv, Resling Publishing.


Regenerating Bodies: Unbinding Rights within Ecologies of Process. Science, Technology, & Human Values.

The Nature of Biomimicry: Toward a Novel Technological Culture. Science, Technology & Human Values.


Remediating Infrastructure: Tokyo’s Commuter Train Network and the New Autonomy. Infrastructure and Social Compexity: A Routledge Companion, ed. Penny Harvey, Casper Bruun Jensen & Atsuro Morita 2015

“Days of Love and Labor”: Remediating the Logic of Labor and Debt in Contemporary Japan. Positions: Asia Critique. 23(3).2013

Tokyo's Commuter Train Suicides and the Society of Emergence. Cultural Anthropology, May 2013, vol. 28:12.2010

Ringu/The Ring: Tracing the Analog Spirit in a Digital Era. Refractory: A Journal of Entertainment Media. July 18, 2010.

War by Metaphor in Densha otoko. MECHADEMIA 4: WAR/TIME (November 2009): 131-146.

Murakami Haruki’s Sputnik Sweetheart: Technology, (Mis)communication and the ‘Other Side’. Japan Forum. 16(3): 361-383.

Resistance in the IDF: An Instance of Social Transformation in Israel. Israel Studies Forum, 19(2): 108-126.

The Rise of the Chapel Wedding in Japan: Simulation and Performance. Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, 28 (1-2): 57-76.