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Kunsthistorisches Institut

International Symposium: Heidi from Japan

International Symposium Heidi from Japan: Anime, Narratives, and Swiss Receptions (29-31 August 2019)

General information

The symposium will take place on 

Thursday, 29th August 2019  

  • University of Zurich, room  HAH-E-11 (Häldeliweg 2, 8044 Zurich)

Friday, 30th August 2019

  • National Museum (Landesmuseum) in the Willy G.S. Hirzel Auditorium (Museumsstrasse 2, 8001 Zurich)
  • University of Zurich, room RAA-G-01 (Rämistrasse 59, 8001 Zurich)

On Saturday, 31st August 2019 there will be an excursion for speakers, panel chairs and invited guests only. 

The symposium is free and open to the public, no prior registration is necessary. 

Presentations will be held in German, in Japanese and in English. Translations in English will be shown simultaneously for presentations in Japanese. 

For questions, please contact the Section for East Asian Art:

Symposium abstract

A Japanese anime seriesアルプスの少女ハイジ Arupusu no shōjo Haiji. (English: Heidi, Girl of the Alps) was created in 1974 by Isao Takahata, Hayao Miyazaki and others and became an international hit during the following decades. Not only was the anime phenomenally popular in Japan, but it has since been shown in dozens of other countries and dubbed into many different languages.  

The images and ideas of the Japanese anime were based not only on Johanna Spyri's original Heidi books but also on actual images of Switzerland, gathered through travels in Switzerland in 1973 by a four-man Japanese production team: the first time that this experiment was attempted. 

The anime became so popular across the world that it has successfully become a symbol of Switzerland and its inhabitants and has brought forth strong yet differentiated reactions, depending on background and nationality of audiences. It has become the lens through which many people across the world see Swiss culture. 

The symposium and its accompanying museum exhibition will deal with a number of key issues, including the problems of inter-cultural transfer and cultural appropriation, the roles of an imagined and idealized Switzerland, the receptions of Switzerland across the globe, the use of Heidi as an advertising tool, and the power of the visual medium.  The anime Heidi a case study of how popular literature can impact, not only individual and collective memories, but also the imaginations of world-wide audiences.