Dr. Dorothea Mladenova

Dr. Dorothea Mladenova

Research Fellow

Schillerstraße 6, Room S 308
04109 Leipzig

Phone: +49 341 97 - 37133
Fax: +49 341 97 - 37159


Dorothea Mladenova studied Japanese Studies, Bulgarian Studies and Sociology at the University of Leipzig and at Chiba University in Japan. Her MA thesis dealt with the globalization and national branding of Japanese food culture. In 2012 she was awarded the Wolfgang Natonek Prize for outstanding academic achievements and social commitment by the Association of Sponsors and Friends of the University of Leipzig.

Since 2013 Ms. Mladenova has been working as a research assistant at the University of Leipzig. In 2019 she defended her doctoral project entitled: "On the Optimized Demise of the Entrepreneurial Self - shūkatsu (終活) in Japan". She is dedicated to critical research on Japan.

In 2016 she was a scholarship holder at the German Institute for Japanese Studies Tōkyō and in 2019 at Ritsumeikan University Kyōtō.

The student initiative Japan Alumni Association Leipzig (JAAL), which she founded in 2009, takes care of exchange students from Japan.

Professional career

  • since 03/2013
    Research Fellow at the East Asian Institute, Japanology, University of Leipzig
  • 09/2012 - 02/2013
    Head of the Europe Direct Information Center at Europa-Haus Leipzig e.V.


  • 03/2013 - 07/2019
    Doctorate (Dr. phil.) at the Faculty of History, Art and Oriental Studies at the University of Leipzig
  • 10/2004 - 08/2012
    Master's degree in Japanese Studies, Bulgarian Studies and Sociology at the University of Leipzig and at Chiba University, Japan
  •  Food Studies
  •  Sociology of Death and Dying/ Thanatosociology
  •  Governmentality Studies
  •  Cultural Studies
  •  Discourse Theory
  •  Qualitative Research
  • Mladenova, D.
    Platformization in the Funeral Industry. The Case of Online Funeral Discounters
    In: Picard, M.; Yoshida, H.; Roth, M. (Eds.)
    Japan's Contemporary Media Culture between Local and Global. Content, Practice and Theory. Heidelberg: CrossAsia-eBooks. 2021. pp. 41–64.
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  • Mladenova, D.
    „Sushi global“: Zwischen J­-branding und kulinarischem Nationalismus
    In: Chiavacci, D.; Wieczorek, I. (Eds.)
    Japan 2013 - Politik, Wirtschaft, Gesellschaft. Berlin: Vereinigung für sozialwissenschaftliche Japanforschung e.V.. 2013. pp. 275–297.
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  • Mladenova, D.
    Selbstoptimierung bis in den Tod. Aktive Lebensendplanung in Japan
    Bielefeld: transcript. 2023.
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  • Mladenova, D.
    The Statue of Peace in Berlin: How the Nationalist Reading of Japan’s Wartime “Comfort Women” Backfired
    The Asia-Pacific Journal, Japan Focus. 2022. 20 (4).
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  • Mladenova, D.
    Shi no serufu manejimento – ‚shūkatsu’ ni okeru neoriberaru na shutai. 死のセルフマネジメント―「終活」におけるネオリベラルな主体. [Selbstmanagement des Todes – das neoliberale Subjekt der ‚shūkatsu‘–Praxis]. Übers. v. Saitō Motoki 齋藤元紀.
    In: Tsuyoshi, K.; Yasushi, K. (Eds.)
    尊厳と社会(下),法政大学出版局. 2020. pp. 216–262.
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more publications

At BA level, I teach Introduction to Japanese Studies (2nd semester) and Cultural Studies (3rd semester).

At MA level, I introduce discourse analysis and governmentality theory using selected current examples.

Selected topics: "Comfort Women", Nantoka-katsu なんとか活 (Technologies of the Self), Mu’enshakai 無縁社会, Individualization, The Demographic Discourse, Ageing Society, Gender Studies

  • Introduction to Japanese Studies (BA)

    Systematic introduction to academic writing (research, databases, transcription, citation, avoidance of plagiarism, writing and reading techniques) as well as to society, politics, and the history of the field of Japanese Studies. Every summer term.

  • Culture, Identity, Power: Introduction to theories of Cultural Studies (BA)

    Introduction to structuralism and post-structuralism as well as semiotic and discourse analytical methods. The students then apply the concepts and methods in a presentation on a chosen topic from the fields of gender, age(ing), nationalism, tourism, food, etc..

  • Small Statue, Big Impact: "Comfort Women" and Coming to Terms with the Past in Japan (BA)

    The "Peace Statue" by the artists Kim Seo-kyung and Kim Eun-sung causes a scandal wherever it is erected, for example at the Aichi Triennale 2019. Why does a small statue cause such a stir? Starting from the statue, we approach the problem of the so-called "comfort women" and classify the phenomenon against the background of coming to terms with the past, historical revisionism and memory politics. We further discuss the question of prostitution from a feminist perspective.

  • Mu'enshakai 無縁社会 - isolation, loneliness, individualization (MA)

    (with Axel Rüdiger)

    In 2010, an NHK documentary coined the term mu'enshakai (無縁社会) to refer to negative effects of demographic change. First, we show the change of "mu'en" from a positive connotation in pre-modern times to the negative one in modern times (Ikegami). Using the theories of Second/Reflexive Modernity (Beck, Giddens), we consider individualization from a sociological perspective. Finally, we turn to a critique of the theories (Bourdieu) and discuss how this applies to Japan.

  • Nantoka-katsu なんとか活 - the emergence of media trends and the formation of a model consumer subject (MA)

    Drawing on governmentality and subjectification research, we turn to a range of technologies of the self in Japan: from shūkatsu 就活 (job search) to konkatsu 婚活 (dating), ninkatsu 妊活 (pregnancy planning), and shūkatsu 終活 (end-of-life preparation) to onkatsu 温活 (keeping-warm activities).

  • The Demographic Discourse in Japan - Coping with the Superaging Society // Sociology of Knowledge Approach to Discourse Analysis: Modes of Subjectification of Work in Japan (MA)

    (with Felix Jawinski)

    Introduction to the  Sociology of Knowledge Approach to Discourse Analysis (Reiner Keller) and its application to the topics of demographic change and workers in nuclear power plants.

  • The Security Dispositif in Japan (MA)

    Whether security law, food safety and food security or social security: the concept of security appears in various contexts and refers to different conceptual histories. In this seminar, we will take a governmentality-theoretical approach to the dispositif of security in contemporary societies and compare it with other theories of security, such as the Copenhagen securitization school.