Hands of a Goze: The Tactile Culture of Visually-impaired People in Modern Japan

Hands of a Goze: The Tactile Culture of Visually-impaired People in Modern Japan

Kojiro Hirose - Associate Professor, School of Cultural & Social Studies, Graduate University for Advanced Studies (Osaka); Associate Professor, Department of Cultural Research, National Museum of Ethnology (Japan); Visiting Scholar, University of Chicago

Monday, February 10, 2014 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm
Room 105, Anthropology See map
10 Sachem Street
New Haven, CT 06511

A Goze refers to a blind female musician who traveled around Japan with shamisen (Japanese plucked stringed instrument). After the World War II, with the expansion of the welfare service for the disabled and the enhancement of education in schools for the blind, the culture of Gozes came to be recognized as the relics of the pre-modern times and the fact that there is no successor for it is also considered as the inevitabilities of history. With the passing of Haru Kobayashi (1900-2005), who was known as the last Goze, the culture of Gozes that had been maintained by visually-impaired people disappeared from Japanese society in the 21st century. However, is it acceptable that the Goze culture be forgotten completely? Hirose will focus on the hands of a Goze and approach the relevance and the possibility of the Goze culture from three different angles: touching the sound, touching the color, and touching the heart.  Taking a hint from the Goze uta (Goze folk songs) which Gozes created and spread as their own oral traditions, Hirose intends to clarify the role that the tactile culture of the visually impaired should play in today’s society.

Kojiro Hirose is an associate professor at the National Museum of Ethnology in Osaka, Japan. He is concurrently appointed an associate Professor at School of Cultural and Social Studies, the Graduate University for Advanced Studies. He received his Ph.D (Japanese religious history) from Kyoto University in 2000. He is now staying in Chicago as a visiting scholar at the East Asian Language and Civilizations Department, the University of Chicago.