“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

Jennifer-Bruno-with-Joshua-Roth-262x320

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...]

A Conversation with Christine Yano

Christine Yano with Heidi Lam

Heidi Lam (HL): You’ve been making the rounds of the internet lately as the anthropologist who was told that Hello Kitty is not a cat.  How does that feel? Christine Yano (CY): I framed the book Pink Globalization in terms of headlines, because I’m talking about celebrity and iconicity through material and commercial culture.  And then I became a part of it.  I was terribly … [Read more...]

Conference on “Visual Anthropology and Contemporary Chinese Culture”

Conference on “Visual Anthropology and Contemporary Chinese Culture”

The Minzu University of China hosted China's first conference on “Visual Anthropology and Contemporary Chinese Culture” on June 21-22 in Beijing. Anthropologists, filmmakers, and NGO representatives from America, Germany, Mainland China, and Taiwan offered diverse perspectives that sought the theoretical and practical development of visual anthropology as an important lens to … [Read more...]

Semi-Native Anthropologist?: Fieldwork Encounters and Positionality in An Ethnic Village in Southwest China

My village hostess wearing the Buyi traditional costume and displaying batik-drawing during an annual Buyi festival. Photo courtesy of Yu Luo.

By Yu Luo (Yale University) During the initial stage of my fieldwork, I spent most of my time learning how to draw Buyi ethnic batik with my village hostess, while watching Korean idol dramas dubbed in Mandarin. Perhaps commonly seen elsewhere, this scene nonetheless does not merely represent the globalizing circulation of Korean dramas, or mass media alike, to a remote corner … [Read more...]

Evolving Funerals in Japan

Funeral hall in an Osaka suburb 
/Courtesy of Yohko Tsuji

By Yohko Tsuji (Cornell University)   In 2013, I attended a funeral of the Yamada family in an Osaka suburb. The deceased, age 89, was the widow of the family head whose funeral in 1992 provided the data for my article on Japanese mortuary rituals (Tsuji, “Mortuary Rituals in Japan: The Hegemony of Tradition and the Motivations of Individuals” Ethos 34(3), 2006). … [Read more...]

Interview with Junko Kitanaka, 2013 Hsu Book Prize Recipient

Junko Kitanaka (Keio University). Photo courtesy of Junko Kitanaka

Junko Kitanaka was awarded the 2013 Frances L.K. Hsu Book Prize for her book Depression in Japan: Psychiatric Cures for a Society in Distress. Heidi Lam: What drew you to the issue of how depression has been defined in Japan? Junko Kitanaka: Since my undergraduate days, I have always been interested in how people placed in extreme situations can still find meaning in … [Read more...]

2013 David Plath Media Award: 农家乐 Peasant Family Happiness

Video still from 农家乐 Peasant Family Happiness (2013). Courtesy of Jenny Chio.

By Jenny Chio (Emory University)  Whenever I have been lucky enough to discuss my film, 农家乐 Peasant Family Happiness, after it has been screened, I’m usually asked a series of questions about my motivation for making a film, the relationship of the film to my larger research project, whether or not life in the two villages depicted has changed, and how village residents … [Read more...]