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Ramsey Ismail

Ramsey Ismail
  • Social Sciences Building, Room 210 9500 Gilman Drive #0532 La Jolla, CA 92093-0532
Ramsey is a 5th year Psych/Med/Sociocultural Anthropology student who is interested in the intersections of gender, labor, and mental health in Japan. His fieldwork explores how social upheavals, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, have reconfigured notions of mental health and illness, as well as the experiences of folks during these periods of upheaval. He is also interested in how mental health categories are applied and experienced across global contexts, and social constructions of illness.

During pre-fieldwork, Ramsey volunteered at New Start, a non-profit organization in Tokyo that provides vocational training and reintroduces hikikomori, socially reclusive Japanese people into society. In the past, Ramsey has worked on March 11th tsunami recovery efforts in Iwate Prefecture, surveys of homeless populations in Tokyo, and continues to volunteer regularly with various community service organizations in Japan.

Research Interests: Labor, Mental Health, Hikikomori, Experiences of Mental Illness, Global Mental Health, Categories, Social Construction of Illness

2021 - Fulbright Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship     

2021 - National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (NSF-DDRIG)                             

2021 - Japan Foundation Japanese Studies Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship                                 

2021 - UCSD Joseph Naiman Research Fellowship in Japanese Studies (Re-awarded)                             

2021 - George Haydu Paper Prize for the Anthropological Study of Culture, Behavior, and Human Values

2019 - UCSD Joseph Naiman Research Fellowship in Japanese Studies (Re-awarded)                                         

2019 - Stanford University IUC Japanese Language Institute - Nippon Foundation Fellowship     

2018 -  National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF-GRFP)     


2017 - Joseph Naiman Research Fellowship in Japanese Studies


2017 - Critical Language Scholarship - Japanese


2016 - UCSD Jerri-Ann and Gary E. Jacobs Endowed Fellowship


2016 - Melford Spiro Research Fellowship

Ismail, Ramsey. “New Starts at New Start: Recovery and the Work of Hikikomori.”

Transcultural Psychiatry,
vol. 57,  no. 5, Oct. 2020, pp. 698–709. (Crossref), doi:10.1177/1363461520958337.


2020 -  From Stigma to Senpai: Changing Perceptions of Mental Health in COVID-19 Quarantine

Keio University Medical Humanities Seminar led by Junko Kitanaka – Tokyo, Japan

2020 -  New Starts at New Start: Recovery and the Work of Hikikomori                                                 
Stanford University Department of Anthropology Brown Bag Forum – Palo Alto, California

2019 - Good Economy, Bad Day: Contextualizing Mental Health in Japan                                               

2019-  UCSD Communicating Experiences: Design, Health, and Wellness Workshop Series – San Diego, California

2019- Labor, Gender, and Aging: Directions for Medical Anthropology Research in Japan                                 

2019 -  IES Tokyo Summer Program Weekly Lecture Series – Tokyo, Japan


2021 -   Gender, Age, Global Recognition: Directions in Hikikomori Research                                           

UCSD Anthropology Graduate Student Association – Virtual Annual Conference

2021 -  “The Best-Laid Plans: Adapting Research to COVID-19”                                                           

Society for Psychological Anthropology – Virtual Annual Conference

2020 -    “We Were All Hikikomori This Year” – Doing Fieldwork During a Pandemic                                 

UCSD Department of Anthropology – Critical Anthropology Workshop

2020 -    Hikikomori or NEET? Categorizing “Recovery” in Tokyo, Japan                                                 

UCSD Science Studies Program Student Speaker Workshop – San Diego, CA

2019 - ジェンダー、労働、老化:これからの引きこもり研究                                                         

Stanford University IUC Center for Japanese Studies Annual Scholarly Conference – Yokohama, Japan

2019 -    ニュースタートで、ニュースタートを!引きこもり研究の紹介                                             

Japan Foundation Scholars Annual Conference – Tokyo, Japan

2018 - Hikikomori or NEET? Untangling Expectations of Non-Workers in Japan                           

UCLA/ UCSD Annual Merbear Conference in Psychological Anthropology – Los Angeles, CA

2018 -   Visibilizing the Invisible: Navigating Hikikomori Experiences                                           

UC Berkeley Japan Studies – Rethinking Labor: Work and Livelihood in Japan – Berkeley, CA

2018 -   Visible Cases, Invisibilized Labor: Rethinking Hikikomori                                   

Madness Afield: Rethinking Psychiatry and Mental Illness in the Field – UC Irvine

2017 - Social Withdrawal as Socioeconomic: Labor, Livelihood, and Diagnosis in Japan

UC Berkeley Center for Japan Studies Annual Conference - Berkeley, California

2017 - Social Recluses Back to Work: Reframing Labor and Mental Health in Japan

UC Irvine Madness Afield Workshop - Irvine, California

2017 - Not Working, Working From Home, The Work of Hikikomori

American Association of Anthropologists Annual Conference - Washington D.C.