John Ostermiller

Graduate Student


Current status: Ph.D. (ABD)

Ph.D. dissertation title: Between piety and popularity: cultural code-switching and Muslim migrant communities in Japan

M.A. thesis title: Currents of Consumption: How National Narratives of Japanese Cuisine Collide with Localized Forms of Sushi in Northern California

John Ostermiller is an anthropologist of Japan, Islam, and migration whose work examines the challenges, experiences, and strategies that ethnic and religious minorities encounter in “secular” non-western societies. As a Ph.D. candidate in the Anthropology Department at the University of Nevada, Reno, his dissertation investigates how a diverse community of Muslim migrants in Shizuoka, Japan, work, worship, and thrive in Japanese society.
Prior to coming to the University of Nevada, Reno, John completed his B.A. in anthropology at CSU Sacramento, where he participated in the “Hiroshima and Peace” program in 2012. John completed his Masters in Asia-Pacific Studies at the University of San Francisco, where he was a guest of the Japanese Ministry oaf Foreign as a Kakehashi visiting scholar in 2017. His Masters research focused on the divergence between national narratives of Japanese cuisine and how Japanese culture and food are interpreted and consumed in Northern California communities.
As a doctoral candidate at the University of Nevada, Reno, John has earned a graduate certificate in the Gender, Race, and Identity program, and received fellowships and awards from the Department of Anthropology, Ozmen Institute for Global Studies, Nevada System of Higher Education University Regents and the UNR Dean of Graduates. At UNR John teaches multiple courses as a graduate instructor. These courses include Introduction to Cultural Anthropology; Peoples and Cultures of the World; Magic, Witchcraft, and Religion; and the Anthropology of Islam. He is currently the project lead for the UNR Foodways Project, a mixed methods project that seeks to improve university services and enhance students’ campus experiences by better understanding students’ dining habits and access to food on campus.
​John’s dissertation research has received funding from the following sources: Kobe College Corporation-Japan Education Exchange Fellowship; Wenner-Gren Dissertation Fieldwork Grant; the Cultural and Linguistic Anthropology Promise Award from the Department of Anthropology and the Ozmen Institute for Global Studies Research Grant at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Academic interests

  • Migrant Muslim communities in Japan
  • Secularism and religion (Islam)
  • Cosmetic multiculturalism and semi-citizenship
  • Minorities, migration, and marginalization
  • Japan and the Asia-Pacific region
  • Media and popular culture

Selected publications


  • M.A., Asia-Pacific studies, University of San Francisco, 2018
  • B.A., anthropology, California State University Sacramento, 2013