I swear original posts ARE coming. If only there weren’t all these distractions…
Reading time: 4 minutes. Image source: Photo by Fausto García-Menéndez on Unsplash
First, on Thursday 8 December at 10:00 Korean Time, Jackie Kim-Wachutka (Ritsumeikan University) will be talking about her book Zainichi Korean Women in Japan: Voices. More information and registration available here and here:
Presenting the voices of a unique group within contemporary Japanese society—Zainichi women—this book provides a fresh insight into their experiences of oppression and marginalization that over time have led to liberation and empowerment. Often viewed as unimportant and inconsequential, these women’s stories and activism are now proving to be an integral part of both the Zainichi Korean community and Japanese society.
Featuring in-depth interviews from 1994 to the present, three generations of Zainichi Korean women—those who migrated from colonial Korea before or during WWII and the Asia-Pacific War and their Japan-born descendants—share their version of history, revealing their lives as members of an ethnic minority. Discovering voices within constricting patriarchal traditions, the women in this book are now able to tell their history. Ethnography, interviews, and the women’s personal and creative writings offer an in-depth look into their intergenerational dynamics and provide a new way of exploring the hidden inner world of migrant women and the different ways displacement affects subsequent generations.
This book goes beyond existing Anglophone and Japanese literatures, to explore the lives of Zainichi Korean women in Japan.
Next, also on Thursday 8 December, at 19:00 Korean Time, Gavin Campbell (Doshisha University) will present a Modern Japan History Workshop titled Modern Girl, Modern Geisha: Interwar Popular Entertainment and the Geisha of Kyoto. The Zoom link is https://u-tokyo-ac-jp.zoom.us/j/82336610079, and the password will be available here from December 5:
In 1927 a new building cast long shadows over the tiled roofs and narrow alleys of Kyoto’s Pontocho geisha district. Four stories framed by steel girders and clad with fashionable yellow bricks, the building dwarfed tea houses of wood, tile and paper. Inspecting it from across the river, an observer would have quite naturally wondered how much longer Pontocho’s narrow streets would echo the shamisen’s twang, the geisha’s song, and the quiet rustling of kimono over candle-lit tatami mats.
But in fact Pontocho geisha were thrilled. After all, they were the ones who had built this startlingly modern kaburenjo as a multi-purpose entertainment hall. It housed a large theater to showcase their district’s annual “Kamogawa odori,” it gave geisha and their maiko apprentices space for classrooms, and it boasted a large hall the public could rent out for dances, banquets or other fun. This new kaburenjo, then, was one prominent way Pontocho’s geisha adapted to a rapidly changing popular entertainment landscape.
Scholars of interwar Japanese culture have largely overlooked geisha in favor of department stores, cafes, and movie palaces, and the cabaret dancers, actresses and “modern girls” that all seemed to be making the geisha obsolete. Focusing on Kyoto’s Pontocho geisha district, this paper instead argues that geisha creatively adapted to new forms of mass spectacle and popular entertainment. Geisha are, in short, a fascinating and overlooked constituent in the emergence of “the modern.”
Then, on Monday 12 December from 20:00 to 21:30 Korean Time, Katrien Jacobs (Chinese University of Hong Kong and Ghent University) will lead a Centre for Research on Culture and Gender lunch seminar titled Tit-for-Tat Media and the Hong Kong Meltdown, (register and more info; Facebook event) in which she will discuss:
…a polarization in social media discourses and sexual politics in the field of online activism. Political activists across the political spectrum are using online visual cultures as “extreme speech” to target each other and as a mechanism of emotional release and social cohesion. The talk will zoom in on the role of sex-focused visuals used during the Hong Kong Anti-Extradition movement of 2019 and coinciding with “a highly radicalized “laam chau” doctrine. (“If we burn, you will burn with us”). It will outline the wider techno-political contexts of these visuals and also make a plea for archiving and studying them despite their highly contentious and “rubbish-like” nature. It will discuss research methods of “historicizing” and “humanizing” this imagery by positioning them as catalysts for radicalized movements, geo-political transformations and sexual well-being. At the same time, it will ponder a shift in a researcher’s methods of online ethnography from open and affective encounters or observations towards a cautious handling of highly polarized and politicized materials.
Finally, on Friday 16 December from 17:30 to 19:00 Korean Time, Dr. Alisa Freedman (University of Oregon) will give a talk titled Japan on American TV: An Alternate History of US Fascinations and Fears of Japan. More information and registration available here and here:
This talk explores political, economic, and cultural issues underlying depictions of Japan on US television comedies and the programs they have inspired. Since the start of regular broadcasting in the 1950s, US television programs have taken the role of “curators” of Japan, displaying and explaining selected aspects for viewers. Beliefs in US hegemony over Japan underpin this curation process. Drawing from my book Japan on American TV, I will take a historical perspective to understand the diversity of TV parodies about Japan and show how these programs reflect changing patterns of cultural globalization and perpetuate national stereotypes while verifying Japan’s international influence. I will suggest strategies for using TV comedies as research and teaching tools to gently approach racism, cultural essentialism, cultural appropriation, and other issues otherwise difficult discuss. Television presents an alternative history of American fascinations with and fears of Japan.
If you reside in South Korea, you can donate via wire transfer: Turnbull James Edward (Kookmin Bank/국민은행, 563401-01-214324)