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Dr Irene González-López

  • Overview



    Irene González-López joined Birkbeck in 2021 as Lecturer in Japanese Studies. She is also research associated at Kingston University. Previously, she has taught at SOAS, David Game College, Aichi Kenritsu University, and Kyoto University.

    Before pursuing her PhD at SOAS, Irene lived in Japan for over seven years. There she completed a BA in Japanese Studies and MA in Film Studies. During that time, she also learnt ikebana (flower arrangement) and shodō (calligraphy), and her professional experience ranged from factory  and waitress in a snack-bar, to interpreter and university lecturer. All these experiences nurtured her understanding of Japanese society and have become an endless source of inspiration for her research. 

    Her research mainly focuses on issues related to gender and sexuality in postwar Japanese cinema, exploring the interaction between cinema and dominant narratives in society and analysing how gender and sexuality are constructed both in front and behind the camera. Irene has written extensively about the representation of sex work in Japanese cinema, as well as about Japanese female directors. She has also written about contemporary Japanese manga and art.

    She is co-editor of Tanaka Kinuyo: Nation, Stardom, and Female Subjectivity (Edinburgh University Press, 2018), and of The Art of Intervention (Routledge, 2022), and has published in various journals including Film StudiesJournal of Japanese and Korean Cinema, and US-Japan Women’s Journal, of which she is a member of the Advisory Board. Irene is also part of the BFI Advisory Board for the Japan Film Season 2020-2021.


    • Co-organiser, "Japanese Documentary Filmmaker Haneda Sumiko: Authorship and Gender Discourses" (2021)

      A series of international symposia, film screenings, and publications around the work of Haneda Sumiko, one of the most prolific Japanese documentary filmmakers. Co-organised with Marcos Centeno, Alejandra Armendáriz-Hernández and Ricardo Matos, and in collaboration with several film festivals, including Open City Documentary Film Festival (London, 2021). Supported by Birkbeck School’s Strategic Research Fund, Japan Foundation, and Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation.

    • Co-editor, The Art of Intervention: Activism and Performance Art in Japan (Routledge, 2022)

      This edited volume explores various case studies of politically engaged contemporary Japanese performance art to reflect on the evolution of the relationship between art and activism in Japan during the last six decades. Co-edited with Fran Lloyd and Stephen Barber.

    • Co-editor, Tanaka Kinuyo: Nation, Stardom and Female Subjectivity. (Edinburgh University Press, 2018). 

      This is the first book in English dedicated to the actor and director Tanaka Kinuyo. Bringing together a range of Japanese and Western scholars, the book offers a new perspective on the Japanese studio system and stardom, interlaced with the national history and the history of women in Japan. Co-edited with Michael Smith.


    • PhD, SOAS, University of London
    • MA Film Studies, Kyoto University
    • BA Japanese Studies, Tenri University
    • BA Media Studies and Communication, Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca

    Administrative responsibilities

    • Programme Director, Japanese Studies with International Experience
    • Year Abroad (Japan) Coordinator
    • Exam Sub Board Chair, Japanese Studies


  • Research


    Research interests

    • Japanese CInema
    • Gender and Sexuality Studies
    • Representations of sex work in popular culture and media
    • Stardom and Authorship
    • Japanese female directors
    • Japanese Popular Culture
  • Supervision and teaching

    Supervision and teaching


    I welcome prospective PhD applicants in these areas:

    • Japanese Cinema, especially postwar era.
    • Gender and sexuality in Japan
    • Adaptations and Remakes 
    • Female Japanese film directors
    • Stardom in Japanese cinema
    • Cinematic imagination of the city


    Teaching modules

    • Reading Transnational Cultures (Level 5) (ARCL022S5)
    • Memory and History (ARCL065S7)
    • Interrogating the Self (ARCL066S7)
    • Culture and Crisis (Level 4) (ARCL124S4)
    • Extended Essay in Japanese Studies (ARCL129S6)
    • Theorising Japanese Cinema (ARMC093S5)
    • Manga and Anime (Level 6) (ARMC187S6)
    • Advanced Seminar in Japanese Culture and Society (ARMC203S6)
    • Rethinking Japan: Introduction to Modern Japanese Society and Culture (Level 4) (LNLN023S4)
    • Representations of Gender, Love, and Sexuality (Level 5) (LNLN024S5)
  • Publications




    Book Section

    • Gonzalez-Lopez, Irene and Smith, M. (2018) Introduction: Onna Monogatari. In: Gonzalez-Lopez, Irene and Smith, M. (eds.) Tanaka Kinuyo: nation, stardom and female subjectivity. Edinburgh Studies in East Asian Film. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 9781474431781.
    • Gonzalez-Lopez, Irene (2017) The profound desire of the goddess: sexuality and politics in 'The Insect Woman'. In: Torres Hortelano, L.J. (ed.) Dialectics of the goddess in Japanese audiovisual culture. Lanham, U.S.: Lexington Books. pp. 27-49. ISBN 9781498570145.
    • Gonzalez-Lopez, Irene (2016) Mizoguchi y los ultimos dias del barrio rojo. In: Méndez, A.L. (ed.) El Japon contemporaneo : una aproximacion desde los Estudios Culturales. Biblioteca de Japon. Barcelona, Spain: Bellaterra. pp. 105-126. ISBN 9788472907577.