CEAS Anthropology Colloquium Series

Event
Posted : October 15, 2015

Japanese food is edible soft power. From “global sushi” to the basics of the obentō lunch box, Japan’s food culture is (again) taking part in transforming the American diet. But in Japan, what is the engine of culinary innovation and arbiter of mass cultural taste? The answer may lie not in artisanal  Kansai kitchens or Tsukiji fish market stalls, but on the shelves of the corner konbini (convenience store) Konbini are a critical focal point of changing foodways in Japan. They are the 24-hour lunch counter for people on the go and a surrogate refrigerator for consumers seeking a bite of the...

Event
Posted : October 15, 2015

Take a wrong turn and show up late to an appointment in Japan and it is quite likely that someone will label you “hōkō onchi” (directionally tone-deaf). The term was coined in the late 1960s, and now hundreds of thousands of Japanese identify themselves as “hōkō onchi.” The term is much more widely used than any equivalent in English, and there is reason to believe that people accept the label who do not necessarily have more difficulty in way-finding than someone who rejects it. What, then, does the label mean? What explains its initial emergence and its current transformations? Roth suggest...

Event
Posted : October 15, 2015

Themes of love and sentimentalism pervade popular music globally.  In this talk, Yano suggests ways that we may critically examine these both at the general level, as well as at the historically, culturally, and nationally specific levels. The case study of postwar Japanese popular diva, Misora Hibari, engages with issues of affect, intimacy, nation, citizenship, and modernity. To these Yano adds the theme of transgression, of badness – engaging the Adorno critique of industrially produced pop music as inherently “bad,” shading “badness” into political and aesthetic divides of power, and...

Event
Posted : September 13, 2013
Event
Posted : September 13, 2013

Suicide prevention has become a major public health policy issue in Japan over the past decade due to extremely elevated suicide rates since 1998. Discourse in Japan on suicide prevention has nevertheless focused almost exclusively on the state of the Japanese economy and levels of mental illness, neglecting the subjective experience of suicidal individuals and the roles that meaning and positive mental health play in suicide and its prevention. Increasing evidence suggests that a lack of positive mental health may be more important than the presence of mental illness in predicting future...

Event
Posted : September 13, 2013

This paper summarizes the major arguments from my book Governing Educational Desire. The book examines the intensity of educational Desire in Shandong – parents nearly universally desire their children to attend university, families and local governments invest heavily in education, and competition at all education institutions is fierce – and asks what are the social, cultural, political and economic origins of this desire. It examines educational desire and its causes from four perspectives: as a local phenomenon, as a national phenomenon, as an East Asian phenomenon, and as a “...

Event
Posted : September 13, 2013

When Japan’s Women’s National soccer team—or “Nadeshiko Japan”—bested the greatly favored United States team in the World Cup Final in Frankfurt, Germany, it was just one of many “firsts” achieved by the skillful and inspiring team. It was the first time Japan had ever beaten the Americans in a total of twenty-six meetings stretching over two decades. It was also the first World Cup Championship for an Asian soccer team, women’s or men’s. Yet, despite this sense of novelty, much of the National Team’s success was thanks to Japanese corporations’ long-standing sponsorship of a semi-...

Event
Posted : September 13, 2013

ABSTRACT: This essay examines the importance of Chinese nation-building In the contemporary era. Defining nation-building in terms of processes that help to bridge local differences especially but not only when also distinguishing China from the rest the world, I argue that a focus on globalization has masked the importance of Chinese nation-building to contemporary social change. I analyze three very different societal arenas in which national forms of commonality are being constructed: the consolidation of the education system, the expansion of the urban built environment and the spread of...

Event
Posted : September 13, 2013

Louisa Schein has been at the forefront of developing media research and methods in anthropology. In this workshop, she talks about her projects, as reflected in and beyond two articles that shall be read beforehand. She introduces several of her approaches and topics, including itinerant ethnography; ethnotextual method; ethnography of production; ethnography of television, consumerism and promotional media; transnational media; celebrity and fandom. In the course of this interactive discussion, she makes a case for incorporating media themes into China research projects on topics as diverse...

Event
Posted : September 13, 2013

Images of rural Japan are dominated by insular villages engaged in irrigated rice cultivation. This presentation will offer a different perspective by focusing on the matagi—traditional hunters of bear and other animals in the beech forest uplands of northeastern Japan. ‘Hunter’ in this instance implies a sense of stewardship and an intimate understanding of the natural world. A key to success is mobility, not just in obtaining material resources, but in marketing them to communities that lie well outside the local area. Matagi attitudes toward the environment are symbolically enacted through...

Event
Posted : September 13, 2013

The Kubo community, home to about 80 people, was established by Japanese settlers early last century in the Brazilian forest. Since then it has remained an almost self-sufficient Japanese Brazilian commune. People farm in the day and practice modern ballet at night—an activity for which they have attained national fame and notoriety. In this presentation I will examine their dance performances as a manifestation of their cultural politics, ethnic capital, and ideology.Since its foundation, Kubo has been based on the philosophy of Nōhon-shugi, which teaches that an understanding of nature, can...

Event
Posted : September 13, 2013

In this exploratory talk, Professor Harrell will consider the possibility that although China is by any standard far from a gender-egalitarian society, that the basis of gender inequality has strayed so far from its traditional form that the term “patriarchy” is no longer applicable. Harrell presents a structural model of patriarchy and show how it has broken down with economic reforms, alterations of family structure, and rapidly changing cultural and ethical norms. This talk will be accompanied by a screening of the short film: Dahua’s Wedding: Migration, Marriage, and Social Change in...

Event
Posted : September 13, 2013

Based on ethnographic research in Northeast China, this talk addresses the ways in which self-identified gay men cope with the hostile social environment through consciously shifting their identities between the public and the private. In public, these gay men perform manhood and seek to erase traces of their gayness to emulate and achieve legitimacy in mainstream culture. In private, they draw on mainstream discourse to infuse new meanings in it, refute and defy against social prejudice, and re-signify gayness. In so doing, they are caught in a paradox of simultaneously resisting and...

Event
Posted : September 13, 2013

This talk focuses on the shift in southwest China from prison sentences to residential care and treatment for heroin addicts. Following one residential \treatment community, mobile global practices link Western 12-step Narcotics Anonymous to self-healing and older Chinese practices like Maoist speak bitterness. In China it is in the drug aid theatres of the world where the Sunlight NGO traveled to stave off drug trafficking across national borders, and to redress newly defined psychosocial problems associated with illicit drug consumption. Through the process of unraveling on the ground...

Event
Posted : September 13, 2013

In the early 20th century, botanist Joseph Rock spent 28 years wandering West China, accompanied, much of the time, by thirteen men from one small village in Northwest Yunnan Province. In this talk, I take up Rock’s wanderings as part of a larger inquiry into the seam between archive and experience in the botanical exploration of West China. What specific processes translate from experience to archive and vice versa? How are particular social relations fed as walking is rendered into diaries, plants into specimens, observations into route surveys, glimpses into photographs? In Rock’s case,...

Event
Posted : September 13, 2013

In this presentation, I analyze a recent Japanese phenomenon, what is called the net idols: young women who produce their own websites featuring personal photos and diaries. Many net idols earn an income from maintaining these websites, thus I understand them as new labor subjectivities that have evolved in late 1990s Japan in response to the deregulation of labor markets and unprecedented developments in new information technologies. Mastering cute looks and embracing cute behavior are key to the popularity of net idols. While the culture of cute has drawn considerable scholarly attention in...

Event
Posted : September 13, 2013

The “Wenzhou Model” is often touted in China as a successful model of rural economic development and rural industrialization. Based on privatized household production, commodity markets, rapid urbanization and industrialization, the local people of Wenzhou have transformed themselves from rural poverty to one of China’s most prosperous. However, the Wenzhou Model as described by economists and sociologists has ignored a highly visible phenomenon, the great expenditures on popular rituals and building of ritual sites. Slides from fieldwork in 1991-2008 will illustrate the many dimensions of...

Event
Posted : September 13, 2013

Japan’s internationally famous contemporary artist, Murakami Takashi, coined the term “Superflat” to refer to an indigenous lineage of art that emphasized surface over depth, motion over stasis, playful aesthetic effects, and a proliferation of perspectives over so-called one-point perspective. “Superflat,” in Murakami’s formulation, also refers to the lack of distinction between high art and mass culture, culture and subculture, and art and craft in Japanese society. Murakami curated three important exhibitions using this rubric of the “Superflat,” including one in 2005 at New York’s Japan...

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