Interview with the 2014 Hsu Book Award Recipient Manduhai Buyandelger

  Tragic Spirits: Shamanism, Memories, and Gender in Contemporary Mongolia written by Professor  Manduhai Buyandelger (MIT) won the 2014 Hsu book Prize. Tragic Spirits illustrates how shamanism has been revived by the Buryat people in Mongolia after the collapse of socialism and the further impoverishment of this marginalized ethnic group under the pressures of … [Read more...]

An Interview with Gavin H. Whitelaw

Gavin H Whitelaw with Alyssa Paredes. Photo courtesy Alyssa Paredes

By Alyssa Paredes (Yale U) Alyssa Paredes (AP): What experiences led to your interest in studying convenience stores, or konbini, in Japan? Gavin H Whitelaw (GW): The first of the big convenience store chains began expanding in Tohoku when I was a teacher in rural Yamagata. I became a denizen of Sunkus, FamilyMart and Lawson. They gave me a place to go and get things … [Read more...]

Occupational Ethnography in the Taiwan Sunflower and Hong Kong Umbrella Movements

Sunflower-Occupied Legislative Yuan, 1 April 2014. Photo courtesy Ian Rowen

By Ian Rowen On March 18, 2014, several hundred Taiwanese student and civil activists broke into the Legislative Yuan, the parliament of the contested island nation, launching the Sunflower Movement, a protest against the ruling Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and aligned business elites’ alleged collusion with authoritarian China to pass a highly controversial trade … [Read more...]

Occupy between Surveillance and Transparency

An iPad was filming the occupation and broadcasting it online via video streaming technology. Photo courtesy Slipper Family.

Meichun Lee An iPad, fixed by a pair of slippers on the second floor of the Legislative Yuan (the congress of Taiwan), was shooting down the chamber with its lens. On the screen of the iPad, a big banner reading “Occupy 500 Hours” covered the bottom of the portrait of Sun Yat-Sen, the national father of Republic of China, otherwise known as Taiwan, hanging high on the wall. … [Read more...]

“Be Realistic, Demand the Impossible:” The Politics of Aesthetics and Hong Kong’s “Umbrella Movement”

Hai Ren

“Be realistic, Demand the Impossible!” is a text attached to a bike during Hong Kong’s “Umbrella Movement” (September to November 2014). BBC News comments: “It’s getting hard to tell what is art and what isn’t. Is this a mode of transport with a slogan attached, or a piece of artwork that you can ride?” (“In Pictures: Hong Kong Protest Art.” October 16, 2014. … [Read more...]

SEAA 2014 AAA Meeting Highlights

At the SEAA business meeting. Image courtesy SEAA

By Heidi K. Lam (Yale University) SEAA-Sponsored Panels The Society for East Asian Anthropology (SEAA) sponsored 22 panels at the 113th AAA Annual Meeting in Washington DC. Of these panels, 12 engaged with topics across East Asia, six in China, two in Korea, and two in Japan. Three of the panels were poster sessions. The panels touched on a wide range of pertinent themes, … [Read more...]

Interview with Joshua Hotaka Roth

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By Jennifer Bruno (Yale University) and Joshua Hotaka Roth (Mt. Holyoke College) Jennifer Bruno: What inspired you to undertake your research with Japanese Brazilian migrants in Japan? Joshua Hotaka Roth: There was a lot of excitement about globalization and transnationalism when I was in graduate school in the early 1990s. I had befriended several Japanese Brazilians … [Read more...]

Space of Mediation: Why Do International Labor Recruiters in China Charge So Much, and Why are They Difficult to Regulate?

A recruitment fair held by a private recruitment company in Shenyang, northeast China, 2008 (by Biao Xiang)

Biao Xiang Unskilled Chinese workers pay an average of US$8,000 (including US$ 3,000 “security bond” that would be confiscated if they violate any rules) in 2010 to secure a job in Japan, Singapore and South Korea, their top three choices. The high costs of international labor migration worldwide, but especially in Asia, have recently attracted high-level policy attention. … [Read more...]

2014 Plath Media Award: Playing with Nan; Honorable Mentions

Kharel Playing with Nan

Playing with Nan Dipesh Karel (University of Tokyo) and Asami Saito (Media Help Line, Kathmandu) 2013, HDV, color, 88 minutes Synopsis:  Playing with Nan is the story of a young Nepali man who migrated to work in a Nepali restaurant in northern Japan. The film explores his daily life at work and his family at home, which reflects socio-cultural problems related to … [Read more...]

2014 Hsu Book Prize: Tragic Spirits

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Tragic Spirits gives us a mesmerizing depiction of the revival of shamanism among the Buryats of Mongolia under tragic circumstances.  Facing life-threatening economic misfortunes in an era of neoliberal reform, Buryats turn to shamans to explain the causes of their hardships.  The shamans explain their clients’ bad fate in terms of neglected ancestral spirits and it is here … [Read more...]