This series presents speakers whose cutting-edge research exceeds the boundaries of single nation-state studies through their engagements with broader regional, global, or thematic issues.


Past Visitors

Eiichiro Azuma

Alan Charles Kors Term Associate Professor of History and Director of Asian American Studies, University of Pennsylvania


Friday, April 8, 2016

Koto Family, ca. early 1920s, Matsuye Koto Collection

The history of early Japanese America was deeply intertwined with that of Japanese imperialism even though a spatially-organized way of scholarly research has rendered the two histories almost completely separate. Inspired by the success of Anglo Saxon colonialism in its settler societies, the first group of self-styled Japanese “frontiersmen” congregated in California and its vicinity between the mid-1880s and the 1910s, regarding their own agrarian colonization and settlement in the New World frontier to be an integral part of Japan’s “overseas development.” This paper sketches out the transpacific mobility of those resettlers, who refashioned their identity as “pioneers of overseas Japanese development” in various parts of the Asia-Pacific region from the 1890s on after race-based exclusion from white settler societies of North America.

Eiichiro Azuma is Alan Charles Kors Term Chair Associate Professor of History and Director of Asian American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Between Two Empires: Race, History, and Transnationalism in Japanese America (Oxford, 2005) and a co-editor of Yuji Ichioka, Before Internment: Essays in Prewar Japanese American History (Stanford, 2006) and the Oxford Handbook of Asian American History (Oxford, 2016). He has a number of peer-reviewed articles in academic journals, including the Journal of American History, Journal of Asian Studies, and Pacific Historical Review.

Robert Diaz

Assistant Professor, Faculties of Liberal Arts & Sciences and Graduate Studies, OCAD University

Anti-Japanese Nationalisms, Queer Filipinas, and the Limits of Victimhood

Friday, January 22, 2016

sex warriors and samurai

In this talk, Robert Diaz tracks the emergence of two important figures that have come to signify anti-Japanese nationalisms and calls for redress in the Philippines from the 1990’s onwards, namely the comfort woman (or women who were systematically abducted during Japanese occupation) and the japayuki (or women bound for Japan as migrant laborers because of the renewed economic relationship between the Philippines and Japan). By examining the representation of these figures in two provocative cinematic works—Nick DeOcampo’s The Sex Warriors and The Samurai (1996) and Gil Portes’ film Markova Comfort Gay (2000)—Diaz suggests that Filipino artists have queered these figures in order to expose and subtend how anti-Japanese nationalisms seek redress by reproducing heteronormative and patriarchal assumptions about victimized Filipinas. Diaz argues that by queering the comfort woman and the japayuki, these films thus dramatize the limits of victimhood as a nationalist articulation, while also limning how histories of Japanese colonialism and Japanese transnational capital intersect in the contemporary moment.

Robert Diaz is an Assistant Professor in the Faculties of Liberal Arts & Sciences and Graduate Studies at OCAD University. His teaching and scholarship focus on the intersections of Sexuality, Filipino, Asian, and Postcolonial Studies. Diaz is currently co-editing Diasporic Intimacies: Queer Filipinos/as and Canadian Imaginaries (under contract with Northwestern University Press), which brings together artists, scholars, and community workers in order to examine the contributions of queer Filipinos/as to Canadian culture and society. His first book project, Reparative Acts: Redressive Nationalisms and Queer Filipino/a Lives, examines how Filipino/a nationalisms from the 1970’s onwards have also possessed a redressive valence.His research has appeared or is forthcoming in Signs, GLQ, Women and Performance, Journal of Asian American Studies, Filipino Studies: Palimpsest of Nation and Diaspora, and Global Asian Popular Culture.

Satoshi Mizutani

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Global and Regional Studies, Doshisha University


Friday, November 27, 2015

This paper examines the implications of Indian nationalism during the inter-war period for both Japanese rule in Korea and the anti-colonial struggle against it. It discusses how two Bengalis, famous for their Anglophobia—the poet Rabindranath Tagore and the revolutionary Rash Behari Bose—saw Japanese colonialism in Korea and how their contrasting views differentially influenced thoughts about colonialism in the Japanese colonial empire, among both Japanese and Koreans. The paper shows how the views and influence of these two Indians can usefully be examined in terms of what Ann Laura Stoler has called the ‘politics of comparison’. Stoler has seminally argued that modern empires interacted with one another in the (trans-)formations of their colonial policies, urging scholars of colonial history to attend to how these empires compared one another with a view to understanding the politics behind such acts of comparison. By taking the example of the Korean and Indian causes for independence, particularly their trans-imperial interactions, this paper will try to demonstrate that this concept can be usefully extended in ways that cover the thoughts and actions of those colonized subjects who used comparison to oppose colonialism.

Satoshi Mizutani was educated at Sophia, Warwick and Oxford Universities. His Dphil thesis was published in 2011 as The Meaning of White: Race, Class, and the ‘Domiciled Community’ in British India 1858-1930 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011). Since 2005, he has taught at Doshisha University (Kyoto, Japan), and, in 2007 with Ryūta Itagaki, co-founded DOSC (Doshisha Studies in Colonialism), an inter-disciplinary research group devoted to studies on European and Japanese colonialism.

Hiroyuki Matsubara

Associate Professor, Faculty of Urban Innovation, Yokohama National University

“Comfort Women” in Global Histories of Colonialism: A Report from Current Japan

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

This talk is drawn from the newly published book, Thinking about/from “Comfort Women” Histories: Structure of Ordinary Lives beyond Military Violence (Tokyo: Iwanami, 2014). The volume is a series of attempts by historians in Japan and Korea to break through current debates. The experiences of women who were forced to serve in the military brothels of Japan during WWII require scholars to look beyond war time. The authors of the book study broader fields: Korean rural socio-economy in the pre-war period, military brothels in the post-war Korean Army, the daily lives and decisions of Imperial Japanese licensed sex workers, and the history of sexual discipline in the American military. Instead of a revisionist history of bare sexual desire at a time of emergency, this lecture proposes an understanding of the event set in the longer and broader context of colonialism. The audience is invited to review these recent studies in politically charged East Asian settings.

Dr. Hiroyuki Matsubara is Associate Professor, Faculty of Urban Innovation, Yokohama National University, Japan, where he teaches US History. He is an editor of and contributor to the above mentioned book by the Historical Science Society of Japan. His book Undermined Ground of “Efficiency” : 1910s Social Hygienic Movement and American Political Culture (2013) won the Women’s History Association Award in 2014.

Nicole Constable

Director, University Center for International Studies, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pittsburgh

Born Out of Place: Migrant Mothers and the Politics of International Labor

Monday, March 2, 2015

This talk introduces Born Out of Place: Migrant Mothers and the Politics of International Labor (University of California Press and Hong Kong University Press). The book, based on over fifteen months of ethnographic research among Filipino and Indonesian migrant workers who become pregnant while working in Hong Kong, makes three main arguments: (1) that temporary workers must be considered people, not just workers; (2) that policies often create the situations they aim to avoid; and (3) that the stigma of single motherhood often causes migrant mothers to re-enter what is called the “migratory cycle of atonement.” Professor Constable will also discuss the current socio-political climate of Hong Kong today, in relation to the book’s recent reception, including attitudes towards outsiders, economic and class anxieties, and relations with mainland China. Questions will also be raised about the role of “public anthropology” and how this book relates to migratory contexts beyond Hong Kong.

Nicole Constable is Director of the Asian Studies Center in the University Center for International Studies, and professor of anthropology in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. She is author or editor of seven books, including: Christian Souls and Chinese Spirits: A Hakka Community in Hong Kong; Maid to Order in Hong Kong: Stories of Migrant Workers; and Romance on a Global Stage: Pen Pals, Virtual Ethnography, and  Mail-Order’ Marriages.

Andrew Morris

Professor of History, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Oh Sadaharu / Wang Zhenzhi and the Possibility of Chineseness in 1960s Taiwan

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Beginning in 1965, the Republic of China government in Taiwan began inviting the great Yomiuri Giants first baseman Oh Sadaharu to Taiwan. Oh, whose father was Chinese was presented as Wang Zhenzhi, the (half-) Chinese Superman who triumphed over Japanese discrimination with unbeatable Chinese morality, patriotism and drive. This role of Home Run King Wang was an important part of 1960s culture created by Taiwan’s population of recent mainland emigres, whose public identity was defined by a dual position of privilege and diasporic trauma. At the same time, Taiwanese fans harkened back to the Japanese colonial support of the game of baseball, and thrilled to the home run feats of Oh, who (like so many of them) was born under Japanese rule. For many Taiwanese people who were discontented under one-party nationalist rule, Oh’s rise to fame via the ‘Japanese’ game of baseball stood as proof of the superiority of Japanese culture vis-à-vis an imagined retrograde ‘China.’

Andrew Morris is professor of modern Chinese and Taiwanese history at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He is author of ‘Colonial Project, National Game: A History of Baseball in Taiwan’ (University of California Press, 2010) and Marrow of the Nation: A History of Sport and Physical Culture in Republican China (University of California Press, 2004; and editor of ‘Japanese Taiwan: Colonial Rule and Its Contested Legacy’ (Bloomsbury Publishing, forthcoming).


Assistant Professor, Fordham University

The Japanese Art of Fascist Modernism: Yasuda Yukihiko’s The Arrival of Yoshitsune/Camp at Kisegawa

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

This presentation investigates The Arrival of Yoshitsune/Camp at Kisegawa (1940-41) produced by the Japanese-style painter Yasuda Yukihiko. The painting, which emulates Kamakura-period paintings, depicts medieval warriors, was displayed at an exhibition that celebrated Japan’s imperial family. Ikeda demonstrates that the painting significantly contributed to the politicized cultural discourse that espoused the theme of Nihon kaiki (“return to Japan”) which was central to Japan’s wartime ideology. The painting, Ikeda reveals, clearly drew on pre-modern Japanese pictorial art, but it was simultaneously inspired by the modern aesthetics of post-expressionist machine paintings, and thus mirrors the fundamental contradiction of the wartime Japanese state that repudiated some aspects of modernity upon which it was nevertheless predicated. Following recent fascism studies that understand fascism in relation to a paradoxical attitude toward modernity, Ikeda suggests that Yasuda’s work not only exemplified the Japanese state’s appropriation of modernism, but can also be considered as a Japanese example of fascist modernism.

Ikeda is Assistant Professor of Art History and Music at Fordham University, New York and an Asia-Pacific Journal contributing editor. Between 2014 and 2016, she is the Bishop White Postdoctoral Fellow at Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, where she plans to organize an exhibition about wakashu (male youth). Co-editor, with Ming Tiampo and Aya Louisa McDonald, of Art and War in Japan and its Empire: 1931-1960 (Leiden: Brill, 2012), she is currently working on a monograph that will explore the relationship between Japanese art and war in the 1930s and early 1940s.

Atsuro Morita

Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Graduate School of Human Sciences, Osaka University

Multispecies Infrastructure: Infrastructural Inversion and Involutionary Entanglements in the Chao Phraya Delta, Thailand

Friday, November 28, 2014

This talk focuses on the rather strange relationship between rice, water management infrastructure, and farmers in the Chao Phraya Delta in Thailand. Floating rice has the ability to grow its stem rapidly, keeping pace with the rise of the floodwater. Since the 1970s, the role of floating rice in water management infrastructure in the Chao Phraya Delta has increasingly attracted attention. Infrastructures tend to remain unnoticed. Breakdowns, accidents, and other unusual events, however, bring about what STS scholars have termed “infrastructural inversion,” in which the workings of infrastructure become highly visible. Moments of infrastructural inversion have highlighted how the water management infrastructure of the Chao Phraya Delta is entangled with floating rice cultivation. This talk traces how concerned parties have delineated this multispecies infrastructure in moments of infrastructural inversion in partly overlapping and partly divergent ways. Morita will argue that this particular interspecies relation facilitates a reconsideration of the notion of infrastructure and its relationship with nature.

Atsuro Morita teaches anthropology at Osaka University. He has done ethnographic research on technology development in Thailand focusing on how ideas, artifacts and people travel in and out Thailand. In his recent research on Environmental Infrastructures (funded by Japan Society for Promotion of Science), he studies the co-existence of heterogeneous components-including cosmological, scientific and multispecies ones-of water management infrastructures in the Chao Phraya Delta.

Anne Allison

Director, University Center for International Studies, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pittsburgh

Placing the Dead in Times of Solitarization in Japan

Thursday, October 16, 2014

At a moment when the population is declining, marriage and birth rates are down, one-third of people live alone while one-fourth are 65 or older, and cases of “lonely death” (of solitary people whose bodies are discovered days, or weeks, after death) are reported daily, the social ecology of existence is undergoing radical change in 21st century Japan. While long-term bonds—to company, family, locale—were once the earmarks of its “group-oriented society,” today it is living, and dying, alone that marks Japan’s new era of “single-ification” and “disconnected society” (muen shakai). How the rise of single-ification affects the management of death—both those already dead as well as those at risk of dying in/from solitude—is the subject of this talk. Looking at new practices of burying/memorializing the dead, new trends in both single and solitary lifestyles, and the case of a Buddhist priest working to keep alive those contemplating self-death (suicide), Allison considers how the neoliberal shift to “self-responsibility” plays out in the everyday rhythms of being with/out others for post-social Japanese.

Anne Allison is a Professor of Cultural Anthropology and Women’s Studies at Duke University. A specialist in contemporary Japan, she studies the interface between material conditions and desire/fantasy/imagination across various domains including corporate capitalism, global popular culture, and precarity. Allison is the author of Nightwork: Sexuality, Pleasure, and Corporate Masculinity in a Tokyo Hostess Club (1994), Permitted and Prohibited Desires: Mothers, Comics, and Censorship in Japan (1996), Millennial Monsters: Japanese Toys and the Global Imagination <(2006), and Precarious Japan (2013).

Joseph Hankins

Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of California, San Diego

Wounded Futures: Pain, Sympathy, Solidarity / Japanese Sanitation Workers among the Dalit of India

Monday, February 10, 2014

In 2006, a small group of Japanese sanitation workers traveled from Tokyo to Chennai, India to meet with a group they saw as potential comrades – the Dalit. Over the course of several days, these groups shared stories of pain and discrimination – the rigors of marginalization told alongside triumphs of resistance.

My talk focuses on the politics and aesthetics of this solidarity project between the Japanese Buraku people and the Dalit of South Asia. In it, I develop solidarity as a project of rendering groups – here, the Buraku and the Dalit – commensurate through the operation of extending sympathy. I argue that the viability of political solidarity hangs on the cultivation of a “fellow feeling,” a formative process of learning to feel oneself through the imagined mediating gaze of another. I examine the rules that permit and constrain that sympathetic traffic, as well as the moments that lead to its blockage. This talk complicates notions of circulation and commensuration from linguistic and economic anthropology, and it critically engages work on recognition and vulnerability. My conclusion advances an argument for socio-historical connectedness as opposed to liberal sympathy.

Joseph Hankins is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, San Diego. His research focuses on the politics of stigmatized labor in Japan. He earned his PhD in anthropology in 2009 from the University of Chicago and is, for the current academic year, a member at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.

Andrew E. Barshay

Professor and Dr. C. F. Koo and Cecilia Koo Chair in East Asian Studies, Department of History, University of California, Berkeley

Siberian Shadows: Japanese Prisoners Recall the Soviet Gulag, 1945-1956

Friday, November 15, 2013

As the Japanese empire collapsed in August 1945, over 600,000 Japanese soldiers in Manchuria surrendered to the Red Army and were transported to Soviet labor camps, mainly in Siberia. There they were held in most cases for between two and four years, and some far longer. Known as the Siberian Internment (Shiberia yokuryū), this period of prolonged captivity brought forced labor and exposure to an intense campaign of ideological reeducation in which Japanese activists played an important role. Long before Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962) appeared in the USSR, Japanese gulag veterans began to produce not just memoirs but essays, poetry, sculpture, and painting based on their experiences. Using the work of Kazuki Yasuo, Takasugi Ichirō, and Ishihara Yoshirō, I suggest that the length of captivity offers us the best clue to interpreting the mass and variety of memory-work undertaken by former internees.

Andrew Barshay teaches modern Japanese history at the University of California, Berkeley, where he also received his undergraduate and graduate degrees. He is the author most recently of The Gods Left First: The Captivity and Repatriation of Japanese POWs in Northeast Asia, 1945-1956. His earlier books include State and Intellectual in Imperial Japan (1988) and The Social Sciences in Modern Japan (2004), both of which have appeared in Japanese translation.

Mark Driscoll

Associate Professor, Department of Asian Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The Osaka Incident and the Revolutionary Overthrow of the Meiji State

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

In Makihara Norio’s words, the “Osaka Incident was a revolutionary program of the left-wing of the LPR movement to overthrow by force the despotic Meiji government” (1982, 84). As one part of the Incident included a plan to assist Korean independence activists in a coup d’état against the conservatives in the Korean monarchy, scholars on the left such as Inoue Kiyoshi and right like Marius Jansen have located the origins of Japanese imperialist expansion in the Osaka Incident. As I will explain in this presentation, the political motivations of the actors in the Osaka Incident come directly from the left-wing of the LPR movement: liberation, egalitarianism, and mutual aid—in other words, the antithesis of (at least) white imperialist deportment. The leaders of the Osaka Incident, Kobayashi Kuzuo and Oi Kentarô, were consistently critical of all existing forms of state power, which included criticism of Japan’s imperialist posture towards Korea and China.

I will explain why the Incident had been overlooked in both Japanese and Anglophone scholarship, fill in the absences of previous scholarship with archival work I’ve done on the classified police interrogation reports and suggest ways a fuller understanding of the Incident it speaks to our political present.

Mark Driscoll is Associate Professor of Japanese and International Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. After studying for five years at UC, Santa Cruz he received his PhD in East Asian Literature from Cornell in 2000. He has published a monograph on the Japanese imperial propagandist Yuasa Katsuei (Duke University Press, 2005) and a second book, also from Duke, called Absolute Erotic, Absolute Grotesque. He has also published widely in cultural studies and postcolonial studies more broadly, including essays in Social Text, Postcolonial Studies, Cultural Critique, Cultural Studies, and Public Culture.

Nayan Shah

Professor and Chair of American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California

Seminar on his recent book, A Stranger Intimacy: Contesting Race, Sexuality and the Law in the North American West (University of California Press, 2011)

October 24, 2013

A Stranger Intimacy centers the experiences of South Asian migrants in collaboration with domestic and international migrants and their struggles over social and intimate relations in the first decades of the twentieth century in the United States and Canada. The book uniquely pairs the history of several hundred interracial marriages involving South Asian men in this period with original discovery research that documents more than a hundred cases of illicit sexual contact between South Asian men, white men, Chinese men, and Native American men.  The resulting combination illuminates how the state and elites distribute protection and resources in ways that exacerbate the vulnerability of transience for most migrants and enhance promises of settlement for only a select few.

The multi-faceted significance of law, legal reasoning and rule of law governance provides both the evidence and scaffolding for the book’s arguments.  Shah’s analysis of legal records of vagrancy, public indecency, seduction, sodomy, divorce and marriage illustrates how insistently international and domestic migrants crafted alternative publics, communicated codes of honor and privilege, and defended erotic and social practices as they strategically remapped spaces and sensibilities labeled as deviant. The book’s trajectory from the local encounter to national citizenship vividly reevaluates the social, legal and political process that drove the state’s presumption that social stability could be achieved through an invented normative family in the face of mass migration and its non-normative sexual relations and domestic life.

Nayan B. Shah is Professor and Chair of the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California. A historian with expertise in U.S. and Canadian history, gender and sexuality studies, legal and medical history, and Asian American Studies, he is the author of two award-winning books – Stranger Intimacy: Contesting Race, Sexuality and the Law in the North American West (University of California Press, 2011) and Contagious Divides: Epidemics and Race in San Francisco’s Chinatown (University of California Press, 2001).   Stranger Intimacy was awarded the Norris and Carol Hundley Prize by the American Historical Association Pacific Branch for the most distinguished book on any historical subject. Shah is also co-editor of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies  (Duke University Press) and the recipient of fellowships and grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, van Humboldt Foundation and Freeman Foundation.

Toshio Nakano

Professor of Sociology; Dean, Graduate School of Area and Culture Studies, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies

The Aftermath of another Earthquake in Modern Japanese History: On the Cultural Path from Taishō Democracy to Shōwa Fascism

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

In the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011, we are compelled to revisit and reflect on another “post-quake” moment in modern Japan: namely, the Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923. In that case, the Earthquake’s aftermath became nothing more than the pre-war period of the Asia-Pacific War. In this presentation Prof. Nakano proposes to intervene in our knowledge about that “post-quake” moment by especially examining the “sentiments” (shinjō) of the people (minshū) who lived during the era that advanced from earthquake to war. Many well-known songs – especially those which are the very first to come to mind as “children’s songs” in Japan — emerged in concentrated fashion during the period. How is it that people who, after the earthquake loved to sing songs that overflowed with gentleness, soon came to undertake the heavy responsibilities of the war that soon ensued?

Professor Toshio Nakano is Professor of Sociology and Dean of the Graduate School of Area and Culture Studies at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. He began his professional career with research on European social theorists, mainly Max Weber. His interests then shifted to the history of social thought in modern Japan, especially concerning colonialism and nationalism in the wartime and postwar periods. During the 2000s he organized an international joint research project which aimed at studying the historical and cultural characteristics of postwar time and space in Japan and East Asia from the point of view of postcolonial studies and cultural studies. The results of this project have been published in two volumes of essays in Japanese: Continuing Colonialism: Gender, Ethnicity/Nation, Race, Class (Tokyo: Seikyūsha, 2005), and The Occupation of Okinawa and Revival of Japan (Tokyo: Seikyūsha, 2006). His monographs in Japanese include: Hakushū and Popular Sentiment: Road to Total War (Tokyo: NHK Shuppankai, 2012); Ōtsuka Hisao and Maruyama Masao: Mobilization, Subject, War Responsibility (Tokyo: Seidosha, 2001); Modern Legal-System and Criticism (Tokyo: Kōbundō, 1993); Max Weber and Modernity (Tokyo: San’ichi Shobō, 1983).

Geoffrey White

Professor of Anthropology, University of Hawaii

Touring America’s Good War: From Pearl Harbor to D-Day

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Something interesting has been happening in the iconic zones of American World War II memory. They are filling up with more densely interpreted histories of the war in the form of films, media productions, museum exhibits, historic markers, memorials, tour packages, and so on. This expansion of institutionalized representations of World War II is happening at the very moment in which the generation that experienced the war is passing on. This talk will offer some preliminary reflections on the historical and political forces that converge in this transitional moment. Drawing on ethnographic work in memorial museums, commemorative events, and tourism practices in both Pearl Harbor and Normandy, the talk will ask about the role of memorialization of the ‘good war’ in the ecologies of affect that undergird American national imagination in the era of post-9/11 and post-witness memory making.

Geoffrey White is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Hawaii. His research in Solomon Islands and Hawai‘I on the politics of Pacific War memory (The Pacific Theater: Island Representations of World War II (co-edited, University of Hawai‘I Press 1989) and Island Encounters: Black and White Memories of the Pacific War (co-authored, Smithsonian 1990); Perilous Memories: The Asia Pacific War(s) (co-edited, Duke 2001)) now extends to American war tourism in France.

Kornel Chang

Assistant Professor of History and American Studies, Rutgers University-Newark

Managing Race and Empire: Asian Exclusion as Foundation for Anti-Radicalism in the Pacific Northwest Borderlands

Thursday, October 18, 2012

In the early twentieth century, the U.S. and Canadian Immigration Services worked deliberately and collaboratively to suppress South Asian revolutionary nationalism and white labor radicalism in the Pacific Northwest borderlands. This talk examines how these counterinsurgency measures were built upon the foundations of Asian exclusion and a product of intercolonial cooperation and exchange. In doing so, this presentation seeks to reinterpret Asian exclusion from being strictly about national protection (and keeping out undesirable foreigners) to consider how its legal precedents, statutory provisions, and enforcement mechanisms were reworked as a strategy of U.S. and British imperial rule.

Kornel Chang is an Assistant Professor of history at Rutgers-Newark, State University of New Jersey. He is the author of Pacific Connections: The Making of the U.S.-Canadian Borderlands, which is a study of the western U.S.-Canadian borderlands in the Pacific world, examining how the region arose simultaneously from frontier expansion, the globalizing forces of capital and empire, and the territorializing processes of state formation in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His articles on race and empire and migration and border controls in the Pacific world have been published in the Journal of American History and the American Quarterly. He has received fellowships from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Charles Warren Center at Harvard University, and the MacMillian Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University.

Moon-Ho Jung

Associate Professor and Walker Family Endowed Professor of History, University of Washington

Subversive Histories: Race, National Security, and Empire Across the Pacific

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

This lecture will critique standard narratives of Asian American and U.S. history that tend to treat Asian Americans as “immigrants” deserving or striving for inclusion (citizenship) in the U.S. nation-state. By exploring how Asians came to be radicalized and racialized subjects of the U.S. empire before World War II, I will seek to reframe our notions of movements across the Pacific. In particular, my talk will trace the historical origins of the national security state, the heart and soul of the U.S. empire, to a series of U.S. “foreign” and “domestic” policies targeting Asians on both sides of the Pacific.

Moon-Ho Jung is Associate Professor and the Walker Endowed Family Professor of History at the University of Washington. He is the author of Coolies and Cane: Race, Labor, and Sugar in the Age of Emancipation (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006), which received the Merle Curti Award from the Organization of American Historians and the History Book Award from the Association for Asian American Studies.

Jonathan Abel

Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Japanese, Penn State University

Kiss and Censor: Redactionary Aesthetics in Transwar Japan

Friday, March 2, 2012

Visual representations of kisses troubled censors around the world with the rise of film media in the twentieth century; a kiss was never just a kiss and the censors knew it. This talk presents the history of the kiss in modern Japan as a visible manifestation of the deepest effects of censorship. Even as censors attempt delete the trace of their work, producers continually reveal the marks of censorship.

Jonathan E. Abel is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and Japanese at Penn State University. His book Redacted: The Archives of Censorship in Transwar Japan is forthcoming from the University of California Press’s Asia Pacific Modern Series and won the Weatherhead East Asia Institute’s First Book Prize.

C. J. W.-L. Wee

Associate Professor of English, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Nation and Region: Okakura Kakuzo, Rabindranath Tagore and Contemporary East Asia

Thursday, February 9, 2012

On 16 September 2011, the still-popular Japanese band, SMAP (‘Sports, Music Assemble People’) appeared at the Worker’s Stadium in Beijing, their first concert outside Japan, and before a crowd of some 40,000s. The band had been invited to perform by Chinese premier Wen Jiabao in May, after previous attempts by SMAP to appear in China had failed: they were scheduled to appear in Shanghai in September 2010, but this was cancelled by the mainland Chinese organisers because of the political problem of a Chinese trawler that had been detained by the Japanese coast guard, among the most prominent of ongoing internecine clashes between the two major East Asian states over territorial disputes and Japanese history textbooks. The concert’s theme – designed to register Japan’s thanks to China for assistance rendered after the disastrous 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami – was ‘Do Your Best Japan, Thank You China, Asia is One.’

The last phrase, while obviously meant to invoke solidarity between Japan and the now re-emergent power China, was surprising in that it was a direct quotation of a(n in)famous proclamation by the art historian and curator, Okakura Kakuzo (1862-1913), from his book The Ideals of the East, with Special Reference to the Art of Japan (1903):

Asia is one. The Himalayas divide, only to accentuate, two mighty civilisations, the Chinese with its communism of Confucius, and the Indian with its individualism of the Vedas. But not even the snowy barriers can interrupt for one moment the broad expanse of love for the Ultimate and the Universal, which is the common thought inheritance of every Asiatic race, enabling them to produce all the great religions of the world, and distinguishing them from those maritime peoples of the Mediterranean and the Baltic, who love to dwell on the Particular, and to search out the means, not the end, of life.

Apart from the fact that Okakura’s thinking on ‘Asia’, controversially, had been co-opted by the mid-1920s by the Japanese military to justify an expansive nationalistic imperialism, his spiritual-cultural ideal of Asian oneness that was opposed to forms of Western thinking predicated on commercial and industrial ‘machinery’ was transformed into a diplomatic placebo that could contain commercial mass-cultural forms to calm intra-East Asian tensions. This presentation is an essay on the ideals or imaginaries of ‘Asia’ (and perhaps even different forms of subjectivity) that now exist in contemporary East Asia, as manifested primarily in the form of mass culture from Japan and South Korea that, despite the complexities of language boundaries that need to be crossed, seems to have reached translocal status in East and Southeast Asia, and think through the differences from the earlier imaginaries of a modern Asia that, in many respects, Okakura shared with Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941). Once, the ideal of Asia included East and South Asia; now this seems less the case, as ‘Asia’ tends to mean ‘East Asia’ in regional discourse. What is notable, though, is that the exact commercial and industrial machinery that both Okakura and Tagore were critical of – in formats and form that could not have imagined in their lifetime – comes to be that which, in some respects, is in complex counterpoint to the East Asian region’s tensions. What then, the presentation will ask, is the ‘contemporary’ (or is that ‘postcolonial’?) region, as opposed to the modernities that both Okakura and Tagore either partially accepted or rejected as normative in the colonial era?

C. J. W.-L. Wee is an Associate Professor of English at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He was previously a fellow in the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore. He has held visiting fellowships at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi; the Humanities Research Centre, Australian National University; the Society for the Humanities, Cornell University; and the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and the Humanities, University of Cambridge. Wee is the author of Culture, Empire, and the Question of Being Modern (2003) and The Asian Modern: Culture, Capitalist Development, Singapore (2007), and the editor of Local Cultures and the ‘New Asia’: The State, Culture, and Capitalism in Southeast Asia (2002). Most recently, he co-edited Contesting Performance: Global Sites of Research (2010).

Upcoming Events

Check back soon for more events.

Graduate Student Network

We encourage U of T graduate students researching Asia and Asian worlds – whether or not you are currently active at the Asian Institute or new to it – to sign up formally to the Asian Institute Graduate Student Network. We will use this list to keep you informed about events, awards, opportunities, and invite you to take part in our vibrant graduate student community.

Join the Network

Newsletter Signup Sign up for the Munk School Newsletter

× Strict NO SPAM policy. We value your privacy, and will never share your contact info.