Previous East Asian Lunch Seminars


Changes in North Korea: Analysis of 2019 Constitution amendments and live-TV screenshots

The lecture deals with the recent changes in the North Korean Constitution which both formalize the concentration of power in Supreme Leader's hands and signify North Korea's abandonment of the erstwhile army-first policy. It will also present an analysis of the recent Pyongyang TV reports.

Time and place: Feb. 20, 2020 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, P. A. Munchs hus, Seminar room 1

Professor Sergei O. Kurbanov is Director of the Institute of Interdisciplinary Study of Korea at the St.-Petersburg State University. Foto: Kurbanov.

Constitutional amendments in 2019

The history of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea lasted so far for 72 years. During this relatively short historical period, the text of its Constitution was changed 10 times. The first Constitution was adopted on September 8, 1948. The last two constitutional amendments were added in 2019, even twice.

Want to make the state police more peaceful

The amendments in 2019 were not noticed by most foreign observers, while they contain very important changes demonstrating two principal trends in the development of the DPRK: an attempt to make the state policy more peaceful and concentration of power in the hands of Kim Jong Un.

While the latter trend is hardly surprising, the first one needs to be analyzed more thoroughly as it has resulted in abandonment of the army-priority policy seongun.

Changes in tecnologies and TV

The year 2019 has also demonstrated continuous changes in technologies and society of North Korea. Official mass media such as the Korean Central News Agency or the daily Rodong shinmun do not describe internal changes. Watching the North Korean Central Television programs attentively can provide an observer with really amazing information demonstrating that the real North Korea is far removed from our stereotyped image.

Professor Sergei O. Kurbanov is a full-time professor of the Faculty of Asian and African Studies of the St.-Petersburg State University, Director of the Institute of Interdisciplinary Study of Korea.

Samantabhadra bodhisattva's role in Buddhist religious practice

In Chinese Buddhist art Samantabhadra forms a sacred Trinity along with Mañjuśrī and Vairocana. This Trinity was inspired by the Huayan jing and has been a popular object of worship until present time.

Time and place: Feb. 13, 2020 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, P. A. Munchs hus, Seminar room 1

Samantabhadra is depicted as riding on a six tusked elephant and many examples of this image can be found in Dunhuang from the Tang period.

Several chapters of the Huayan jing are closely associated with Samantabhadra bodhisattva, but the most important text is the Ārya-samantabhadra-caryā-praṇidhāna-rāja 普賢菩薩行願讚 (Bhadracarī), one of the most famous devotional text in Mahāyāna Buddhism that is attached to the end of the 40 fascicle Huayan jing translated by Prajñā. However, the visual appearance of Samantabhadra depicted in some sources is more elaborate and complex.

One of the six apocryphal visualisation sutras, the Samantabhadra visualisation sutra佛說觀普賢菩薩行法經 includes this complex image that could originate from Central Asian meditation practice. In addition this sutra sheds light on the repentance ritual associated with Samantabhadra that probably was widespread in Southern China.

This lecture attempts to give a comprehensive understanding of the depiction of Samantabhadra bodhisattva in Chinese Buddhist art and its role in Buddhist religious practice.

Hamar Imre is a professor of Chinese studies at Eötvös Loránd University (Budapest), director of the Institute of East Asian Studies, and the Confucius Institute, vice rector for international affaires. His primary areas of expertise include Chinese philosophies and religions.

Constructing & Sustaining the Grand Canal in Late Imperial China

From the late-thirteenth to the mid-nineteenth century, Jining, a prefecture and a regional in southwestern Shandong, underwent immense environmental transformation due to the construction, refurbishment and maintenance of a series of water conservancy works.

Time and place: Feb. 6, 2020 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, P.A.Munchs hus, Seminar room 1

Jinghao Sun is a Professor of History and Director of the Research Center for Jiangnan Regional History at Zhejiang University, and Adjunct Professor of History at East Normal University, China. Foto: Private.

Redefined and remade local natural conditions

These hydraulic projects gradually redefined and remade local natural conditions in the course of creating a solid infrastructural foundation for the entire operation of the Grand Canal.

This was an earthmoving enterprise that mixed natural with human factors. Meanwhile, the state pursued a goal of canal transportation, which became entangled with local initiatives such as the use of water resources for farming. The central court directed these regional geospatial and ecological transformations, and thus affected institutions, groups and individuals in local political and economic contexts, as well as in the religious and cultural spheres.

A double sided-logic

While the state achieved its politico-economic objective to run the empire largely via canal functioning, the environmental and social ramifications of this enterprise of human involvement with nature varied spatially and temporally. Therefore, the story of Jining attests the existence of a characteristic Chinese model of dual technical and sociopolitical strategies: a double-sided logic. These strategies transpired and evolved within a field of human and natural interplay under imperial supremacy.

Whale Blood at the Beach: Coastal Pollution and the Anti-Whaling Movements in Japan and Norway, 1900-1912

In this guest lecture, Fynn Holm from the University of Zurich will give a historical perspective and comparison of the environmental knowledge of anti-whaling movements in Japan and Norway. 

Time and place: Jan. 9, 2020 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, P.A. Munchs hus: Seminarrom 10

The introduction of large-scale industrial whaling operations in Norway and Japan at the turn of the twentieth century triggered wide-spread concern among the local fishing population. In 1903, frustrated fishermen destroyed a whaling station in Mehamn in Northern Norway. A few years later, in 1911, a whaling station was burned down by local fishermen in Hachinohe in Northern Japan. Both groups argued that the flensing of the whales caused whale blood, oil, and grease to be disseminated along the coast, destroying local flora and fauna. Furthermore, according to the environmental knowledge of the fishermen, whales brought fish closer to the shore and were, therefore, part of the fishermen's hunting regime.

This talk discusses the similarities of the Norwegian and Japanese anti-whaling movements by focusing on the environmental knowledge of the local fishing populations. It is argued that concerns regarding coastal pollution were closely related to the socio-economic circumstances, but also the cultural beliefs of the locals.

Lecturer's bio

Fynn Holm is a research fellow and lecturer at the Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies of the University of Zurich. He has studied History, Law, and Japanese Studies at the Universities of Basel and Zurich and is currently finishing his Ph.D. thesis titled "Living with the Gods of the Sea: Anti-Whaling Movements in Northeast Japan, 1600-1912."


Whales of Power


Korean Poetry, Yesterday and Today

In this special lecture, poet Kim Yong Taik will be talking about Korean modern poetry, literary history of Korea, as well as his own poetry.

Time and place: Nov. 1, 2019 12:15 PM–2:00 PM, Seminarrom 7, P. A. Munchs hus

Kim Yong Taik works are known for demonstrating what is forgotten in the bustle of modern life—the countryside, a leaf of grass, the smell of one’s mother’s hair. Kim's affectionate and delicate treatment of the everyday affairs of people living in the countryside offered urban dwellers an unadulterated account of rural farming communities.


Kim's poetic undertaking is the poet's candid desire to provide a sense of dignity to the rural community. Kim's desire for community, however, possesses a straightforward quality otherwise lacking in the sometimes-convoluted theories of modernity. Kim's stance affirms the spirit of the people, whom he believes derive their identity and dignity from a long history of agrarian life.

The robust critical spirit of his poetry derives from his use of the Jeolla Province dialect in poetic forms such as Gasa, Taryeong, and Pansori. This combined use of dialect, proverbs, and colloquialisms strengthens the sense of rural community in Kim's poetry. The use of traditional rhythms, furthermore, endows Kim's poetry with the power to engender tension, rage, and laughter. Please join Kim on Friday afternoon and get a taste of his poetry! 

Lecture by Morgaine Wood: "Life after the Listing"

The long sought-after World Heritage site and its effects on Christian Communities in Nagasaki. Morgaine Wood, PhD candidate at the University of Oslo.

Time and place: Sep. 12, 2019 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, Henrik Wergelands hus: Seminarrom 210

At the 42nd World Heritage Committee Session (2018) hosted in the Kingdom of Bahrain, the "Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region" nomination was put to the committee and subsequently inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List. The nomination itself had gone through numerous rewrites and revisions before its successful inscription, and numerous proposed sites of interest (mostly churches) had languished on the tentative list for many years before being cut out altogether. The final result was nothing like the original proposal and an arguably unique nomination. This presentation will discuss the evolution of the nomination, how it affected local Christian communities along the way, and the (sometimes unintended) consequences that this World Heritage journey has had on heritage stakeholders in the region. I will conclude with a discussion on how the successful inscription of the 12 component sites that make up the Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region is anticipated to change the religious and commercial landscape, as expressed to me by members of the community during my fieldwork at the end of 2018.

Re-conceptualizing the South China Sea

In the geopolitical conflict over the South China Sea, fishers are placed at the centre of Chinese and Vietnamese cartographic imaginations that define the sea either as “Chinese” or “Vietnamese” and hence tie them to the disputed territories of the Paracels and Spratlys.

Time and place: May 23, 2019 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, PAM 10

Edyta Roszko is a Senior Researcher at the Chr. Michelsen Institute in Bergen, Norway.

While their historical presence and customary fishing rights in the South China Sea (SCS) have been much publicized in the context of this territorial dispute, the long-standing Cham seafaring trade networks and legacy are ignored by both countries.

Based on ethnographic, archaeological and archive fieldwork in Vietnam and China, Roszko will link—usually separated—histories and activities of Cham, Han and Viet fishing groups, offering longue durée analysis of oceanic connections, without romanticizing. Rather than aiming to (de)legitimize Vietnam’s respectively China’s territorial claims to the SCS, she argues that the contemporary use of occupational and national labels produces particular effects by projecting recent closures and enclosures onto the past, in spite of interconnected histories of the Cham, Vietnamese and Chinese.

Full title: Re-conceptualizing the South China Sea: Ethnicity and Mobility beyond nation, society and cartographic anxieties​.


This lunch seminar is organised in collaboration with the research project "Whales of Power: Aquatic Mammals, Devotional Practices, and Environmental Change in Maritime East Asia".

Rethinking Japanese "Culture"

Welcome to the lecture "Rethinking Japanese "Culture": Anxiety, Identity, and Becoming-Other" by Tadashi Yanai, Professor of Cultural Anthropology in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tokyo. 

Time and place: May 16, 2019 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, P. A. Munchs hus, room 1

This talk begins by discussing two books of anthropology of Japan recently published in English: Exploring the Anxiety of Being Japanese: A New Look at Nihonjinron (by Takeo Funabiki, 2018) and Escaping Japan: Reflections on Estrangement and Exile in the Twenty-First Century (edited by Blai Guarné and Paul Hansen, 2018).

These are thought-provoking books that permit us to grasp the concrete—and fragmentary—movements of life, underneath what we call "Japanese culture" perhaps too generically. Anxiety, identity, and becoming are three of the main concepts that appear in them.

Anyway, this does not mean that discussing Japaneseness is finished. Simply we should do it more carefully.

The latter part of the talk develops this line of thought, where one of the references is Takayuki Kumagai's book Japanese is a cinematic language (2011).

Eventually, thinking about Japaneseness will be presented as an inspiring way of considering identity and becoming in the contemporary world at large.  

The Stinking Empire - Soil and Fertilizers in Chinese History

An overview of the history of fertilizers in China.

Time and place: May 3, 2019 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, PAM 1

Welcome to the lecture "The Stinking Empire - Soil and Fertilizers in Chinese History" by Jörg Henning Hüsemann, lecturer for Chinese culture and history at the East Asian Institute of Leipzig University. 

From organic to chemical fertilizers

The history of Chinese agriculture, viewed across the longue durée, is an organic one. Only during the 1960s, more and more farmers began to use agricultural chemicals to protect their plants and to fertilize their soil. Today, China is not only the largest consumer, but also the largest producer of chemical fertilizers.

Nowadays we have to deal with the problem of overfertilization, but for the longer period of time, farmers were often facing a lack of fertilizers. Scholarly writings mention more than one hundred different fertilizers but no kind of manure was so eagerly sought after as night-soil collected in the Chinese cities.

This talk will give an overview of the history of fertilizers in China, focusing on what Chinese scholars in their respective times regarded as fertilizer and how they explained the necessity and effects of manuring.

Family Law Reform through Constitutional Litigation?

The Japanese Supreme Court may be entering an era of judicial activism. 

Time and place: Apr. 25, 2019 12:15 PM–1:00 PM, PAM 1

Full seminar title: Family Law Reform through Constitutional Litigation? The problem of obsolete statutes and the role of the Japanese Supreme Court

Keisuke Mark Abe, Ph.D., Professor of Law at Seikei University in Tokyo. 

In 2013, the Court held that a rule of inheritance provided in the Civil Code, giving illegitimate children a lesser share of their parents’ estate than their half-siblings, was inconsistent with the Equality Clause of the Constitution. This was followed by another decision in 2015, in which the Court declared unconstitutional another provision of the Civil Code, which stipulated a six-month waiting period for remarriage only for women.

A certain inconsistency is visible, however, when these innovative decisions are contrasted with the fact that the Court affirmed the constitutionality of a statute requiring a married couple to assume a single surname. Emphasizing the neutrality of the text in the face of social reality in which 96% of married couples choose the surnames of husbands is not a persuasive way to justify the mandatory rule permitting no exception.

The Chief Justice’s concurring opinion, however, seems to suggest that the Court should have stepped in had the dispute involved a specific minority group. This may be a sign that the Court is prepared to undertake a more active role in cases involving sexual minorities, such as when the issue in question is about same-sex marriage.

The Evolution of the Theory of Ethno-genesis of Korean People in the DPRK

From the legends to the fairy tales.

Time and place: Apr. 10, 2019 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, PAM 15

Creative reinterpretations of history

The historical transformation of the theory of Korean people’s ethno-genesis in the DPRK is an excellent example of how Korean history was being “creatively reinterpreted” by the North Korean scholars, who strive to follow the orders of the Great Leader and the Workers' Party of Korea.

The newest theory of Korean people’s ethno-genesis in the DPRK declares Korean people the oldest genetically homogeneous ethno-nation on Earth and makes a significant contribution to the formation of the unique collective consciousness of North Korea, which outweighs the presence of nuclear capabilities or lag in economic development in terms of being an obstacle to the future unification of Korea.

Vadim Akulenko is ready to submit his PhD thesis on The Theories of Ethnogenesis of Korean People in the DPRK and the ROK to the Dissertation Council.

The sense of an ending: Women in Aum Shinrikyō

This talk discusses the role of women in Aum Shinrikyō, a millenarian movement that perpetrated a sarin gas attack in Tokyo subway in 1995 and several other crimes.

Time and place: Apr. 5, 2019 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, PAM 10

To date, the role of women in Aum - who are often dismissed in media accounts about the group as Asahara (the group leader)’s lovers - have been overlooked, although three out of five senior disciplines in the group were female. This talk will discuss some preliminary findings and themes emerging by interviews with ex-Aum members in relation to both their experience in Aum and their processes of distancing themselves from it after 1995.

Erica Baffelli is currently Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Japanese

The Eclipse of an Electronic Monument

On September 9, 1976, Chairman Mao died; nine days later, a grand state memorial involving one million people was held on the Tiananmen Square, which was broadcast live all across the nation.

Time and place: Mar. 21, 2019 12:15 PM–1:00 PM, PAM 14

This “live broadcasting of history,” however, gradually faded away and failed to enter the repertoire of public memory. By analyzing the circulation of the images related to Mao’s death, this talk shall track the life cycle of the media event, so as to explore the politics of visual memory in contemporary China.

The eclipse of this electronic monument, Li argues, is largely due to the presence of censorship and the lack of resonance between the event’s script and the wider socio-political culture in the post-Mao era. As a result, this unprecedented state ceremony has been relegated to a historical turning point in recent Chinese history. 

Full seminar title: The Eclipse of an Electronic Monument: The Life Cycle and Visual Memory of Mao’s Funeral

Li Hongtao is a Professor of media studies at Zhejiang University and and Associate Professor Ⅱ in the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages at the University of Oslo. His research interests include environmental politics, media sociology, and cultural memory.

The Value of Carbon in creating Ecological Civilization

What is the value of carbon? How is carbon made, measured, and managed? And why does carbon play such a dominant role in environmental governance, in China and beyond?

Time and place: Feb. 21, 2019 12:15 PM–1:00 PM, P. A. Munchs hus, room 10


From carbon markets to low carbon living, the metric of carbon pervades Chinese environmental politics. The ambitions behind accounting for carbon is to steer the planet away from the ecological abyss wrought by classic industrial development and help forge a path towards a sweeping ecological civilization.

By calculating carbon in everything from power plants to forestry reserves, and plastic toys to bicycle rides, environmental degradation can be rendered in quantified, legible, and even monetary forms. Highly diverse processes, objects, and activities thereby become commensurate and exchangeable, often through market mechanisms and financial speculation. 

In this talk, Charlotte Bruckermann turns to three ethnographic fieldsites in China to show how carbon as a value intersects with money and finance.

  • First, Beijing carbon experts establishing, operating, and trading within the Chinese carbon market as part of ‘green finance’;
  • Second, a Guangzhou software company developing an online platform and mobile app for consumers to measure, share, and exchange their carbon footprints in an ‘inclusive carbon finance’ mechanism;
  • Third; a Fujian forestry project where trees are planted to absorb carbon dioxide, with the resulting carbon reductions sold on the provincial carbon exchange.

Bruckermann will discuss what, how, and why these carbon values compare, and why not, as economic growth and environmental sustainability, capital accumulation and political legitimation, financial debt and green credit, become fused through carbon as a value.

Bruckermann’s ongoing research examines social reproduction amidst economic accumulation and ecological transformation in China. She currently works on the project Frontlines: Class, Value, and Social Transformation in 21st Century Capitalism in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Bergen. 


Make Korea Great Again? Korean pseudohistory and why it matters

Andrew Logie, assistant professor of Korean Studies at the University of Helsinki.

Time and place: Nov. 29, 2018 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, PAM3

Peruse the early history section of any South Korean bookstore today, and you will quickly notice a significant number of freshly printed paperbacks with evocatively designed covers advertizing claims therein of either newly revealed, or better argued, truths of Koreans’ ancient past. Take a moment to examine the books and you will encounter claims that Old Chosŏn, the “first state of Korean history,” had constituted an expansive empire centered in continental Manchuria, and whose territory further encompassed the Korean, Liaodong and even Shandong peninsulas (Old Chosŏn were rulers of the continent, Yi Tŏgil 2006).

Within such books the origins of Old Chosŏn are invariably traced to the Neolithic Hongshan culture (3500-4000 BCE) straddling modern Inner Mongolia and Liaoning provinces, China (Anthropological illumination of the Hongshan culture, Yi Ch’angu 2018). More fantastic examples make claims to Korea possessing a 9,000 year history, projecting back from Hongshan to a proto-civilization named Hwanguk located in Central Asia (Old records of the Hwan and Tan states, An Kyŏngjŏn 2012). Other works meanwhile focus on the historical geography of Old Chosŏn, in particular seeking to counter the consensus understanding that the historical state of Chosŏn was centered at modern Pyongyang and overthrown by the Han Chinese invasion of 108 BCE, replaced with four centuries of commandery rule (The Han Commanderies were in China, Mun Sŏnghae 2016). Many of these books further contain a polemic denouncing the academic establishment as national traitors who supposedly promote colonial era Japanese historiography to the intentional detriment of Korea and benefit of China (18 lies of national traitor historians, Hwang Sunjong 2017).

This is the phenomenon of Korean pseudohistory of early northern East Asia. Born of popular historical revisionism that was initially authored in response to the Japanese takeover of Korea, it reemerged in the 1970s and has continued to thrive down to the current day, situated at the intersection of national revitilization, new religion and geopolitical rivalry. It constitutes both a fascinating sociological phenomenon in its own right, but a major obstruction to professional scholarship.

North Korea After 2018 Summits

The beginning of the year 2018 was marked by significant events which changed the situation on the Korean Peninsula. What's New after the summits in Panmunjeom, Singapore and Pyongyang?

Time and place: Nov. 22, 2018 4:15 PM–5:15 PM, PAM 2

These were the Pyeongchang Olympic Games to which North Korea has sent its team. These were the inter-Korean and North Korean-American summits, and the North Korean steps for denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

The question is how far North Korea intends to go on the way of denuclearization and peaceful unification of Korea. The answer to this question may be found in radical changes which North Korea is now undergoing.

Prof. S.O. Kurbanov has last visited North Korea in 2016 and 2018. During his latest visit he has discovered new trends which clearly indicate that North Korea is ready for peace and denuclearization as long as the U.S. and the world community are ready to support North Korean initiatives.

The presentation by S.O. Kurbanov will contain many photos and videos proving his statements.

Prof. Sergei O. Kurbanov is a full-time professor of the Faculty of Asian and African Studies of the St.-Petersburg State University, Director of the Institute of Interdisciplinary Study of Korea.

China’s Urbanisation and Gentrification as State Project

Mainland China has gone through an ‘urban revolution’ that makes use of rapid, state-led urbanisation as a key means to achieve political, economic and social goals of the state.

Time and place: Nov. 1, 2018 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, PAM 1

This process of urbanisation, coupled with the drive of land-based accumulation, produces new opportunities to rethink ‘gentrification’ as a framework to understand on-going spatial transformation.

In particular, this lecture discusses how gentrification has become a state project in key metropolises of China, resulting in not only the mass displacement of low-income land users from existing neighbourhoods subject to redevelopment and land assembly, but also a city-wide policy to stigmatise vulnerable and low-end populations and re-create strategic urban spaces for the exclusive use by the affluent and desirable in the eyes of the state.

The lecturer is Professor of Geography and Urban Studies in the Department of Geography and Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and Director of the Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre.

Ecological Ethics for China

With the growing environmental crisis in China there is a search for environmental worldviews and ecological ethics that are appropriate to the cultural context, says Yale Senior Lecturer and Research Scholar, Mary Evelyn Tucker in this lecture.

Time and place: Oct. 18, 2018 12:15 PM–1:00 PM, PAM seminarrom 1

Clearly Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism have something to contribute in this regard. This lecture will present some aspects of Confucianism that may contribute to an ecological ethics. We recognize the limitations and problems of Confucianism (as are present in most religious and philosophical systems), along with the potential for articulating a more inclusive worldview.

This potential can be seen in the Confucian texts and the tradition. From the classical texts to the later Neo-Confucian writings there is a strong sense of nature as a relational whole in which human life and society flourishes. Indeed, Confucian thought recognizes that it is the rhythms of nature, which sustain life in both its biological needs and socio-cultural expressions. For the Confucians the biological dimensions of life are dependent on nature as a holistic, organic continuum. Everything in nature is interdependent and interrelated. Most importantly, for the Confucians, nature is seen as dynamic and transformational. The challenge is how to recover these Confucian perspectives against the onslaught on rapid modernization and relentless materialism.

Using Heritage for Confucian Edification: The discourse and practice of cultural heritage in the Meng Lineage in Northern China

The lecture is held by Zhejiang University PhD student, Qingkai Ma, and explores the indigenous discourse and practice of cultural heritage in cultural heritage sites related to Mencius (372 B.C.-289 B.C.) in Zoucheng, Shandong Province in northern China.

Time and place: Oct. 4, 2018 12:15 PM–1:00 PM, PAM 1

Mencius was regarded as the “other sage” in pre-modern China, second only to Confucius (551 B.C.-479 B.C.). Mencius saved Confucianism from decline and developed it during the Warring States Period (475 B.C.-221 B.C.) for which he was honoured by the successive dynasties since the Song Dynasty (960 A.D.-1279 A.D.). The Temple of Mencius was constructed in the era of Northern Song Dynasty (960 A.D.-1127 A.D.). Mencius’ direct descendants were granted titles by emperors from the Ming Dynasty (1368 A.D.-1644 A.D.) until the first half of the 20th century.

The Temple of Mencius, the Mencius Family Mansion where the direct descendants lived, and the cemetery of Mencius and his descendants are all in Zoucheng city in Northern China. The direct descendants of the Meng lineage, like that of the Kong lineage, took the responsibility for conserving and managing the heritage sites for hundreds of years. 

Through interpreting the local gazetteers, the archival records of this family lineage and the ethnographic data, this study sheds light on the indigenous discourse of heritage and ways of practicing heritage in this family lineage before the 1950s. Confucian scholars did not regard cultural heritage as having innate value. Cultural heritage sites were valued for their contribution to the edification of people rather than for their fabric. To achieve this goal, the dilapidated cultural heritage sites were constantly restored and rebuilt.

I also investigate how this tradition has been transformed. All these sites were put under the management of heritage agencies in the 1950s. Influenced by what is termed ‘Authorized Heritage Discourse’ (Smith, 2006), an overemphasis is given to the materiality of these sites rather than their cultural meanings, leading to the evacuation of cultural meaning from this place (Herzfeld, 2006). This study aims to diversify the discourses of heritage and reactivate the tradition of using heritage for cultural transmission.

Qingkai Ma is a PhD candidate from Zhejiang University, China. His research interests include critical discourse studies and critical heritage studies. He is particularly interested in the diversification of conceptualizations and practices of cultural heritage.

From Forum on China-Africa Cooperation to the Belt-Road Initiative: China’s Strategy in Africa, by Liu Haifang

Time and place: Sep. 20, 2018 12:15 PM, PAM 3

China just held its “largest diplomatic event of this year” in Beijing, the third China-African Summit, also known as Forum of China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) established in 2000. The large amount of financing for Africa that was announced by the Chinese leader has so far stimulated many debates both within China and in the world. Yet only a year ago, another huge debate about China and Africa was about Africa’s inclusion (finally) into China’s big Belt & Road Initiative. How to understand both platforms in terms of China’s strategy in Africa, if there is one?
The presenter, as a Chinese Africanist, has been travelling frequently to Africa and closely watching this bilateral relationship. She will bring both a long-term perspective as well as facts-based research of two decades in order to unpack the latest development of China-African relations, and to show the latest trends as well as the current barriers. 

Liu Haifang, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the School of International Studies, Peking University. 

Religious Marketplaces, Constellative Networking and Urbanism

The Study of Religions, East Asian Lunch Seminar, and the Oslo Buddhist Studies Forum have the pleasure of inviting you to the lecture "Religious Marketplaces, Constellative Networking and Urbanism" by professor Dan Smyer Yü. After the lecture and discussion on Religious Marketplace, Smyer Yü will give a shorter interactive talk entitled: "An Inter-Asian Formation of Modern China since the 1200s: Climate Change, Imperial Conquests and Predicaments of Ethnic Diversity.”

Time and place: Sep. 6, 2018 12:15 PM–3:00 PM, PAM Seminarrom 1

Topic of the lecture: As an increasing number of Tibetan lamas reach out to non-Tibetan populations in contemporary China, Tibetan Buddhism is undergoing various transformations especially in urban settings. As its engagement with many aspects of the Chinese society, such as higher education, social morality, philanthropy, environmental conservation, and modern science, the pattern of its transregional and trans-ethnic expansion shows itself as an urban lay Buddhist movement. Based on the author’s ethnographic work, this lecture discusses how the politics, economics, and practices of Tibetan Buddhism are deeply entangled with each other in contemporary Chinese society. Situated in this sociopolitical context, this lecture, by treating Tibetan Buddhism as a world religion, argues that a Sino-Tibetan Buddhist modernism emerges in urban China as a Buddhist urbanism possessing both transcendental orientation and worldly function regarding the Buddhist sense of enlightenment and practical techniques for human worldly wellbeing under the fast changing, precarious conditions of livelihood making in contemporary China. The organizational manifestation of this Sino-Tibetan Buddhist modernism is what the author calls the “constellative networks,” which, sustained by material resources donated from affluent Buddhist individuals and businesses, diffuse the lineage-based Buddhist teachings from Tibetan regions to its receivers in different cities of China.

After Prof. Smyer Yü’s lecture and discussion on Religious Marketplace, Constellative Networking and Urbanism, he will give a shorter interactive talk entitled: "An Inter-Asian Formation of Modern China since the 1200s: Climate Change, Imperial Conquests and Predicaments of Ethnic Diversity.”

This short interactive talk tells a climatic story of how modern China has taken its current geographical shape and how it continues to grapple with the tensions between a unified modern nation-state and the presence of the past laden with numerous imperial, civilizational, and cultural encounters induced by forces of climatic change over the last eight hundred years. It treats modern China not merely as having a uniform political system with its distinct ideological values and governing patterns, but, more critically, as a multi-ecological, multi-climatic, multi-ethnic, multi-civilizational zone which traces its divergent roots to both Chinese and non-Chinese cultures. Situated in the environmental contexts of the historical Mongol-China-Manchu nexuses, this lecture takes a climatic-ecological reading of their imperial encounters and discusses how the Little Ice Age (1200s-1800s) intensified their violent interactions, eventually leading to the formation of modern China as the outcome of combined human factors and environmental forces. It wishes to present a thesis that the inadvertent co-creation of modern Chinese territory by these three historical imperial polities is expressed in three arenas of their interactions, conflicts, and conquests, namely ecologically complementary livelihood making, environmentally-conditioned imperial expansions/cessations, and the climatically insensitive, modern political governing of meteorologically patterned and ecologically unique ethnic groups. In addition to the formulation of this thesis, this lecture also re-highlights modern China not merely as an East Asian nation as conceived in traditional area studies but also as an inter-Asian state as it intersects and/or encompasses parts of Northeast Asia, Inner Asia, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and South Asia. Its formation possesses a visible historical record of imperial encounters and human migrations due to climate change.

Lecturer’s bio: Dan Smyer Yü is a professor and the Director of the Center for Trans-Himalayan Studies at Yunnan Minzu University (China). 

East Asian Regional Identity and Rise of China

Different from waning of regionalism in both North American and Europe after 2008 global financial crisis, regional cooperation in East Asia at different level has received a special attention.

Time and place: Sep. 5, 2018 2:15 PM, PAM room 4

We will focus on following three questions: Why and how great powers rush for conceptualizing East Asian regional cooperation in past three decades? How to reassess “ASEAN way” and “ASEAN centrality” on which almost all regional institutions in this region are based? And finally, how to evaluate “hybridized regionalism” as a new concept to explain on-going East Asian regionalism in terms of China’s rise and Sino-US-Japanese relations?

Dr. WANG Zhengyi,Distinguished professor (Changjiang scholar) and chair of Department of International Political Economy, SIS, Peking University, China.

The Limitation and Transcendence of Writing in China

The Chinese author, Yan Lianke, will give a speech which reveals the roots of the changes in contemporary Chinese reality and Chinese literature.

Time and place: Aug. 30, 2018 12:15 PM–2:00 PM, Stort møterom, Georg Sverdrups hus

The lecture will be delivered in CHINESE and interpreted into Norwegian by Øystein Krogh Visted.

The Chinese writers now have entered into a new cold age – one different from the “ode to party” age at socialist China, the frozen age during the Cultural Revolution, or the relatively free age at 1980s’ China. China has stepped into a liminal age when the authoritarian political system and the liberalizing economy converge with each other. Chinese writers, in this age, are confronted with both the political pressures from the government and the temptation of money from the market.

They consciously or unconsciously partake of censorship and self-censorship, ignoring the poignant reality in China, and Chinese literature therefore takes on a new and uncanny dimension.

The mainstream of contemporary Chinese literature now is dominated by “bitter coffee literature,” one type that compromises with the authoritarian, overlooks the social reality and disregards the pain and predicament of human existence. My speech “The Limitation and Transcendence of Writing in China” will reveal the roots of these changes in contemporary Chinese reality and Chinese literature, and try to find the possibility of transcending these limitations. By so doing, I will explore how the Chinese literature could embrace the world literature.

Nature in Miniature in Modern-Japanese Urban Space: Tsubo-niwa – Pocket Gardens

This lecture by Agnese Haijima will explore Japanese approach towards nature through the phenomenon of tsubo-niwa – translated in a variety of ways: “courtyard gardens”, “small gardens in a limited space”, “pocket gardens”. 

Time and place: Apr. 26, 2018 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, P.A. Munchs hus: Seminarrom 3

The speaker will trace their historical development and modern interpretation in recent architectural projects both for private residences and buildings for public use.

Through the discussion of Japanese attitudes towards nature, the analysis of the historical development of Japanese gardens as well as the studies of gardens themselves, the speaker argues that the nature found in Japanese gardens of any historical period has never been similar to wild nature.

They are a product of Japanese philosophy, culture and adjusted to serve people’s needs. Though recent architectural and garden projects tend to reflect a more caring attitude towards nature, attempt to take it closer to people’s lives and educate the younger generation in eco-friendly way.

Agnese Haijima is currently working as Associated Professor in the University of Latvia, she is the Head of Japanese studies. Tsubo-gardens is her recent topic of research. 

A Proper Prime Minister: Appointive Responsibility in Japanese Cabinet Scandals

This is a seminar with Jens Sejrup. 

Time and place: Apr. 4, 2018 1:15 PM–2:15 PM, P.A.Munchs hus: Seminarrom 11

Cabinet scandals and minister resignations happen frequently in Japan. In recent years political opponents and the mass media have approached such cases as occasions for pursuit of the prime minister’s ‘appointive responsibility.’

Focusing particularly on 2006–2012, my current research introduces appointive responsibility as an object of critical analysis.

Emphasizing that the notion has distinct ideological implications, I pinpoint the rhetorical techniques and strategic rationale underlying appointive responsibility and show that the phenomenon operates in two logically opposed forms.

The first form follows a causality principle and presents the prime minister as inappropriately ignorant.

The second one operates according to a representative logic and revolves around inappropriate knowledge. Outlining and problematizing both forms, I analytically unravel key aspects of a new paradigm of executive leadership and responsibility in Japanese political discourse.

This research seeks to contribute to a better qualitative understanding of responsibility constructs in recent Japanese politics and delivers a focused critical examination of appointive responsibility as a key rhetorical vehicle for tapping into frustrated public expectations of political leadership.

Japan`s Gay Empire: Wartime Militarism and Sex Tourism on the Korean Peninsula

This paper by Todd A. Henry (Ph.D., UCLA, 2006), an associate professor of history at the University of California-San Diego (UCSD), explores how pre-WWII histories of Japanese imperialism and militarism inflected the imagination and practice of gay desire in Asia-Pacific after 1945.

Time and place: Mar. 16, 2018 2:15 PM–3:15 PM, P.A.Munch Seminarrom 10

To re-center trans-war, trans-national, and trans-ethnic dimensions of LGBTQ cultures in the region, I focus on two related discourses that have received little attention in a field that continues to approach Japan as an "island nation" or primarily in its bilateral relations with the US.

The first discourse that problematizes this Cold War epistemology is evidenced by many authors who homoeroticized the drudgery and violence of prewar soldiering in a demilitarized Japan.

The second part of the presentation interrogates contemporaneous accounts that encouraged Japanese men to return to the many urban centers of its former empire - not as war mongering soldiers or colonial officials, but as middle-class businessmen engaged in sex tourism.

Building on feminist critiques of heterosexual liaisons in the ongoing subordination of lower-class women, I show how inter-ethnic encounters between gay men developed in tandem with kisaneg tourism, a post-colonial form of sex work that re-established an unequal system of transactions facilitating the Japanese consumption of Korean bodies.

Model workers in China's economic reforms

By Bo Ærenlund Sørensen. 

Time and place: Feb. 8, 2018 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, P.A.Munch Seminarrom 5

Even before the establishment of the PRC in 1949, the Chinese Communist Party had begun the practice of selecting “model workers” for popular imitation, and this tradition persists up until today. This presentation examines how the Chinese party-state in the early years of post-Mao economic reforms (1977-1990) attempted to employ “model workers” in its quest to re-shape popular norms, emotions, and expectations to make these fit with the evolving reform program.

The presentation will also grapple with the question of why the party-state has found it attractive to disseminate model worker narratives. I will argue that this tradition has its roots in philosophical and ontological notions of personhood in China, which constitute cultural aquifers that continue to nourish particular PRC policies and media representations all the way up to the present.


Resigned Activism: Living with Pollution in Rural China

By Anna Lora-Wainwright. 

Time and place: Nov. 30, 2017 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, P. A. Munchs building, 12

Pollution is one of the most pressing issues facing contemporary China and among the most prominent causes for unrest. Much of industry and mining takes place in rural areas, yet we know little about how rural communities affected by severe pollution make sense of it and the diverse form of activism they embrace. This talk draws on my new book to describe some of these engagements with pollution touching on three in-depth case studies. It argues for a more encompassing, holistic and diachronic study of pollution as it is experienced in its local contexts. It promotes an anthropological study of how villagers experience pollution, what socio-economic and political relations exist between communities, local officials and polluting firms, how patterns of action and inaction develop and how they relate to shifting definitions of health, environment, development and a good life. The term “resigned activism” serves as a conceptual tool to attend to subtle shifts in parameters and expectations and to the diverse forms of environmental engagement that they support. It encapsulates a spectrum of perceptions and practices comprising acts that may fit the conventional label of collective environmental contention, such as protesting at the factory gates and filing petitions. But it also includes less confrontational and more individualised or family-oriented tactics aimed at minimising pollution in one’s immediate surroundings.

Anna Lora-Wainwright is Associate Professor of the Human Geography of China in the School of Geography and the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies at the University of Oxford. 

The Continuities of Colonialism

Professor Chong Yonghwan examines the continuation of Japanese colonialism through the policies against Japan’s Zainichi Korean Community before and after 1945. 

Time and place: Nov. 9, 2017 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, P. A. Munchs hus, Seminar room 12

They were called Zainichi Koreans

Upon Japan’s surrender to the Allied Forces, some 600,000 Koreans remained in Japan. They were called Zainichi Koreans.

After the liberation from Japanese colonialism, Zainichi Koreans founded ethnic organizations such as the League of Koreans known as “Chōren” in order to protect their human rights, suffrage, Korean language-based schools, and ethnic identity. Their social movement was actually closely tied to the social movements in the Korean Peninsula rather than simply being an ethnic minority movement within Japan.

The Japanese government, however, did not acknowledge Koreans in Japan as a liberated minority, but rather chose to continuously maintain what amounted to an extension of the colonial rule. Moreover, the American occupation authorities (GHQ/SCAP) endorsed these policies with the shaping of the Cold War.

In this presentation Prof. Yong argues that post-1945 Japanese policies shared characteristics with policies of the colonial era and he explains the continuities in the case of the suppression of the Korean schools.

Professor Chong Yonghwan is associate professor at the Center for Liberal Arts at Meijigakuin University since 2010.

Global Furusato: Japan, Myanmar, and an NGO’s work of making a global ‘home’

By Chika Watanabe, University of Manchester, Social Anthropology. 

Time and place: Sep. 28, 2017 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, P. A. Munchs building, 10

Chika Watanabe is a lecturer (assistant professor) in social anthropology at the University of Manchester.

The Organization for Industrial, Spiritual and Cultural Advancement (OISCA) is one of the oldest NGOs in Japan that derives from a Shinto-based new religious group. The NGO is known for its year-long training programs in sustainable agriculture and environmental education. This paper, taken from a forthcoming book manuscript, explores how Japanese and Burmese staff members at OISCA struggled to understand and enact the latest organizational mission of making a global furusato (“home-place” or “native place”). This particularist-universal vision aimed to create landscapes of human-nature coexistence in the image of a Japanese rural furusato around the world, as well as to instill in people everywhere the awareness that Mother Earth is our ultimate universal furusato. Staffers in Japan struggled to understand how they could translate this vision into practice, while staff members in Myanmar generally saw the training centers as their furusato but were not necessarily aware of the global mission. We see here how development aid work in this form involved engagements with contingent processes of deciphering visions into action, of finding the links between the means and ends of their work. The paper proposes frameworks for understanding development projects that emerge from a Japanese organization in an Asian regional context, decentering dominant analyses based on Euro-American case studies.

China’s Interests in Greater Central Asia and Locals’ Reactions

By Julie Yu-Wen Chen (University of Helsinki). 

Time and place: Aug. 31, 2017 12:00 PM–1:00 PM, P. A. Munchs building, 12

China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative in Greater Central Asia seems to show evidence of China’s goodwill and intention to integrate its neighbours into joint economic prosperity peacefully and cooperatively.

This lecture begins with a historical overview of China’s relations with Central Asian countries. Afterwards, this lecture compares a number of small-scale survey results conducted among university students in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. The surveys also gauge whether locals believe that the Chinese model of development can be useful for their countries’ growth, as Beijing has shown an interest in aiding the economic development of Central Asia. The empirical analysis shows that while Russia still has great influence in Central Asia, the surveyed future elites of Greater Central Asia believe that China’s role will become more and more important. In Kyrgyzstan, China faces the worst image problem, while its image in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan is not as negative as in Kyrgyzstan. In addition, most respondents believe that their countries should have their own model of development, not following the Chinese model entirely.

Julie Yu-Wen Chen, Professor of Chinese Studies, Department of World Cultures, University of Helsinki.

Authenticating the Past: Historical Disputes over South Korea’s Democratization

By Kyung Moon Hwang, University of Southern California. Open for all.

Time and place: May 16, 2017 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, P. A. Munchs building, 10

This presentation will provide an analysis of South Korea’s ongoing “history wars,” particularly surrounding the meaning of the country’s transition to democracy over the past four decades. Despite the broader liberalization of politics and society since formal democratization in 1987, the intensity and stakes of these conflicts reached another level altogether with the 2012 election of now former president Park Geun-hye, the daughter of a former dictator, and with her administration's efforts to intervene in these history disputes. Opposing historical interpretations of the country’s democratization reflect competing visions of collective identity, through an authentication of the past, that lie at the heart of the generational, ideological, and political divides in South Korea today.

About Kyung Moon Hwang

Kyung Moon Hwang is Professor in the Departments of History and East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA, where he teaches courses in Korean, East Asian, and world history. 

Melting glaciers, religious authorities and new connectivities in Himalayan communities

By Astrid Hovden (IKOS, UiO). 

Time and place: May 11, 2017 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, P. A. Munchs building, room 10

Himalayan glaciers appear to be retreating rapidly, and it is generally acknowledged that Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) constitute an increasing threat throughout the region. But little is known about the perspectives and the strategies of people in the communities at risk. During the last decade Limi, a community at the foot of the Gurla Mandhata Massif, has been struck by a series of GLOFs washing away houses, fields, pastureland and village infrastructure, and eroding the soil next to the 11th century monastery located at the heart of the village. In a confluence of events, these climate change-related floods are occurring at the same historical moment in which motorable roads, telephone connections and new governance modes are arriving in Limi, and the villagers have been using these new connectivities to reach out for aid and assistance.

While the understanding of GLOFs in terms of anthropogenic climate change is new, environmental hazards are not; the communities in the region have maintained records of their management of floods and other environmental challenges over many centuries. Climate-science-based research leading to development interventions in the Himalayas has seldom taken historical knowledge, local perceptions and decision-making into serious account. The need of such knowledge is recognised, but obtaining it and communicating it across scales remains challenging in practice.

Based on a combination of long term ethnographic fieldwork in Limi and a study of historical texts from both sides of the Himalaya, the presentation will first explore how environmental risks and disasters have been responded to in the past. Then, looking at the contemporary situation, the talk will discuss whether and how historical perceptions and strategies are changing with the introduction of new connectivities such as mobile telephony, roads, and exposure to the climate change discourse. Attention will be given to the ways religious and secular authorities and networks on regional and global scales are invoked and engaged in the local responses to environmental hazards, and to how the community navigates different systems of knowledge and different moral frameworks.

Under pressure: Chinese lesbian-gay contract marriages and their patriarchal bargains

Seminar by Elisabeth Lund Engebretsen. 

Time and place: Apr. 20, 2017 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, P. A. Munchs building, room 10.

This paper explores the phenomenon of contract marriages (xingshi hunyin) whereby a gay man and lesbian woman marry each other, in this way ‘faking’ heterosexual marriage by pretending to be straight in social and familial contexts, and living a lesbian/gay life tacitly ‘on the side’, in private. In recent years, the growing desire for a way out of the hetero-marriage imperative has spurred a considerable online and offline matchmaking industry within China’s lesbian and gay, or queer, communities. But does it work? On the basis of anthropological research in urban China since the early 2000s, Engebretsen argues that contract marriages serve as an ideal strategy against the omnipresent pressure to marry heterosexually and fulfill gendered norms for morally appropriate adult lives. In principle, these marriages seek to resolve the intense marriage pressure by faking it – indeed, for this reason it is often called ‘fake marriage’ or jiahun. This strategy has emerged as one (unintended) effect of growing individualization and China entering global trajectories of ‘gay rights’ discourses enabled by social media technologies and human travel, amongst other factors. Engebretsen’s material suggests that the contract marriage strategy actually reproduces difficult inequalities and creates new problems in people’s ‘married’ lives, especially for the women who are trapped by contemporary forms of patriarchy. Keeping up appearances, confronting sustained patriarchal gender norms in daily and family life, fending off the inevitable question of having a child, and still having energy to conduct ‘real’ same-sex romantic relationships, are found to pose considerable challenges to the long-term strategic success of contract marriage. Still, the newly available discursive space and practice of such marital strategies offer imaginative resources of hope, as well as concrete bargaining power for many. In this way, and even if imperfect, this ‘fake’ marital strategy poses a challenge to hetero-patriarchal ideals in contemporary Chinese society.

Elisabeth Lund Engebretsen is a senior lecturer in gender studies at the University of Oslo, Norway, and a researcher with the independent Forskerkollektivet.

Representation after 3.11: Reading Shin-Godzilla and Your Name (Kimi no na wa)

Seminar by professor Saeko Kimura, Tsuda University, Japan. 

Time and place: Apr. 6, 2017 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, P.A. Munchs building, room 6

The disasters of 11 March 2011 have been reflected in many novels, films and art, published or released not only in Japan but all over the world. There are some general tendencies, and we can categorize these works based on the themes they have in common. In this session, I will take up "Shin-Godzilla" and "Your Name" (Kimi no na wa), two hit films from 2016, to analyze the most recent and widely accepted reaction to the triple disasters of 3.11. In this context, I will also look at "In this corner of the world" (Kono sekai no katasumi ni). Some critics have claimed that especially the story of Your Name is too optimistic and denies the reality. I will discuss these claims and look at earlier works upon which these films draw. One of the characteristic features of literature and films after 3.11 is the existence of ghosts as protagonists. In this presentation, I will compare some of these recent hit films to earlier works containing ghosts.

South Korea in the United Nations: Global Governance, Inter-Korean Relations and Peace Building

Seminar by Gabriel Jonsson, Professor in Korean Studies at Stockholm University, Department of Asian, Middle East and Turkish Studies.

Time and place: Mar. 23, 2017 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, PAM, seminarrom 10

The presentation explains what the predictions of membership were at the time of South Korea’s UN admission in 1991 and analyzes whether thesepredictions have been fulfilled or not. First, the main characteristics of the two Koreas’UN policies and the global context in which they pursued the policies prior to becoming members in 1991 are explained. Second, post-1991 developments are explained in far more detail by first presenting what the predictions of South Korea’s membership were and then saying on the basis of six standards of evaluation selected on the basis of the referred literature whether the predictions have been fulfilled or not.

Unfolding the G20 Blue: Campaign-Style Enforcement and Air Pollution Reduction in Hangzhou city, China

Seminar by Yongdong Shen, postdoctoral fellow in the “Airborne” project at the University of Oslo.

Time and place: Mar. 9, 2017 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, Eilert Sundts hus, auditorium 5

To ensure blue skies greeting participants of the 2016 G20 Summit in China, the host city of Hangzhou and surrounding regional governments put a stunningly comprehensive action plan for controlling air pollution. Related temporary measures included, among other things, the halt of industrial production, the restriction of traffic, and the suspension of construction work. The way this action plan was formulated and implemented is reminiscent of a specific trait of Chinese authoritarian politics: resource mobilization under political sponsorship to achieve specific policy goals for a defined period of time.

This talk will analyze how administrative power and mandates were redistributed and resources were mobilized (interagency cooperation) during the campaign-style pollution control enforcement. It finally discuss whether campaign-style pollution control enforcement does obtain potential legacy in China.

Re-imagining the nation: Teacher education students’ perspectives on national citizenship in Japan

Seminar by Yuka Kitayama, postdoctoral fellow at University College of Southeast Norway.

Time and place: Feb. 23, 2017 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, PAM Seminarrom 1

The impact of globalization and global migration means that teachers in Japan face the challenge of teaching for social cohesion and citizenship in a fast changing social context. This study reports on a quantitative study of student teachers’ perceptions of diversity and citizenship in in Japan, comparing with Norwegian students. I investigated student teachers’ attitudes on migrants’ rights; their understandings of national citizenship; and how these attitudes connect to their day-to-day experiences. The survey findings are complemented by interview data from focus groups. The study finds that students have varied understandings of the salience of different criteria for the membership of national community: to be born in the country; to have a passport; to cherish national culture and tradition; or to be proud of being Japanese/Norwegian, for example. Factor analysis favoured distinct dimensions of national citizenship corresponding to ethnic and civic models of the nation. It suggests that a civic model of national citizenship is independent from an ethnic model in both countries, and thus there is a space to include people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds as members of the national community. Interview data revealed how teacher candidates’ perceptions of national citizenship are influenced by everyday experiences, such as encounters with minority pupils while on teaching practice and exposure to populist right-wing discourses.

Dangerous dumplings and poisoned frozen foods: Chinese 'food terrorism' in Japanese media

Seminar by Tine Walravens, Ghent University.

Time and place: Jan. 26, 2017 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, P.A. Munchs building, 10

Japan has been facing a series of domestic and international food related scandals in the 2000s, which made Japanese policy makers reform the national framework ensuring food safety. Paradoxically though, despite stricter control mechanisms and their (statistically proven) positive effects in Japan, the negative image of imported, and particularly Chinese food products is ubiquitous. Chinese tainted foods, whether actually ending up on the ‘Japanese table’ or not, are received by sensational media attention, and trigger anxious public opinion and harsh government rhetoric. The negativism related to Chinese foods in Japan has been analyzed as a function of deteriorating bilateral relations in combination with an increasing Japanese dependence on China for its food supply. Furthermore, while there has been an overall increase in the number of reported Chinese food scandals since the 2000s, broader Japanese perceptions of China, the related nature of media coverage of events in China – specifically food safety issues –, and the changing nature of Chinese food incidents have also played a key role.

This presentation will take a closer look at the media, which have been singled out as an important amplifying station in this phenomenon, contributing to enhanced risk perception among the public. Through a comparative content analysis of the media coverage of a Chinese-related food incident (the 2008 poisoned dumpling case) as opposed to a domestic one (the 2014 Aqli case) in two major Japanese dailies, I will shed light on the concrete ways in which the media’s role is manifested, drawing on the Social Amplification of Risk framework. I aim to show not only how food risks and responses are constructed and calibrated in media coverage, but also call into question the investigative role of the Japanese media by pointing out certain issues that were left out of range.

Tine Walravens has been a MEXT scholarship guest researcher at Keio University and is currently a PhD candidate and research assistant at the Institute of Japanese Studies at Ghent University.


Feelings Without Desire A Perspective on the Zhuangzi and Mengzi

In this lecture, David Machek propose that philosophical projects in the texts Mengzi and Zhuangzi can be understood in terms of a dichotomy between feeling and desire as two fundamental modes of the human agency. Open for all.

Time and place: Dec. 13, 2016 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, P. A. Munchs building, Seminarrom 4

Feeling is a quasi-perceptual sensitivity that, ideally, fully informs and motivates our agency. It is an activity that can be done better or worse, and the more one feels the better. Feeling is exemplified by the notion of “four sprouts” in the Mengzi, and by “listening by energy” in the Zhuangzi. In contrast, desire is marked by an insensitive over-eagerness and recalcitrant pursuit of personal gratification that has detrimental effect on the integrity of the self. The key desideratum of the progress to spiritual attainment is to develop one’s ability to feel and protect it from desires. This interpretive framework will provide an informative assessment of similarities and differences between these two influential texts of early Chinese thought, as well as contribute to our understanding of these texts in their own terms.

David Machek is a research fellow at the University of Bern specialising in ancient Greek, Roman and Chinese philosophy. 

Another Variety of Religious Experience Psychology and Property in Sōseki's Mon (The Gate, 1910)

Seminar by Michael Bourdaghs, University of Chicago. 

Time and place: Nov. 21, 2016 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, P. A. Munchs building, room 3

In constructing his ambitious scientific theory of literature, Natsume Sōseki relied primarily on two rising new disciplines: sociology and psychology. This lecture will explore his understanding of early twentieth-century psychology, in particular the later work of William James, such as Varieties of Religious Experiences (1902).

James's theories of consciousness relied, implicitly and explicitly, on certain assumptions about the nature of property ownership--assumptions that Sōseki's fictional narratives often seem to trouble. This lecture will focus particularly on the failed bid for religious awakening that dominates the concluding chapters of Sōseki's 1910 novel, Mon (The Gate). What are the psychological and propertied implications of this fictional depiction of the protagonist's abortive attempt to seek religious solace for the economic and emotional troubles that plague him? The lecture will argue that Sōseki here is experimenting with uniquely literary forms of selfhood and ownership that exceed the domain of scientific psychology.

Michael Bourdaghs is Professor of Japanese Literature and former Chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago. 

Marzia Varutti: Reinventing Indigenous Heritage in Taiwan

This seminar presentation discusses the recent and ongoing wave of indigenous revitalization in Taiwan, with a special focus on the revitalization of indigenous arts, crafts, and related knowledge and skills. Open for all.

Time and place: Nov. 17, 2016 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, P. A. Munchs building, room 15

Interestingly, most of this artistic and craft production is framed – by makers themselves, the market and museums – as ‘indigenous heritage’. But what does ‘indigenous heritage’ mean in the context of contemporary Taiwan? What are its prerogatives and significance?

In this seminar I endeavour to tackle these questions through an analysis of the discourses and practices of some of the main actors involved in this process of heritage-making – indigenous artists and artisans, and to a lesser extent, local and national museums as well as public authorities. I suggest that the nature of such discourses and practices legitimates that we talk of a ‘re-invention’ of indigenous heritage.

In the conclusions, I will try to place this discussion on indigenous heritage into the broader framework of contemporary cultural policies in Taiwan, and propose some critical reflections on the political implications of the current rise of indigenous heritage.

Marzia Varutti is Associate Professor in Museology and Cultural Heritage at the Centre for Museum Studies, IKOS.

Meditation and Morality Ledgers

Composite Self-Cultivation in China’s Late Míng Period. 

Time and place: Oct. 27, 2016 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, P. A. Munch building, room 4

Despite the prevalence of syncretism in Chinese religious practice being commonly recognized, there is a tendency among scholars to view self-cultivational techniques in isolation, or individuals as adhering to one particular type of self-cultivation or another. This method seems particularly ill suited when it comes to the Late Míng (c. 1530–1644), a period that saw Confucians sit down and meditate and Buddhist commentary on Confucian and Daoist classics.

This talk will concern itself with two prevalent self-cultivation methods in the Late Míng period, which are seldom mentioned together, and when they are, are habitually presented as standing in mutual opposition—one ’virtue’ or ’ideal-centred’, the other ’action’ or ’fact-centred’. The first is sitting meditation; the other that of keeping ’morality ledgers’ (a practice used by Confucians, Buddhists and Daoists alike to record and alter the practitioner's deeds, and, in some cases, for the accumulation of moral merit). By way of two case studies, I will demonstrate that these two popular methods, far from being mutually incompatible, featured together in a functional relationship in more than one seminal Late Míng thinker.

Gunnar Sjøstedt is lecturer in China Studies at the University of Oslo, currently teaching mainly Chinese history and Classical Chinese. 

Bringing the past to life

Heritagization and museumification in the cultivation of yabusame as Japanese "Dentō bunka" (traditional culture) and the unexpected parallel process of sportification. By Morgaine Wood, UiO. 

Time and place: Oct. 6, 2016 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, P. A. Munchs building, room 1

Putting aside the longer story of its historical context, if you were to try to explain what yabusame is in a few words, you might describe it as a form of mounted archery that in the modern period has served exclusively as a Shinto shrine rite and warrior ceremonial. It has also been performed almost as exclusively by two famous mounted archery schools since the Tokugawa period (1603 – 1868): the Ogasawara and Takeda Schools. Until just over a decade or so ago, this would have been an accurate, if oversimplified explanation, and it is an explanation that is still widely used today.

However, it no longer accurately reflects the reality of what yabusame is and what it means to people in the modern setting, and it belies the complexity of the ways in which actors both consciously and unconsciously interact with notions of tradition and authenticity in relation to its cultural (re)production. Furthermore, while Ogasawara and Takeda yabusame has fallen under the widely cast but somewhat exclusive net of the ideological and ethnocentric construct that is Dentō bunka (traditional culture), it has become impossible to ignore the recent proliferation of self-titled “sports yabusame” groups, “revived” yabusame schools, and reenactment groups.

With the first of these groups starting out in the 1980s, they exist today outside of the “official” category of traditional culture, but that does not mean that they seek any less to make intangible elements of the past tangible to themselves and to their audiences. While the Ogasawara and Takeda schools are popularly regarded as preservationists of yabusame as a part of Dentō bunka, within Japan and internationally, mounted archery as both a leisure and as a serious sporting activity has taken off with surprising momentum.

This development is influencing yabusame practice to a far greater extent than any past event has ever done before. These groups are diverse in their understanding of what their form of “yabusame” means to themselves and to each other, and it was my immense pleasure and privilege to talk with a number of these groups, including individuals from the Ogasawara school, in 2014 while doing fieldwork for my master's thesis.

This talk will draw from that research and discuss how processes of heritagization, museumification, and sportification have served to re-contextualize yabusame practice and performance in the modern setting.

Morgaine Wood is a doctoral student at the department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages (IKOS) at the University of Oslo.

(De-)Militarizing the Urban Entertainment Zone: The US Armed Forces in Seoul, South Korea

Seminar by Elisabeth Schober, about how US military and the thousands of US soldiers in South Korea has triggered much social friction. Open for all.

Time and place: Sep. 29, 2016 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, P.A. Munchs building, room 1

Over two thirds of the US military bases to be found in South Korea are located within or close to the Greater Seoul area, i.e. in one of the largest urban terrains of the world. In this megalopolitan context, the presence of tens of thousands of US soldiers has triggered much social friction.

Prostitution and crimes committed in adult entertainment areas near US bases have often been utilized by actors of the South Korean Nationalist Left as a symbol for the uneven relationship between the United States and this host nation. In such a way, acrimonious sentiments triggered by what I call “base encounters” have been amplified into a matter that touches upon vital national questions.

The violent imaginaries that surround the US military presence in the country also function as the backdrop against which actual relationships between US soldiers and civilians form.

In this paper, Elisabeth Schober will use ethnographic examples collected in two entertainment districts of inner-city Seoul - Hongdae and It’aewŏn - to look into how soldiers, local and foreign entertainers, Korean students and business owners, NGO people and Anti-base activists all hold rather different stakes in these neighborhoods.

Elisabeth Schober is a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo, part of the ERC-funded project “Overheating”. 

The Chilcot Report and Japan’s Role in America’s Wars

What does the Chilcot Report have to do with Japan? Presentation by Marie Thorsten, Doshisha University. 

Time and place: Sep. 22, 2016 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, P.A. Munchs building, room 1

In July 2016, the UK government released a 2.6 million-word multi-volume document, the Chilcot Report (formally the “Iraq Inquiry” chaired by Sir John Chilcot), assessing the British government’s role in the 2003 intervention in Iraq. What does this document, which took seven years to complete, have to do with Japan?

Japan’s role in the multi-nation “coalition of the willing” supporting the intervention was minimal compared to that of other countries, but pivotal on the domestic front because of Japan’s Constitutional prohibition against the use of force to solve military conflicts. As Japan proceeds with its newly legislated Constitutional reinterpretation allowing offensive military engagement for collective self-defense, its role in the largely discredited American and British-led “war on terror” has regained attention.

This presentation will look at Japan’s “soft” humanitarian role in its controversial participation in the Iraq War according to the findings of the Chilcot Report. It will also consider citizens’ reactions to the report and broadly discuss Japan’s participation in the war on terror (2004-2009) in light of its new security status.

Marie Thorsten is Professor in the Global Communications Faculty of Doshisha University (Kyoto), specializing in International Politics and Media Studies. 

A reluctant journey: Soviet Koreans Dispatched to North Korea and their Roles in the Soviet Occupational Period, 1945-1948.

This talk by Donghyun Woo, Seoul National University, touches upon Soviet Koreans and their dispatch to as well as their roles in the nation-building of North Korea especially during the Soviet occupational period from 1945 to 1948. Open for all.

Time and place: Sep. 19, 2016 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, Georg Sverdrups builiding, room 7

Ch'oe Chonghak inspecting the KPA with Lee, Peng, and Han in Aug 1953. Photo: From the Library of Congress

The ‘North Korean revolution’ did not correlate with ‘Sovietization’ and did not solely derive from self-reliant project of Kim Il Sung. Rather, there were multiple forces that caused the revolution to unfold in its own way, but Soviet Koreans have been omitted from this process in the official histories of the ‘Two Koreas.’

Drawing upon the memoirs of Soviet Koreans and primary sources, this talk aims to shed light on the rationale behind the Soviet Koreans’ moves to North Korea and its implications, as well as the role and historical character of Soviet Koreans in early stage of North Korea.

Mr. Donghyun Woo studied Modern Korean history at Seoul National University from 2007 to 2016. He completed his master’s thesis in 2016, which dealt with Soviet Koreans in North Korea from 1945 to 1950. 

Manga Hokusai Manga: Revisiting the Alleged Origin of Contemporary Japanese Comics

Dr. Jaqueline Berndt, professor of Japanese Language and Culture at Stockholm University, talks about the 19th century Hokusai Manga from the perspective of contemporary manga studies. 

Time and place: Sep. 15, 2016 12:15 PM–1:30 PM, Seminarrom 1, P. A. Munchs hus

In light of contemporary manga and their global proliferation, the 19th-century Hokusai Manga is attracting increasing interest. Fans as well as art historians tend to regard the pictorial compendium by ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai as the “origin” of Japanese comics. But the outward appearance of these two types of manga does not immediately suggest a continuous tradition which raises the question of whether present-day comics and the master’s “diverse drawings” converge only in Orientalist desire.

As distinct from previous attempts by both art historians and cultural-studies critics, this talk approaches the Hokusai Manga from the perspective of contemporary manga studies, interrelating the aspects of media, genre, pictorial storytelling, and participatory culture. With respect to presentation, visual comparison takes center stage.

About Jaqueline Berndt

Dr. Jaqueline Berndt is Professor of Japanese Language and Culture at Stockholm University and, until March 2017, Professor of Comics Theory at the Graduate School of Manga, Kyoto Seika University, Japan. 

A feminist encounter with Confucianism

In this seminar, Li-Hsiang Lisa Rosenlee, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Hawaii – West Oahu, discusses care ethics from a Confucian perspective. Open for all.

Time and place: Sep. 8, 2016 12:15 PM–1:30 PM, Seminarrom 1, P. A. Munchs hus

With the rising popularity of care ethics since the 1980s, we see a growing list of publications from both proponents and opponents in examining the impact of care ethics on the feminist movements. All the while, before Chenyang Li’s pioneering piece “The Confucian Concept of Jen and the Feminist Ethics of Care: A Comparative Study” (1994) that brought Confucianism into the discussion, the debate was by and large limited to the circle of western feminists. Since Li’s 1994 publication, there has been a furry of publications among sinologists to engage care ethics and to rethink the conceptual viability of Confucianism in its intersection with feminist discourse.

With this background in mind, my presentation here aims at, on the one hand, going beyond the question of compatibility or similarity between Confucianism and care ethics and on the other, engaging the feminist communities in reformulating Confucian ethics in order to adequately respond to the feminist demands for gender equity. In short, I am proposing a uniquely hybridized ethic of care that is feminist and Confucian at the same time. As the title of the presentation indicates, this is a feminist encounter with Confucianism, an imaginative project that aims at offering women of all colors distinctive Confucian conceptual tools to navigate the contours of their existential experiences in their search for liberation.

Beyond the Golden Pavilion: The Grand Urban Vision of Ashikaga Yoshimitsu in Medieval Kyoto

Historian Matthew Stavros, University of Sydney, explores the legacy of Kyoto's Golden Pavilion and its possible place in a grand urban plan. Open for all.

Time and place: Sep. 1, 2016 12:15 PM–1:30 PM, Seminarrom 1, P. A. Munchs hus

The Golden Pavilion is Kyoto’s most celebrated and well known architectural monument. It is a UNESCO World Heritage property and testament to the influence and affluence of the warrior-aristocrat Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (1358-1408). Despite the pavilion’s opulence and architectural originality, the attention given this single structure overshadows the history of a much more ambitious architectural legacy.

This lecture explores that legacy in search of a grand urban plan and, more important, the guiding principles that inspired Yoshimitsu’s monumental vision. Several interpretations will be proposed, including the possibility that Yoshimitsu sought to transform the medieval capital into an expression of sacred geography and himself into a Dharma king.

Reconsidering Peace Building in Northeast Asia: Historical Memory in China, Korea, and Japan

Ma Xiaohua (Osaka University of Education) and Mark E. Caprio (Rikkyo University, Tokyo) explore how Northeast Asian states have addressed their shared historical memory, with a particular focus on the influence of national museums. Open for all.

Time and place: Aug. 24, 2016 12:15 PM–1:30 PM, Seminarrom 3, P. A. Munchs hus

This joint presentation examines developments in how Northeast Asian states have addressed their shared historical memory over the last three decades, particularly the history that commemorates the delicate period of colonial occupations and wars of the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century (1894-1945).

The rising nationalist sentiment in the region from the 1980s encouraged China, South Korea, and Japan to rethink their own histories, and to criticize how their historical relations were portrayed in the textbooks of their Northeast Asian counterparts. A more recent development has seen particularly South Korea and Japan pressuring other states to “get this history correct” in their scholastic and scholarly publications. These “history wars” force a reconsideration of the role of a nation’s “national history.”

This presentation will devote particular attention to the function that national museums play in influencing historical memory, particularly in the way they weave war and victimization into the national narrative. It will offer other educational tools, such as scholastic textbooks, peripheral attention for comparison purposes. Through this examination of Northeast Asian historical controversy, the presenters hope to elicit discussion on how other regions deal with their conflicting national narratives.

About the presenters

Xiaohua Ma is an associate professor at Osaka University of Education. Her research focuses on World War II history and diplomacy, China-Japan-U.S. relations and foreign policy, confidence-building in the Asia-Pacific region, and the politics of memory. 

Mark E. Caprio is professor in the College of Intercultural Communication at Rikkyo University in Tokyo Japan. His research interests include assimilation policy, postcolonial legacies, and war and peace studies. 

"Hanoi on wheels: Emerging Automobility in the Land of the Motorbike" by Arve Hansen

This seminar features the changing practices and meanings of motorised mobility in Vietnam’s capitalist transition. Open for all.

Time and place: May 26, 2016 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, Niels Treschows hus, 12th floor

Vietnam's recent economic and social transformations are manifested in the streets of its capital city through millions of motorbikes and a rapidly growing presence of cars. While motorbikes still dominate traffic, the car has overtaken the throne as the main aspirational and positional good, and currently automobility is becoming progressively normalised. What can traffic and motorised mobility tell us about Vietnam's so-called "socialist market economy"? In this talk, based on "motorbike ethnography", Arve Hansen analyses the everyday geography of the "system of moto-mobility" as well as the social and material position of private cars in contemporary Hanoi.

Arve Hansen, a development geographer, is a researcher at Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo. 

"Pansidong" - Movie about 'Journey to the West'

The film was considered lost until of was found in the archives of the Norwegian National Library a few years ago. Open for all.

Time and place: Apr. 21, 2016 12:15 PM–2:00 PM, Niels Treschows hus, 12th floor

Known as The Spiders (Edderkoppene) Pán sī dòng (盘丝洞) premiered at the Colosseum Cinema in Oslo January 1929. It was most likely the first Chinese movie to be screened in Norway. The movie is an important one in the history of early Chinese cinema. It was considered lost until of was found in the archives of the Norwegian National Library a few years ago.

The movie is based on the Chinese classical novel Journey to the West from approximately 1590 and describes the Tang Dynasty Buddhist Monk Xuanzang (also known as Tripitaka) that travels to India to collect Buddhist scriptures.

Research librarian at the film section of the Norwegian National Library Maria Fosheim Lund will introduce the movie. She is a movie critic and and editor of the film magazine Wuxia. She holds a master degree in Film Studies from Columbia University and has worked at MoMA and the Museum of the Moving Image in New York.

The movie is silent, but the slides are in Chinese and Norwegian.

"War, the state, and the formation of the North Korean industrial working class, 1931-1960" by Owen Miller

How did Koreans become industrial workers in the first and second phases of industrialisation on the peninsula? 

Time and place: Apr. 14, 2016 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, Niels Treschows hus, 12th floor

This talk examines how Koreans became industrial workers in the first and second phases of industrialisation on the peninsula: under Japanese colonial rule, 1931-1945, and under the DPRK's post-Korean War heavy industrialisation, 1953-1960. While the political regimes of the Japanese colony and postcolonial DPRK were different, industrialisation occurred under similar conditions, characterised principally by war, state-led development and imperialism. Processes of proletarianisation also reveal similarities in the two periods, including the widespread use of forced mobilisation and immobilisation of workers and a bureaucratic apparatus supporting close control of labour. In addition to illuminating the lesser-known origins of industrial modernity on the Korean peninsula, this study contributes to the critique of conventional views about the role of 'free wage labour' under developing capitalism.

"Spontaneous Thought: Theories from China" by Michael Puett

This seminar features Professor Puett, the Walter C. Klein Professor of Chinese History from Harvard University. 

Time and place: Mar. 16, 2016 12:15 PM–2:00 PM, Niels Treschows hus, 12th floor

One of the more exciting recent developments in the social sciences and humanities has been the attempt to explore the enormous body of theory that has been generated in cultures throughout the world and to bring this body of indigenous theory into conversation with Western theory. This paper will attempt a small contribution to this larger project by discussing some of the indigenous theories concerning spontaneous thought that have developed in the Chinese tradition. He will argue that these theories from China have much to offer contemporary discussions.

"Japan in the Transnational Culture of Imperialism, 1868-1931" by John Hennessey

Theories of Colonial Association and Inter-Imperial Scholarly. Open for all.

Time and place: Mar. 9, 2016 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, Niels Treschows hus, 12th floor

Although it is often marginalized in postcolonial studies and imperial history, Japan was a concurrent and important player in the creation of the transnational colonial culture that developed around the turn of the 20th century.

This presentation will summarize an ongoing doctoral research project that attempts to highlight Japan’s engagement with globally circulating colonial ideas and practices. Through a comparative analysis of scholarly and popular texts aimed at international and Japanese audiences, the project investigates the origin and development of specific colonial ideas in Meiji- and Taishō Japan and their effects. In particular, it demonstrates that despite the fact that imperial Japan is commonly linked to assimilation, before 1931 the competing ‘school’ of colonial association also had powerful proponents in Japan at this time, consistent with trends in the other great empires of the age.

About John Hennessey

John Hennessey is a PhD Candidate in history at Linnaeus University (Växjö, Sweden), with affiliations to the Swedish National Research School in History and the Linnaeus University Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies. 

"Intimate Empire and its Aftermath" by Nayoung Aimee Kwon

"Intimate" cultural encounters between Korea and Japan during the colonial era (1910-1945) and their postcolonial erasure. 

Time and place: Mar. 3, 2016 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, P. A. Munchs hus seminar room no. 7

This talk examines "intimate" cultural encounters between Korea and Japan during the colonial era (1910-1945) and their postcolonial erasure. After the Japanese empire's collapse in 1945 at the behest of rising Cold War powers, new nation-centered histories in Korea and Japan actively erased these once ubiquitous but controversial cultural interactions that neither side wanted to remember. The shared but disavowed imperial encounter between proximate Asian neighbors and their still contested legacies offers a case study to illuminate entangled imperial relations in Asia.

About Nayoung Aimee Kwon

Nayoung Aimee Kwon is an associate professor of Korean and Japanese Cultural Studies in the Department of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, Program in the Arts of the Moving Image, and Women's Studies, at Duke University.


Saving the Japanese Albatross

East Asian Lunch Seminar: "Saving the Japanese Albatross: Wildlife and Sovereignty Conservation in Postwar Japan" by Paul Kreitman, Institute of Historical Research, University of London.

Time and place: Nov. 12, 2015 12:15 PM–2:00 PM, Niels Treschows Hus, 12th floor

Japanese attitudes towards albatrosses have shifted dramatically in the past century.

Beginning in the 1880s, systematic seabird culls propelled Japan's territorial expansion into the North Pacific, in the process pushing Diomedea albatrus to the brink of extinction. But after World War II ornithologists led by the Marquis Yamashina Yoshimaro managed to secure state recognition of the Japanese albatross as a "natural monument", transforming it into a symbol of the defeated nation's commitment to wildlife conservation.

This rush to demonstrate conservationist sensibility was motivated in part by a desire to assert postwar Japan's status as a "normal" nation in the eyes of the United States, in the hopes of recovering residual sovereignty over the occupied Ryukyu and Bonin Islands. But the Japanese state's postwar embrace of wildlife conservation also served as a novel way to assert sovereignty over uninhabited territory such as the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands.

By examining Japanese treatment of albatrosses on three islands - Torishima, Marcus Island and Kita Kojima - I explore the shifting, mutually constitutive practices of wildlife and sovereignty conservation in twentieth century Japan. These shifts are indicative of a broader global trend.

The Tail Wagging the Dragon?

Guest lecture by Gunter Schubert about cross-strait relations at the end of the Ma Ying-jiu Era. Open for all.

Time and place: Nov. 5, 2015 12:15 PM–2:00 PM, Niels Treschows Hus, 12th floor

Triggered by the Sunflower Movement in spring 2014, cross-strait relations have seen considerable change from the early years of the Ma Ying-jiu administration when a new era of cross-strait peace and integration was ushered in, bolstered by numerous bilateral agreements and intensifying human interaction across the Taiwan strait.

After the mass demonstrations and the occupation of Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan during three weeks in March and April last year, not only does the KMT face defeat in the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections (scheduled for January); as a matter of fact, the future of cross-strait relations is once again uncertain. How could that happen?

The lecture revisits the major achievements in Taiwan’s China policy during the Ma Ying-jiu era and offers an explanation of the visible limits concerning political rapprochement across the Taiwan Strait.

After the lecture and Q&A, Prof. Schubert will introduce the European Research Center on Contemporary Taiwan (ERCCT) at the University of Tübingen which promotes postgraduate social science research on Taiwan, most notably in the areas of politics and law, economics, society, security and cross-strait relations.

About Gunter Schubert

Gunter Schubert (舒耕德) holds the Chair of Greater China Studies at Tübingen University’s Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies. He is an internationally renowned expert on Taiwanese and Cross-Strait politics as well as on the PRC’s political system.

Modern Music and the Sounds of Taiwanese Forests and Mountains

Audio-visual lecture by Judy Wu with song performance by Hao-en Wu. Open for all.

Time and place: Oct. 15, 2015 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, Niels Treschows Hus, 12th floor

Judy Chin-tai Wu and Hao-en Wu will visit the East Asia lunch seminar. Welcome!

Judy Wu will discuss with us the interplay between natural sounds, aboriginal music and modern musical expressions, with photographs and sound bites from the culture and nature of Taiwan, as well as illustrations of Taiwan aboriginal music and its modern applications by Hao-en Wu

Judy Chin-tai Wu (吳金黛) is one of Taiwan’s foremost producers of independent music, focusing on the sounds of nature, as well as instrumental and ethnic music. She produced the first-ever Taiwanese sounds-of-nature album in 1999, sparking a trend for natural and ambient music in the country.

She has been awarded no less than four Golden Melody Awards (金曲獎), for best producer (2001), best children’s music album (2004), as well as best regional music album and best vocal performance (2005 and 2006). She has been nominated for best world music album at the Grammy Awards (2013) and was awarded best new age album at the Independent Music Awards (2013). She is also a cherished lecturer, with frequent performances in Taiwan and Mainland China.

Hao-en Wu (吳昊恩) is an up-and-coming young artist of independent music in Taiwan. Coming from the Puyuma (卑南) tribe, his music hovers between the ethnic music of aboriginal Taiwan, Han Chinese elements, and modern popular music. He has spent years with the Formosa Aboriginal Song and Dance Troupe, and he has taught Puyuma songs to children.

Hwang Sok-Yong

Guest lecture by Hwang Sok-Young. One of Korea's most renowned author. Open for all.

Time and place: May 21, 2015 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, Niels Treschows Hus, 12th floor

Hwanh Sok-Young was sentenced to seven years in prison for promoting exchange between artist in North and South Korea. 21 May he visits the East Asian lunch seminar.

Hwanh Sok-Yong was born in 1943 and is arguably Korea's most renowned author. In 1993, he was sentenced to seven years in prison for an unauthorized trip to the North to promote exchange between artists in North and South Korea. Five years later, he was released on a special pardon by the new president.

The recipient of Korea's highest literary prizes and shortlisted for the Prix Femina Etranger, his novels and short stories are published in North and South Korea, Japan, China, France, Germany, Italy, UK, USA and many more countries. Previous novels include THE ANCIENT GARDEN, THE STORY OF MISTER HAN, and THE GUEST.

In Korea he has recently published a new novel: Hesperus: The Star that Appears When Dogs Start to Beg for Food – a universal tale with a Korean flavour about the pains of growing up.

Movie screening by Kalle Fürst

Movie screening from a documentary on Johan Tidemann Johansen as a child in China, 1947, by Kalle Fürst.

Time and place: May 7, 2015 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, P.A. Munchs Hus, Seminarrom 14

Kalle Fürst (previously TV producer at NRK) will show previously unseen clips from an interesting documentary "Med Jesus i Kina" about Johan Tidemann Johansen and his childhood in Ankang, China.

Johan Tidemann Johansen has worked as missionary secretary of Frikirken. He grew up in Ankang, as son of the missionarys Margaret Johansen and Johan Tidemann Johansen senior. The filming of his childhood ( scenes from 1947) is the first color film to be made in this part of China, and show the life in the city, how people were dressed, and how the city was at that time.


"Drawing a Line Under the 'Old Normal' of Urbanization" by David Kelly.

Time and place: Apr. 29, 2015 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, Eilert Sundts Hus, Auditorium 2

The lecture focuses on the recent dismissal of Qiu He 仇和, former Party Secretary of Kunming.

It features a short version of the video documentary made by Kelly's colleague, Professor Zhu Xiaoyang 朱晓阳, of the struggle of a local community against Qiu's urbanisation policies.

Kelly adds his own analysis of this style of urbanisation, and the current attempts to reform it.

Made in Hong Kong, Created in China?

A study on creative brain drain from Hong Kong to Mainland China by Dr. Chow Yiufai. Open for all.

Time and place: Apr. 23, 2015 12:15 PM, Niels Treschows Hus, 12th floor

In this talk, Dr. Chow Yiufai will share some initial observations from his fieldwork on Hong Kong creative professionals now based in Shanghai and Beijing. Photo: Kenneth Lee.

Increasingly more people from Hong Kong’s creative industries have responded to the threats and opportunities brought forward by the ‘Rise of China’ and shifted their base to Mainland China.

  • What are their aspirations? What have they done or failed to do?
  • How have they experienced the new cultural and creative environment?

Affect Theory and Natsume Sôseki’s Kokoro

Reiko Abe Auestad will examine how focus on affect can complicate and problematize our understanding of the course of events in the novel, thereby questioning the standard, ethical reading which has dominated the critical discourse in Japan.

Time and place: Apr. 16, 2015 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, Niels Treschows Hus, 12. floor

In the past couple of decades, many critics in the humanities and social sciences have turned their attention to affect, in what some critics have identified as an “affective turn,” in the hope of drawing a more comprehensible picture of the social world and human interactions in it.

Reiko Abe Auestad will talk about its relevance on reading literature with Natsume Sôseki’s Kokoro as a case study. How can we read this most canonical work of modern Japanese literature differently by using affect theory?

South Korean landscapes of power

Apartments and the modern city in Seoul by Valérie Gelézeau. Open for all.

Time and place: Mar. 26, 2015, Niels Treschows hus, 12th floor

Largely unknown to city-dwellers before the 1960s, large apartment complexes (ap’at’ŭ tanji) are powerfully shaping the landscapes of contemporary South Korean cities. Some are now being memorialized by artists, planners or citizen themselves.

  • How did western-style housing blocks migrate to Korea on such a large scale?
  • To what extend do they reflect the power relations between the global and the local in South Korean cities?
  • What is currently at stake regarding the future of apartments in the contemporary post-industrial Korean society?

Combining the perspective of cultural geography and Korean studies, the conference will address those issues regarding the significance of South Korea as a “Republic of Apartments” (ap’at’ŭ konghwaguk), where apartment complexes have been the main architectural mediation of the Korean society to its urban modernity.

The Life of a Humble Translator: Recreating Worlds, Knowing Everything

Welcome to East Asian lunch seminar. Guest lecture by Ika Kaminka about translation. The lecture is open for everyone.

Time and place: Feb. 19, 2015 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, Niels Treschows House, 12th floor

Ika Kaminka has translated several books and in 2012 she won Bastianprisen for the translation of 1Q84, book 1 & 2 by Haruki Murakami. In this lecture she will give a talk especially concerning the peculiarities of Japanese culture.

Development of the Japanese version of modern retailing: an overview

This special lecture will overview the historical development of modern retail formats and consumption patterns in Japan, focusing on how the Western ideas influenced them and how Japanese marketers revised them to fit Japanese consumers and cultural conditions.

Time and place: Feb. 5, 2015 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, Niels Treschows House 12th Floor

This special lecture will overview the historical development of modern retail formats and consumption patterns in Japan, focusing on how the Western ideas influenced them and how Japanese marketers revised them to fit Japanese consumers and cultural conditions. The exploration of retail formats will include ‘keiretsu’ retailing, Japanese department stores, ‘super’ as a Japanese version of self-service stores, and convenience stores. The presentation will conclude that Japan looks to be so close to the West, and yet so far away.

Brief Bibliography

Kazuo Usui, Doctor of Commerce. Dean and Professor of Marketing, Faculty of Economics, Saitama University Japan, and Visiting Professor, the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. His major research field is macromarketing, especially, historical and comparative study of marketing and marketing thought. 


Xinjiang’s geographies in motion: The making of Han and Uyghur places at China’s northwestern border 

East Asian Lunch Seminar: Agnieszka Joniak-Lüthi, Post-doc Researcher, Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Bern, Switzerland.

Time and place: Dec. 11, 2014 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, Niels Treschows House 12th Floor

In the process of place-making, life experiences guide individuals to invest places with specific meanings. At the same time, ethnic and national collectives establish specific relationships with places; it is through this assignment of meaning that a place comes to be viewed as a “homeland,” “fatherland,” “native place,” “periphery,” “center” and so forth. Starting from the idea that places are socially constructed, in my talk I will explore how place is established and lived in Xinjiang by the members of the region’s two largest ethnicities, the Uyghur and the Han. While there are differences in the ways Han and Uyghur imagine and “live” Xinjiang, Uyghur and Han do not establish distinct spatial relationships just because of their ethnicity, but also to enhance ethnic solidarity and boundaries vis-à-vis the other. In the talk I will demonstrate that places are historically contingent, and discuss the ways in which the influx of Han migrants –and – Han capital has generated new layers of spatial meaning and new power differentials.

Treason in Two Republics: Comparing Political Retribution in China and South Korea 1945-1953

East Asian Lunch Seminar: In his talk, Konrad Lawson will discuss two elements that should have made for a very different politics of retribution in China and South Korea.

Time and place: Dec. 4, 2014 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, Niels Treschows House 12th Floor

After Japanese defeat in 1945 regimes in both Nationalist-controlled China and southern Korea carried out treason trials that, on the surface, appear to have much in common.

In both places, soon to be torn apart by civil war, anti-Communist regimes carried out retribution against accused collaborators while keenly aware that their Communist rivals were carrying out radical political and economic reforms in close coordination with their own campaigns to purify the nation of traitors.

This talk will consider two elements that should have made for a very different politics of retribution in each place:

  • The fact that, unlike China, Korea was a colony achieving liberation after decades of imperial rule
  • The critical role of the United States military government in Korea in crippling the retribution process and the innovative institutions designed to counter this.

This talk will argue that, despite these differences, the politics of retribution are remarkably similar in each place, including the tendency in the nationalist narratives of both countries to carefully manage the relationship between the question of collaboration and complicity in violence with Japan and that of collaboration and complicity in the violence of either side in the civil war to follow.

Konrad M. Lawson is a lecturer in modern history at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. 

Changing Patterns in the Salmon Trade between Norway and China: The use of Economic Sanctions

East Asian Lunch Seminar: In this talk, Chen Xianwen will discuss the changing patterns in the salmon trade between Norway and China, as a use of economic sanctions.

Time and place: Nov. 27, 2014 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, Niels Treschows House 12th Floor

Angered by the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s awarding of the 2010 Peace Prize to a Chinese dissident, China allegedly applied more stringent regulatory measures and import licensing procedures on Norway’s iconic product, salmon.

The alleged trade barriers have been widely reported in the media internationally, but there has been a lack of formal investigation from the scientific community.

The study to be presented in this East Asian Lunch Seminar aims to fill this gap. Through interviews with stakeholders in the Norway-China salmon trade and examination of trade data, it draws on personal accounts that corroborate the statistical evidence that non-trade border measures have been made more stringent and are disproportionately applied against Norwegian salmon.

These measures have distorted and largely changed China's fresh/chilled whole salmon market since 2011. Although these measures are likely to be temporary, it can be argued that the distortions to the market are likely to last in the long term. This research therefore contributes the first detailed case study to the increasingly active literature on China’s economic sanctions.

Xianwen Chen works at Handelshøyskolen.

Inclusive Local Administration in China

In this East Asian Lunch Seminar talk, Anna Ahlers (IKOS) will introduce a new research project aiming at a critical analysis of current types of "inclusive administration" in China and presents first findings from the field.

Time and place: Nov. 6, 2014 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, P. A. Munchs house, seminarroom 15

In China it is especially in the context of local administration where state authorities and the people 'meet'. These encounters are often contentious: in the absence of direct forms of public input into the overall policy making process beforehand, interest collision and intermediation has to happen at the very local level. Particularly over the last two decades we witness an increase in overt and even violent conflicts (over land taking, fee collection, public regulation, etc.) in different localities. But it is also at the local level that the Chinese political systems shows very adaptable and innovative and tests new ways of public communication and interaction, in order to reestablish trust, "manage society", control corruption, and effectively implement policies. In the administrative realm this includes new types of public hearings, residents' project management associations , cooperation with NGOs and private entrepreneurs, e-government, semi-formal conflict management, etc., which combine CCP ideology, international trends (such as New Public Management), and references to specialties of Chinese culture. This East Asian Lunch Seminar talk will introduce a new research project aiming at a critical analysis of current types of "inclusive administration" in China and presents first findings from the field.

Material Landscapes and Historiographic Trajectories in 1990s Kyongju, South Korea.

East Asian Lunch Seminar: In his talk Robert Oppenheim from the University of Texas at Austin will focus on how Kyongju, South Korea’s premier historic city, intersected with and channeled a variety of historiographic and ultimately civic projects, of various scales, in 1990s South Korea

Time and place: Oct. 30, 2014 12:15 PM–1:00 PM, Seminarroom 5, P. A. Munchs house

Kyongju is South Korea’s premier historic city, a place that compares itself to Xi’an and Nara among other East Asian “ancient capitals.”  It is replete with stone pagodas, temples (both reconstructed and in ruins), Buddhist statuary, sacred mountains, and other relics and monuments in the landscape—products, for the most part, of the Silla kingdom of the first millennium C.E.  The focus of this presentation is on how this historic terrain intersected with and channeled a variety of historiographic and ultimately civic projects, of various scales, in 1990s South Korea.  On a theoretical level, the argument is that these objects in the landscape were not merely “sites of memory” or history (lieux de memoire) to which meanings or interpretations attached, but rather that multiple versions of their own material character interacted significantly with historiographic practices.  The interior multiplicity of material contours through historic things, and the simultaneity of this “manyness” with the unity or “oneness” that things also possess, was crucial, I contend, to the configuration of politics.

Robert Oppenheim is Associate Professor in the Department of Asian Studies and current Director of the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. 

Natsume Sôseki and World Literature

East Asian Lunch Seminar: Annette Vilslev, University of Copenhagen, will give a talk on Natsume Sôseki and World Literature. NB! The location has changed!

Time and place: Oct. 23, 2014 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, Seminarroom 15 in P. A. Munchs house

This talk will concentrate on Soseki’s early novels, I Am a Cat and Kusamakura. Following Karen Thornber’s 2009-publication on the circulation of modern literature in East Asia, Annette Vislev uses the concept of transculturation to investigate his novels in relation to the world literary space of which they are part. Vislev does so to show how different styles, art forms and genres are critically appropriated, or transculturated in his work. With his background as a literary scholar and theorist, Soseki, she believes, provides us with extremely useful insights on how literature itself continues to negotiate its positioning in such world literary contact zones.

Annette Vislev is a part time lecturer at the Unviersity of Copenhagen.

Pollution and Health in China: Important Research Projects, Findings, and Research Methods

East Asian Lunch Seminar: Bryan Tilt, Oregon State University, will present the topic “Pollution and Health in China: Important Research Projects, Findings, and Research Methods.” The seminar starts with a short introduction by Mette Halskov Hansen to the interdisciplinary research project Airborne: Pollution, Climate Change and New Visions of Sustainability in China. 

Time and place: Oct. 16, 2014 12:15 PM–2:00 PM, Seminarroom 15 in P. A. Munchs house

This presentation is divided into three parts. In the first part, Professor Tilt will provide an overview of recent research on the environment and health in China and the challenges China faces as it balances rapid economic growth and environmental protection. In the second part, he will describe some of his recent research on industrial pollution and its health effects. A major focus of this research is on risk perception – how people perceive and understand the health risks from pollution. In the third part, Professor Tilt will share some practical lessons about research methods, and suggest that we need to think about these issues from an interdisciplinary perspective across the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

Bryan Tilt, is Associate Professor at the Oegon State University.

Transforming Tibetan villages: ongoing relocation and resettlement processes in Qinghai, PRC

East Asian Lunch Seminar: In this talk, Fjeld presents three different re-settlements in Rebgong (Tongren) county in eastern Qinghai and discusses some of the trajectories into these government houses. What are the social implications of becoming part of the re-location program? Central themes will be: poverty, caterpillar fungus, education and inter-generational relations.

Time and place: Oct. 9, 2014 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, 12th floor, Niels Treschows hus

Throughout the Tibetan plateau urbanization processes are rapidly transforming towns, villages and grasslands. Presented as poverty relief and grassland protection, re-location programs have been central to government policies in the Tibetan nomadic areas since mid-2000s. Implemented with various strengths and in various ways throughout the plateau, the re-location programs aim to sedentarize nomads and to bring them closer to administrative centres and markets. According to China Daily at least one million Tibetan nomads were already settled in 2012.

Heidi Fjeld is a researcher at the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo.

Patterns of Japanese War Memory as Depicted in Postwar Japanese War Films

East Asian Lunch Seminar: in his talk, Dick Stegewerns, will focus on the Patterns of Japanese War Memory as Depicted in Postwar Japanese War Films. Open for all.

Time and place: Sep. 25, 2014 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, 12th floor, Niels Treschows hus

During the allied occupation of Japan a strong regime of media control was in force, under which the Japanese film world was directed to make films dealing with the wartime period in a way that was in line with the American interpretation of a ‘Pacific War’ and the verdict of the Tokyo Tribunal. However, no sooner had the occupation forces left the country or the battle for the collective war memory of the Japanese people flared up. Films by leftist directors focusing on the grimness and cruelty of the war continued to be made, but they found a formidable foe in production companies such as Shin-Toho which started to portray the war in a more positive manner. In this lecture I will analyze the main themes and settings, and the historical background of this body of post-occupation Japanese re-enactments of the Second World War, and will trace continuities and changes with Japanese war films of the last ten years.

Dick Stegewerns is associate professor at the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages.

Chang Hyŏkchu (Noguchi Kakuchū) and the Twentieth Century, by John Treat

East Asian Lunch Seminar: In this talk, John Treat, Professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures at Yale University, will discuss the place of Chang Hyŏkchu (Noguchi Kakuchū) in 20th-century Korean-Japanese literature.

Time and place: May 21, 2014 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, Sem.rom 360, P. A. Munchs hus, Blindern

Chang Hyŏkchu, better known by his Japanese penname Noguchi Kakuchū, was born in Korea in 1905 and died at his home in Saitama Prefecture outside Tokyo, near the famed Koma Shrine in 1997. In between, his career paralleled the tumultuous history of the twentieth century, including the Japanese annexation and colonization of Korea, the Second World War, the Korean War, and the belated restoration of his literary reputation in the last decade of his life after long vilification as a collaborator. My presentation will focus on his 1975 autobiographical novel Poem in a Storm (Arashi no uta) as I try to understand his place in twentieth-century Korean-Japanese letters.

John Treat teaches modern Japanese literature and criticism, and occasionally Korean studies and LGBT studies. 

Movie night: A City of Sadness introduction by Yvonne Sung-sheng Chang

East Asian Lunch Seminar and East Asian Film Club: The first film to break the taboo regarding the massacres of the ruling party on Taiwan in the 1940s. English subtitles. Yvonne Sung-sheng Chang is Professor of Chinese Literature and Culture, The University of Texas at Austin.

Time and place: May 6, 2014 4:15 PM–7:00 PM, Arne Næss auditorium, Georg Morgenstiernes hus, Blindern

A City of Sadness is a historical drama by the famous Taiwanese film director Hou Hsiao-hsien. It tells the story of the Lin family during the "White Terror”, which took place after the Kuomintang government arrived from mainland China following Japan’s retreat from colonial rule of the island. Thousands of Taiwanese were shot or sent to prison, both during and after the February 28 massacre in 1947. A City of Sadness won the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival. It was filmed on location in Jiufen, an old gold mining town in northeast Taiwan, which has become a popular tourist attraction, partly due to the success of the film.

Yvonne Sung-sheng Chang teaches Chinese and Taiwanese film, literature and culture. She has published a number of books and articles on Taiwanese literature and has been President of the American Association of Chinese Comparative Literature.

The Juche Ideas - nationalism of Confucian origin? By Prof. Sergei O. Kurbanov

East Asian Lunch Seminar: In this talk, Prof. Sergei O. Kurbanov from the St.Petersburg University, Russia, will present a brief survey of formation history of North Korean Juche ideas. 

Time and place: Apr. 22, 2014 1:15 PM–3:00 PM, Niels Treschows Hus, Kafeteria 12. etg

Most of the international mass media portray North Korea as a “communist” country threatening the world. However, in reality North Korea is a country belonging to East Asian cultural area and the word “communism” has not been used there for decades.

The state system of North Korea is based on Juche 主體ideology. The meaning of the term Juche may be interpreted as “owner of everything existing” or “self-reliance.” The Juche ideas began its history as “creative application of Marxism-Leninism to the conditions of Korea” and transformed into a pure nationalistic ideology which has included some elements of traditional thought: Confucianism and some others.

The lecture by S.O. Kurbanov will present a brief survey of the formation history of North Korean Juche ideas and their subsequent transformation, including North Korean trends of 2013 – 2014.

Prof. Sergei O. Kurbanov is a full-time professor of the Faculty of Asian and African Studies of the St.-Petersburg State University, Director of the Institute of Interdisciplinary Study of Korea.

Chinese urban youth negotiating 'modern' womanhood

East Asian Lunch Seminar: In this talk, Fengshu Liu, associate professor at the Department of Education, UiO will talk about Chinese urban youth negotiating 'modern' womanhood.

Time and place: Apr. 9, 2014 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, Seminarroom 360, P. A. Munchs house

Fengshu Liu, Associate Professor, Department of Education, UiO

China has seen dramatic transformations in ideals of femininity since the late 1970s. This talk explores what it entails for young women of the only-child generation to construct ‘modern’ womanhood within a context of multiple and conflicting gender discourses. Based on life-history interviews in Beijing, the article on which the talk builds shows that both a ‘degendering’ and ‘(re)gendering’ of the female self ensued as the participants positioned themselves simultaneously as the ‘autonomous modern female’ and the ‘dependent modern female’. It is suggested that despite some commonalities with the western middle-class neoliberal girlhood, this reflects a particular Chinese ‘dual’ approach to modernity that defies a standard/western notion of modern girlhood.

Changes in the North Korean Cultural Policy in the 1980s, By Prof. Sonja Häussler

East Asian Lunch Seminar: In this talk, professor Sonja Häussler from Stockholm Universitet, Sweden, will discuss  changes in the North Korean Cultural Policy in the 1980s.

Time and place: Mar. 19, 2014 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, 12th floor, Niels Treschows hus, Blindern

In the 1960s, the North Korean authorities imposed rigorous restrictions in the cultural sector which confined artists and authors to an almost exclusive concentration on the achievements and merits of Kim Il Sung, his “revolutionary family” and his comrades during the anti-Japanese struggle. Thereafter publicized works dealt only with a few other topics, mainly heroic tales of the Korean War and socialist construction, and these put the main focus on the wise guidance of the Great Leader. At the end of the 1970s and in the beginning of the 1980s, however, signs of changes in North Korean cultural policy became evident. The guest lecture will discuss a number of new or reintroduced phenomena in the fields of literature, folklore and cinema which came to constitute major currents of cultural life in the following decades. Based on personal observations as a foreign exchange student as well as later research on North Korean literature and cultural heritage policy, the lecturer will in particular try to reveal the strategies and mechanisms how modifications, alterations or even total revisions in certain aspects of culture have been made and how they were presented to the people.

Prof. Sonja Häussler: Sonja Häussler is professor of Korean language and culture at Stockholm University. 

Why Romanize Japanese? Introducing the Oxford Corpus of Old Japanese

East Asian Lunch Seminar: In this talk, Bjarke Frellesvig will briefly introduce the Oxford Corpus of Old Japanese, that is to say, the oldest texts written in Japanese. Open for everybody.

Time and place: Mar. 5, 2014 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, 12th floor, Niels Treschows hus

In this talk, Bjarke Frellesvig will briefly introduce the Oxford Corpus of Old Japanese (abbreviated ‘OCOJ’), which is a heavily annotated digital text corpus containing all extant texts in Japanese from the Old Japanese period (mainly the 8th century AD), that is to say, the oldest texts written in Japanese. These texts in a sense represent or reflect a foundational stage of Japanese culture in the widest sense, and they are of great importance to anyone interested in the language, writing, literature, religion and beliefs, and/or history of early Japanese civilization. Frellesvig will talk briefly about general features of the OCOJ and its relevance to students and scholars working within East Asia.

One feature of the OCOJ is that the texts in the corpus are romanized, in addition to representing the original script of the texts, and one question which is often asked about the OCOJ is “Why is the OCOJ romanized?”; or, more generally, why should we romanize a corpus of Japanese? This is, at least superficially, a natural question, given that Japanese has a widely used and reasonably successful indigenous writing system. It is also a question which is relevant to other East Asian textual traditions: Why should we romanize texts written in the various East Asian scripts? Or shouldn’t we?

In this talk Bjarke Frellesvig will address these questions and try to give some answers. He will try to show that the arguments in favour of using, or at least including, a romanized transcription of Japanese texts when working with them are powerful and persuasive.

Tibetan Medicine and the Representation of Traditions and Modernities: Shrine Rooms and Museum Exhibits in Lhasa

By Theresia Hofer, Postdoctoral Researcher, Section for Medical Anthropology, University of Oslo. The seminar is open for everybody.

Time and place: Feb. 19, 2014 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, Niels Treschows hus

At present, Tibetan medicine is one of the liveliest forums for the expression of Tibetan culture, identity and language in Tibetan areas of China, where it is particularly popular in urban areas. Building on theories about museums and national identity formation as well as  “civilizing projects”, “ethnic medicine” and modernity in the context of China and Tibet, this seminar explores why exhibitions and displays on Tibetan medicine are relevant sites to understand broader issues of transformation and modernisation in Tibet.

The presentation will describe various displays of material aspects of Tibetan medicine, such as instruments, books, thangkas, photographs and saintly figures, as found in hospitals, colleges and pharmacies in the contemporary Tibet Autonomous Region. It analyses these within two kinds of spheres of representation. One provides a contemplative experience for medical professionals, who seek to revere Buddhist ways of knowing and saintly figures of the past, especially the Medicine Buddha. The other sphere uses the techniques and didactic means of modern museums and is accessible to the wider public. While the first contemplates a relationship with the deep past of the medical and Buddhist tradition, the latter’s salient features are the promotion of “progress” of Tibetan medicine in tandem with communist reforms, the “scientific” character of traditional medicine, and, in some cases commercial interests.

This presentation reveals representations of Tibetan medicine in Lhasa as a dynamic arena where Tibetans make active choices about their relationship to Tibet’s past and Tibetan medicine’s emerging futures, yet acknowledges the limitations in such Expressions.

Lust, Commerce and Corruption: An Account of What I Have Seen and Heard - by an Edo Samurai.

East Asian Lunch Seminar: in his talk, Mark Teeuwen will focus on the place of lust, commerce and corruption in Buyō's understanding of Edo society. The seminar is open for everybody.

Time and place: Feb. 5, 2014 12:15 PM–1:15 PM, Niels Treschows hus, Blindern

By 1816, Japan had recovered from the famines of the 1780s and the political reforms of the 1790s, and the country seemed to be entering a new era of growth and prosperity.  The idea that the shogunate would not last forever was far from everybody's mind.  Yet, in that year, an anonymous samurai (with pseudonym "Buyō") completed one of the most comprehensive social critiques of Edo society known today.  He expresses a profound despair with the state of the realm and the changing "mental disposition" of the people.  He sees decay wherever he turns and believes the world will soon descend into war.

Published Mar. 2, 2022 3:41 PM - Last modified Mar. 2, 2022 3:41 PM