2016 - 2017 CRG Forum Series
Bios reflect speakers' status at the time of their presentation at the Center for Race and Gender.
Bios reflect speakers' status at the time of their presentation at the Center for Race and Gender.
04.27.2017| 4:00 – 5:30 PM | 691 Barrows Hall
Sustaining the Disability Community: The Weaving of Activism, Kinship, and Cash Economies
Juliann Anesi, Gender and Women’s Studies Department
Aoga Fiamalamalama and Loto Taumafai Schools are non-governmental organizations (NGOs), established in the 1970s for students with intellectual and physical disabilities in Samoa (an independent state in the Pacific). The impact of NGOs on “vulnerable communities” in developing countries is fraught with questions about the long-term benefits of such organizations to the local communities. This talk focuses on the limits of international aid in creating educational institutions for disabled students. Specifically, I examine the funding from organizations in New Zealand, Japan, and the US and how the women organizers used these monies to sustain the schools. I analyze the creative fundraising strategies by the schools and the impact of inconsistent funding to NGOs. I will discuss how international aid programs are tools of neocolonial monitoring practices for developing nations.
Proper Victim as Proper Police: The Legal Sanctuary of Immigrant Injury and Sexual Violence
Lee Ann Wang, Berkeley School of Law
What does it mean to participate in an immigration raid in order to provide legal assistance to survivors of gender and sexual violence? On the one hand, the raid is a site of migration management through punishment, and on the other, an unfurling of protection and its possibilities. Such practices actually serve each other but are rarely seen as such. How is it then, that we have come to understand the beginnings of legal protection as so distinctly removed from punishment? This talk will discuss the forms of writing the law undergoes in order to establish the terms of protection in U.S. immigration law. Focusing on post 9/11 counter-terrorism measures through various points of increasing federal and local “cooperation,” I analyze the place of the Violence Against Women Act and immigrant protection provisions. I will discuss the role of rescue narratives and the law’s writing of racial injury. Both, are sites where immigrant women’s experiences are used to activate mechanisms of policing and punishment in ways that extend far beyond their own bodies and communities.
Juliann Anesi is a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Berkeley in the Gender and Women’s Studies Department. In 2015, she received her Ph.D. in Special Education and Disability Studies from Syracuse University. Her research interests focus on educational policies, indigenous women with disabilities, and intellectual and physical disabilities in the Pacific Islands. Juliann is also a former Board member of the Society of Disability Studies, and has worked with non-profit organizations and schools in American Samoa, California, Hawai´i, New York and Samoa. Currently, she is developing a book manuscript, Women’s Tautua: Education and Disability Activism in Samoa.
Lee Ann Wang is a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at Berkeley School of Law. She received her doctoral degree from the Program in American Culture at the University of Michigan and has previously taught at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa in the Department of Ethnic Studies and Women’s Studies. She is a founding member and Co-Coordinator of the Critical Ethnic Studies Association Board and worked as an immigrant rights and anti-violence community organizer, advocate, and youth mentor with Asian American and multiracial organizations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Ann Arbor, and Detroit.
04.20.2017 | 4:00 – 5:30 PM | 691 Barrows Hall
Recuperating Afro-Indigenous Pasts: Collage Art and the Case of Undocumented Migration
Alan Palaez Lopez, Comparative Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley
What does it mean to live in the United States as an undocumented Black and Indigenous immigrant? What types of memories do the undocumented have access to? This paper serves as a preliminary exploration of the ways in which undocumented immigrants develop visual and literary vocabularies in which to narrate their stories. Particularly, I focus on the collage-art of Afro-Oaxacan visual artists and botanist, Yesi. Through artist interviews, text exchanges, close readings and visual critiques of her work, I argue that Yesi’s use of collage-art serves as a method of creating counter-memories, recuperating past(s), contextualizing the present, and re-imagining an afro-indigenous future.
Islamicate Sexualities: Locating Race and Gender within the History of Sexuality
Andrew Gayed, York University
I will use visual art to investigate Middle Eastern homosexuality and focus on issues of Modernity, multiple Modernisms, and the West’s claim to Modernity. This discussion will have us thinking about Arab homo-sexualities in terms of desire and alternative masculinities rather than Western notions of visibility and coming out; narratives which are not conducive to understanding how Queer Arabs living in the West experience their sexuality. This is a discussion rooted in sociological ideas of gender, nationalism, and sexuality, and the triangulation of identity and oppression that could arise at their intersection. My intent is to see if we can reach a narrative of Western and non-Western Modernity that works beyond sexual oppression (Middle East) versus sexual acceptance (North America), and instead examines a negotiation of diasporic sexuality by incorporating different sociological strategies to help self-identification categories be less dichotomous.
Gay Arab societies enjoy subtle networks of expressing sexualities and identities, and these networks have been strongly influenced and changed by discourses of modernity and Western imperialism. Through case studies of visual art, this analysis will illustrate how the legacy of modernity has not yet erased these subtle networks of communication, and how diasporic subjects are conflicted by adhering to multiple identity narratives from multiple cultural sources. It is my contention that diasporic identity and sexuality can globally portray the culturally-specific local narratives of sexuality. In this way, we can see how local sexuality narratives are not passively being colonized by Western Queer discourse; instead, localized understandings of sexualities are being internalized and conceptualized by the diaspora, and the contemporary art they produce. The visual art of diasporic artists living in the West in conjunction with Queer artists living and working in the Middle East can contribute to understanding these local identity narratives, and how they manifest themselves in the lives of diasporic subjects globally.
Landscapes of Intimacy
Marco Antonio Flores, Department of Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley
Flores analyzes Felix Gonzalez-Torres, “Untitled” (billboard of an empty bed), 1991 as an important threshold in contemporary art history. He reads Gonzales-Torres’s image of a disheveled bed as suggestive of a disappearing presence and this evocation of absent bodies soon came to define all of Felix Gonzales-Torres’s work up until his death in 1996 from AIDS-related causes.
Alan Pelaez Lopez is an adornment artist and a writer from the southern coast of Oaxaca, México. At Berkeley, Alan is pursuing a Ph.D. in Comparative Ethnic Studies, where he examines the ways in which undocumented Black immigrants create art spaces as a form of political protest that resist notions of Black citizenship and illegality. Alan’s poetry and non-fiction essays are influenced by growing up undocumented in the hoods of Boston and New York City. His work can be found in Everyday Feminism; TeleSur; The Feminist Wire; Black Girl Dangerous; Fusion Magazine; A Quiet Courage, and more.
Andrew Gayed is an art historian and researcher interested in Photography, Middle Eastern Contemporary Art, Identity Politics, and Migration/Diaspora studies. Gayed is a PhD candidate in Art History and Visual Culture at York University, and holds an M.A in Art History from Carleton University, and a B.F.A in Visual Arts from the University of Ottawa. His research investigates Middle Eastern Contemporary Art, with a focus on photographic art being produced by the North American diaspora. This includes Middle Eastern artists working from Canada and the United States, creating artwork surrounding diasporic identity. His research emphasizes themes of migration, and the political artwork that is associated with the diasporic community. Gayed’s research is located at the cutting edge of interdisciplinary and transnational inquiry in art history, gender studies, and cultural studies. Gayed has been the recipient of notable awards including the SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Doctoral Award, a SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Masters Award, and the Ontario Graduate Scholarship. Chapters of his dissertation have been presented at conferences internationally at Duke University and Oxford University on two occasions, in addition to presentations before Canadian audiences.
Marco Antonio Flores is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley with a Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. His current research interests include contemporary queer and trans Chicana/o and U.S. Latina/o arts in visual culture, performance art, and experimental film. Through his interdisciplinary training, he hopes to contribute to understandings of the spiritual, the political, and the aesthetic in Chicana/o Art theories and practices. He is an active member of numerous campus initiatives and is affiliated with the Center for Race and Gender; the Center for Latino Policy Research; the Performance in the Americas Working Group. In 2015 he participated in the Smithsonian Latino Center’s Latino Museum Studies Program and currently a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow. Flores completed his B.A. from the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies and M.A. in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
03.23.2017 | 4:00 – 5:30 PM | 691 Barrows Hall
I will employ an interdisciplinary feminist research methodology in approaching this project. This methodology is crucial because it not only calls into question relations of power between the researcher and the “subject of knowledge”, but also between nongovernmental organizations, governmental/security organizations, Tohono O’Odham tribal members and US citizens, and the undocumented asylee/migrant. Because the focus of this project is primarily institutions and juridical tools used by those institutions to regulate the movement of subjects, I will focus my interviews and fieldwork primarily on representatives of those institutions as well as nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations which seek to promote human rights and security but often come into conflict with one another. Finally, a feminist, non state-centric approach to critical security studies will help me to fully interrogate the “third space of sovereignty” so important to this project: the space where indigenous and refugee subjects both subvert and depend upon regimes of governmentality in order to survive.
03.16.2017 | 4:00 – 5:30 PM | 691 Barrows Hall
The Racial Origins of U.S. Domestic Violence Law
Margo Mahan, Sociology
My dissertation investigates the historical emergence of wife-beating laws in the United States. I argue that southern wife-beating laws emerged from a white-supremacist post-Civil War project to control the labor and degrade the social status of black families. In contrast to the long-standing narrative of feminist activism, I demonstrate how these laws were a postbellum response to the racialized and gendered convergence of the antebellum Master-slave and Husband-wife relationships. Antebellum socio-legal norms simultaneously advanced marital cruelty protections for wives on the one hand and encouraged the physical chastisement of slaves on the other. This ensured that the authority to beat slave women – to include de facto slave wives – was a specifically white male prerogative; and, it added physical chastisement to a long list of naturalized distinctions between blackness and whiteness. Emancipation exposed the fragility of ‘domestic relations’ – and thus the southern way of life – by highlighting its dependence on racialized gender hierarchies. Wife-beating laws that threatened to punish black men, in the midst of socio-legal norms that kept black women vulnerable to white male violence, helped to restore a southern way of life that simultaneously controlled black labor and degraded the status of blackness.
Space is the Case: Mapping Domestic Violence, Race, & Stand Your Ground
Alisa Bierria, Center for Race & Gender
Feminist critiques of domestic violence have created lucid explanations of how gendered power relations drive patterns of violence in abusive heterosexual relationships. Public debates about the racialized and gendered discrepancies of the application of “Stand Your Ground” laws have created an opportunity for stronger spatialized analyses of domestic violence, particularly in the context of the criminalization of battered women who are disproportionately black women and other women of color. Can a geopolitical analysis of domestic violence create a richer understanding of the criminalization of domestic violence survivors who act in self-defense? In this talk, I will consider the prosecution of Marissa Alexander as a case study to begin a discussion about black women’s self-defense in the context of spatialized and racialized dimensions of domestic and state violence.
03.14.2017 | 4:00 – 5:30 PM | 691 Barrows Hall
Dr. Farid Hafez, Islamophobia Research & Documentation Project
This talk discusses the emergence of Islamophobia in Europe and the USA and its specific role in party politics. It discusses the announcement and introduction of Trump’s anti-Muslim policies at the backdrop of precedent policies in Europe. This talk will put Trump’s anti-Muslim politics in a global context, looking at the ‘Muslim ban’, the criminalization of Muslim organizations, and other GOP policy claims from the perspective of transnational networks. At the same time, Hafez discusses the placement of current protest in the implementation of anti-Muslim politics. Although we can speak of a “global post-racial culture” (S. Sayyid) that has taken hold of Western societies, imagining them as post-racial, Hafez argues that the long-standing history of racism in the USA also implies much more resistance to overtly racist speech and acts. In contrast, the wide consent of a post-racial European imaginary allows European dominant societies to implement anti-Muslim legislation without major facing much dissent.
Farid Hafez, Ph.D. is a researcher at the University of Salzburg, Department of Political Science. Hafez has been teaching at numerous universities in Austria and beyond (Indonesia, Turkey, Germany, USA). He has been Visiting Scholar at Columbia University in 2014 and is currently Botstiber Fulbright Visiting Professor for Austrian-American Studies. He is the editor of the Islamophobia Studies Yearbook and since 2015 co-editor of the European Islamophobia Report. Hafez serves on the advisory board of the project ‘The Bridge Initiative’ (Georgetown University) that extends education about Islamophobia to the public. He has received the Bruno-Kreisky-Award for the political book of the year for his anthology Islamophobie in Österreich (Studienverlag 2009) co-edited with John Bunzl. He has more than 50 publications. His last publications include an anthology on young Muslims in Austria: “Jung, Muslimisch, Österreichisch. 20 Jahre Muslimische Jugend Österreich” (New Academic Press, 2016).
03.09.2017 | 4:00 – 5:30 PM | 691 Barrows Hall
Sexual Slavery and the Memorialization of Comfort Women
Amandu Su, English
On December 28, 2015, more than seventy years after the end of World War II, Japan and South Korea reached a landmark agreement to resolve their dispute over Korean women who were forced to provide sexual services for soldiers in Japan’s Imperial Army. Though the Japanese government neglected to accept legal responsibility for the atrocities and offer formal reparations, it nonetheless made an informal apology and promised an $8.3 million payment that would provide care for the 46 surviving women. One of the conditions of the December 2015 agreement was that a statue of a young girl depicting a Korean comfort woman, which has been standing in front of the Japanese embassy since 2011, would be relocated. My paper is an investigation of the comfort women memorials that have been increasingly erected across South Korea and the U.S. since 2010, many of which are replicas of the statue that stands in front of the Japanese embassy. I explore the centrality of the term “sexual slavery” to the comfort women discourse, probing the political and rhetorical implications of linking an atrocity committed by a now nonexistent imperial entity, the Imperial Armed Forces of Japan, to the present day discourse of sex trafficking and “modern slavery,” in a critique of the ways in which the political strategies of feminists and cosmopolitan human rights discourses are intervening or reconfiguring those of the postcolonial state.
Politics of Reconciliation in South Korean War and Peace Memorial Museums
Kristen Sun, Ethnic Studies
This paper traces circulations of transnational war discourses referring to freedom, sacrifice, and gratitude between the U.S. and South Korea in South Korean national war memorials and museum complexes. Specifically, the phrases “Freedom is not free” and “We honor our sons and daughters who answered a call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met,” from the U.S. Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., are affective sentiments that are repeated verbatim or referenced to in national war memorial sites in South Korea ranging from the War Memorial of Korea in Seoul to the UN Forces First Battle Memorial in Osan to the UN Memorial Cemetery in Busan. This paper argues that war memorial museums in South Korea attempt to reconcile memory of the Korean War through the repetition of these key memorial phrases, emphasizing the necessity of gratitude for and debt to military sacrifice for attaining the “gift of freedom.” However, what happens when affective discourses of gratitude and freedom rub up against memoryscapes of wartime civilian massacre? To this extent, I also examine the Nogunri and Jeju 4.3 Peace Parks and how discourses of truth and reconciliation in these peace memorial complexes fail to cohere with war memorial phrases such as “freedom is not free.” This failure of memorialization projects as reconciliatory projects — between history and memory, truth and justice, and war and peace — points to the contradictions of an unending Korean War in the “post-cold war.”
The Pilgrimage: Interethnic Coalitions and Cross-Race Solidarity at Former Sites of Japanese American Confinement
Desirée Valadares, Architecture
As political fervor vilifies immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers, it is important to consider the politics and stakes of federally imposed institutional confinement as a misdirected means of dealing with national security, racism and economic exploitation. The incarceration of approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans, between 1942 and 1945, in a network of assembly centers, relocation centers and prison camps scattered across Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming is now recognized as a dark chapter in American history. This paper offers a close study of these carceral spaces to provide a compelling material perspective that illuminates questions of citizenship, civil rights, state power, the limits of American justice and the ways in which moral anxieties and civic ambiguities surface in times of war. More recently, the return to these sites of forced exile, via annual ‘camp pilgrimages,’ seek to reenact, to remember, heal and rebuild the social bonds challenged by the camp experience. These pilgrimages, which began as early as 1969, cultivate a union with many people who possess little to no connection with the land itself. Born out of collective solidarity with other ethnic groups during the 1960s civil rights movement, pilgrimages to former Japanese American confinement camps demonstrate the ways in which unlikely alliances and coalitions are forged between disparate communities with analogous experiences of dispossession, oppression and displacement. In an attempt to answer how unrelated American ethnic groups, suffering similar persecution unite in solidarity, this community engaged research involves both, archival research and active participation in six pilgrimages: the 47 th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage (2016, California), the 40 th Annual Amache Pilgrimage (2016, Colorado), the 3rd Annual Angel Island Pilgrimage (2016, California), a Blessing Ceremony at Honouliuli (2017, Hawaii), the 6th Annual Heart Mountain Pilgrimage (2017, Wyoming) and the 14 th Annual Minidoka Pilgrimage (2017, Idaho).
Amanda Su is a second year Ph.D student in English at UC Berkeley. Her fields of interest include queer studies, feminist and postcolonial theory, and contemporary Anglophone and Sinophone literature.
Kristen Sun is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Comparative Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley. She received a MA degree in Comparative Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley and a BA in American Studies with minors in Asian American Studies and Film and Media Studies from Northwestern University. Her dissertation focuses on contemporary memorializations of the Korean War in South Korean and U.S. cinema, museums, and memorials. Her research and teaching interests encompass race, gender, war, trauma, memory, U.S. empire in Asia, Cold War cultures and legacies, and transnational Asian American Studies. During her time at Northwestern, Kristen was a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow. From 2014-2015, Kristen was a Fulbright Junior Researcher in South Korea.
Desirée Valadares is a landscape architect and a 2nd year PhD Architectural History student at UC Berkeley. Her research examines how governments utilize the built environment to stage official apologies. More specifically, she focuses on the treatment of former sites of forced institutional confinement in Canada and the United States, namely those addressed by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2008-2015) involving Indian Residential School sites and the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (1990-1982) concerning Japanese American confinement sites during World War II.
03.02.2017 | 4:00 – 5:30 PM | 691 Barrows Hall
A roundtable with Prof. Leigh Raiford, African American Studies) and Prof. Heiki Raphael-Hernandez, University of Maryland
12.01.2016 | 4:00 – 5:30 PM | 691 Barrows Hall
Prof. James Battle, UC Santa Cruz
Trans- activism in Argentina and the US seems to find traction in a legislative and policy sense when it speaks an epidemiologic vernacular of “reduced life expectancy.” The problem of abbreviated trans life is thus made answerable by health care access, whereas the related political objectives of decriminalization and equitable resource distribution have remained comparatively elusive. This paper looks empirically to transgender health activism in Buenos Aires and New York that mobilizes a ‘popular epidemiology’ (Brown 1997) of reduced life chances as a crisis requiring more robust forms of biomedical legibility and recognition. In it, I examine how how “trans health” becomes a relatively singular mode of redress to make apparent a gamut of forces that differentially harm trans and gender non-normative subjects, particularly those who are most exposed to state violence and economic and racialized marginalization. Drawing from ethnographic work in Buenos Aires and New York City, I interrogate the stakes of routing broad claims to a more livable life through the calculus of popular epidemiology, and examine the continuities and divergences between how this takes shape in each site. I compare trans- health activist movements in Argentina and the U.S. to related health activist movements (for example, campaigns for environmental health, sterilization prevention, and abortion access) to explore the connections between social movements mobilizing epidemiologic vernaculars. Finally, I examine how such health-based claims can “answer sideways” to issues of racialized criminalization, economic marginalization, and sexualized violence—a framing that Alondra Nelson (2011) calls “social health.” The paper argues that the ethical demands of “reduced life expectancy” open up opportunities to leverage otherwise implausible political actions, and also may constrict the breadth of trans politics and health politics writ large.
10.27.2016 | 4:00 – 5:30 PM | 691 Barrows Hall
Geographies of Islamophobia in Sydney and the San Francisco Bay Area: Mapping the Spatial Imaginaries of Young Muslim Residents
Rhonda Itaoui, Center for Race Gender
A rise in anti-Muslim sentiment in the ‘West’ has invoked wide debate on the impacts of Islamophobia on Muslim citizens living as minorities in Western nations. The ‘Bay Area Muslim Study’ (Senzai and Bazian, 2013) reported that the number one challenge faced by Muslims living in the San Francisco Bay Area (SFBA) was ‘Islamophobia’ with 77% of participants specifying that Muslim discrimination was a problem. Australian government publications have also reported similar experiences, espousing community and scholarly concern with the impact of Islamophobia on everyday Australian Muslims.
In the context of these discussions, this presentation responds to Noble and Poynting’s (2010) speculation that racism impacts young Muslim sense of belonging in and across public spheres. Despite ongoing testimonials of racial experiences occurring in the public space, the impact of racism on how ethnic minorities, such as Muslims translate this sentiment into mental maps of exclusion has not yet been conceptualised or empirically examined. In an attempt to address this gap, this paper provides a comparative analysis of how young Muslims living in the SFBA, and Sydney ‘map’ the spatial distribution of Islamophobia across their surrounding urban spaces.
The Exclusion of Visible Muslims from French Public Spaces: the Rise of Respectable Sexism and Racism?
Fatima Khemilat, Center for Race & Gender
“Occupation without tanks and without soldiers, but still an occupation.” These are the words the far right leader Marine Le Pen used in December 2010 to describe the Muslim prayers performed weekly in the streets of Paris due to a lack of space in the mosques. This quote can seem insignificant – the French “Front National”‘s leader’s long-lasting animosity towards Muslims was never a secret.
However, the reference and comparison to the occupation of France by Germany was a new thing. Indeed, the Muslim visibility in public space has been presented as problematic since 2004 and conflated as a sign of Islamic invasion. In 2004, the French National Assembly voted for the ban of headscarves in public schools. In 2010, the niqab –a veil hiding the entire face- was prohibited in public spaces. In April May 2016, the veil was equated to a Nazi symbol and Muslim women were described as “American n**** supporting slave trade” by public personalities.
Several other measures were decided, or are still being debated, to limit the veil and illustrate the process of ongoing limitations being placed on the freedom of speech and religion in the name of laïcité and gender equality. These measures predominately affect Muslim women, mainly veiled ones. They are limited in their movements and access to the market, to the gym, to accompany their children in school trips, etc. The mosques, the priest in the street, the Muslim libraries and shops, the physical visibility of Muslims (whether identified by their clothes, beard, or veil) in public spaces has become a contentious topic. The public sphere is the theater where these different ideologies materialize and face each other.
Rhonda Itaoui is a PhD candidate at Western Sydney University and Visiting Student Researcher at UC Berkeley’s Center for Race and Gender. This visit is being funded by the Endeavour Postgraduate Scholarship, a competitive, merit-based Australian Government Award. Her PhD project explores the relationship between Islamophobia and the spatial mobility of young Muslims in everyday public spaces of ‘Western cities’. Under the supervision of Prof. Hatem Bazian from the Islamophobia Research Documentation Project, Rhonda will be conducting fieldwork with the Bay Area Muslim community from April 2016 – 2017. Her interdisciplinary research and teaching interests in ethnic/racial studies, and cultural/social geographies are particularly focussed on critically examining segregation, and diversity in urban spaces.
Fatima Khemilat is currently a PhD Student in Political Sciences at the IEP (Institute of Political Studies) in Aix-en-Provence (south of France). Thanks to her training in law and social sciences of religion, she approaches her work from a multidisciplinary viewpoint, drawing from intersectional analyses of gender, racialization and gentrification. Through law, sociology, political sciences and rhetoric, she endeavors to critique the controversies linked to the visibility of Islam in the European public space. She is a Visiting Scholar with the CRG and IRDP and is compiling a bibliography of the different works dealing with islamophobia in France.
10.20.2016 | 4:00 – 5:30 PM | 691 Barrows Hall
10.06.2016 | 4:00 – 5:30 PM | 691 Barrows Hall
Moderated by Dr. Ariko S. Ikehara, Comparative Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley
Through Okinawan Eyes: Race and Blackness in the Photography of Ishikawa Mao
Daryl Maude, East Asian Languages Cultures
In 1975, Okinawan photographer Ishikawa Mao took a job as a hostess in a bar catering to African American servicemen stationed in Okinawa. Newly returned from photography school in Tokyo, Ishikawa wanted to take photographs of the servicemen and their Okinawan and Japanese lovers, wives, and girlfriends. The portraits she produced were candid and intimate, showing soldiers at their leisure and women at work, as well as more domestic scenes of cooking, relaxing, and socialising.
This presentation will examine Ishikawa’s photography from this time period, understanding it as participating in a dynamic of racial looking. Drawing on Fanon’s work on the white gaze, I will ask what happens when, instead of a white man looking at a black man, it is an Asian woman looking at a black man. What sort of ontological fixity is the black man afforded in Ishikawa’s gaze? And how is this dynamic of racial looking complicated by the status of the photograph itself as a medium? Drawing on this difference in the visual moment, I will furthermore think about the meaning of Okinawan difference from mainland, Yamato Japanese, which is understood in different terms from those of the visual.
Understanding the photographs as encoding many different power dynamics of personal gendered and racialised relations, I will also think about the ways in which the reflect the global power dynamics of the Cold War. The photographs, taken in 1975, portray a moment in which America was withdrawing from Vietnam, and Okinawa had recently “reverted” to mainland Japanese control. They show the personal, candid moments at play in a larger historical, geopolitical moment, and offer us a visual archive of intimacy and interracial relations in Okinawa.
The Ghost in the (Oriental) Machine: Lafacdio Hearn’s Haunted Tales of Old Japan
Lisa Hofmann-Kuroda, East Asian Languages Cultures
In 1890 Lafcadio Hearn, a Greek-Irish immigrant to the U.S., traveled to Japan (by this time a rising empire in the Pacific) as a newspaper correspondent with a commission to write a series of ethnographic sketches of “Japanese life” for a Western audience. Hearn would go on to live the rest of his life in Japan, even marrying into a Japanese family and adopting a Japanese pen name: Koizumi Yakumo. Hearn had a keen interest in vanishing cultures, and his critiques of modernity often fell into romantic nostalgia for an idealized past.
Using a collection of Hearn’s essays called “In Ghostly Japan,” my talk will explore the connection between late-19th century Orientalist ethnography and travelogues and the trope of ghostliness. A recurring theme that appears throughout Hearn’s writings and letters on Japan, “ghostliness” takes on racialized connotations in these essays as Hearn draws upon Francis Galton’s technique of “composite photography”—a technical innovation in which multiple exposures on a single photographic plate allowed for the layering of several different portraits on top of one another, creating an “average” or composite photograph of multiple individuals. Galton, the leading theorist of eugenics during the Victorian period, believed that this technique could be used to predict an ideal racial type by blending the characteristics of those whose features he deemed racially superior.
That Hearn often drew upon the metaphor of composite photography in his writing to describe the “ghostly layering” of past and present in his ethnographic sketches has implications for how we understand his position in late 19th century Japan. I will show how the figure of the ghost becomes a particularly apposite figure with which to think through the complex temporalities at play in the Orientalist imagination by focusing on the way in which Hearn uses the trope of ghostliness to project an “idealized” fantasy of Japan onto his present surroundings, thus blending scientific observation and fantasy in his writing in a way that paralleled Victorian eugenics.
Daryl Maude is a PhD student in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures with a designated emphasis in critical theory. He works on Okinawan and Japanese literature and cultural production from the 1970s to the present day, exploring the racial, sexual, and gendered dynamics in these works against a grander geopolitical background of the Cold War, including the ongoing occupation of Okinawa despite its “reversion” to Japan.
Lisa Hofmann-Kuroda is a PhD candidate in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures with a designated emphasis in Critical Theory. She works on transnational Japanese literature and cultural production from the late 19th century to the present, tracing the conceptual traffic between Victorian England and Meiji Japan through theories of kinship, evolution and eugenics as they traveled between these overlapping spaces of empire.
09.29.2016 | 4:00 – 5:30 PM | 691 Barrows Hall