Robert Buscher

Rob Buscher is a film and media specialist, educator, arts administrator, and published author who has held leadership roles in non-profit arts organizations for over a decade. As a person of biracial Japanese American heritage who is deeply involved in his community, Rob also has an expertise in cultural sensitivity training, community organizing, and advocacy issues related to the Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.

Robʼs programming expertise is Japanese and AAPI Diasporic Cinema although he has worked as a professional film programmer, critic, and lecturer across a variety of fields. Some of his career highlights include growing Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival into an internationally recognized leader in the film festival circuit, developing the Japanese Cinema and Asian American Studies curriculum at Arcadia University, and co-founding Zipangu Fest - the United Kingdomʼs first Japanese Film Festival. 

Rob currently lectures at University of Pennsylvania, and is a contributing writer at Pacific Citizen. Rob serves as President of the Philadelphia Chapter of civil rights group Japanese American Citizens League and is also a member of the Editorial Board of Pacific Citizen, the organization’s national newspaper. In his spare time, Rob is an accomplished guitarist and enjoys writing and performing music. 


Program Curation Highlights

A few recent highlights of Rob’s programming include a three-day film festival presented as part of the 2023 JACL National Convention in Little Tokyo Los Angeles, which highlighted Japanese American contributions to Hollywood cinema and independent Asian American film production. In April 2023, Rob curated a seven-film retrospective exploring the works of renowned Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune that screened at Philadelphia’s Lightbox Film Center on 35mm. One upcoming program is the October 2023 Tadaima Virtual Pilgrimage Online Film Festival (Rob previously curated their 2020 and 2021 editions). 

Past programs include Pearl Harbor National Memorial World War II Film Festival (2021-2022), the Artist Bash Salon Series 2017-2020 and 2016 APA Heritage Month Performance Showcase at The Barnes Foundation, 2015 Japanese film series accompanying the Kano School Exhibit at Philadelphia Museum of Art, and 2013 Japanese American film series during Free Library of Philadelphia’s One Book One Philadelphia program. 

Rob is the curator of a traveling exhibit on anti-Asian racial propaganda titled American Peril: Imagining the Foreign Threat that first debuted in 2018 at Twelve Gates Arts. The exhibit also showed at Philadelphia City Hall in Feb-March 2020 as part of the Art in City Hall Program, and is currently on loan to the Spurlock Museum at University of Illinois. During the pandemic, Rob curated a virtual exhibition titled The Third Space: Japanese Americans in Greater Philadelphia that launched in February 2022, sponsored by JACL Philadelphia Chapter. His latest curatorial effort is a multimedia installation at Shofuso Japanese House & Garden titled, Okaeri (Welcome Home): The Nisei Legacy at Shofuso, on-view through December 10, 2023. 


MA Japanese Studies with a Focus in Japanese Cinema School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

BA Communications with a Minor in Art, Design, and Media Richmond: The American International University in London

Certificate of Completion, Japanese Language Intermediate Level, Kyoto Institute of Culture and Language  

Research Interests

Japanese Modernity, US-Japan Relations, Japanese American Incarceration, Asian American Activism, Japanese Cinema, Asian American Cinema, Propaganda Studies, Critical Mixed Race Studies, Immigration Rights Movement, Transnational Cultural Movements, Asian American Food Culture

Courses Taught

ASAM 1300 Fighting for Representation: The Asian American Cinema Movement

Fall Semesters

ASAM 1520 Asian American Activism  

Spring Semesters

Selected Publications

"Okaeri (Welcome Home): The Nisei Legacy at Shofuso" 

"The Third Space: Japanese American Resettlement in Greater Philadelphia"

PBS WHYY "Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders: A Philadelphia Story"

Podcast Series "Look Toward the Mountain: Stories From Heart Mountain Incarceration Camp" 

"The Untold History of Asian Americans in Early Hollywood"

"Japanese Americans: A Philadelphia Story"

"How COVID-19 Disrupted the Black-White Binary"

"Charlottesville and the Legacy of White Supremacy"

"Turandot: Time to Call it Quits on Orientalist Opera?"


Chapter President - Japanese American Citizens League Philadelphia Chapter

Editorial Board Member - Pacific Citizen, the JACL's national newspaper