Fall 2000 Colloquia Series

The following colloquia were held during the Fall 2000 semester.

August 30: Mark McNally, History, UH Manoa
"The Sandaiko Debate: The Intellectual and Social Transition from Philology to Eschatology in Tokugawa Nativism"
Dr. McNally will focus on a debate among Tokugawa nativists over the orthodox interpretation of Japan's mythological origins, as recorded in the imperial histories the "Kojiki" and the "Nihongi." One scholar, under the influence of Western astronomy, sought to interpret these legends in a scientific way, arguing that nativists had to interpret the ancient accounts metaphorically. Nativist leaders, however, sharply criticized him for these assertions; they believed that since the ancient histories were sacred, the only valid interpretation had to be literal. The famous nativist, Hirata Atsutane, joined this debate at the beginning of the nineteenth century. He sided with the scholar who advocated a more scientific approach to the ancient myths, only he was motivated not by an interest in science, but by his own interests in scholarship on the afterlife and the supernatural. Atsutane proceeded to redirect the energies of nativists away from literary and philological scholarship, creating a struggle for orthodoxy within the nativist movement of Tokugawa Japan, one in which he and his followers eventually prevailed.

September 13: Caroline Sinavaiana-Gabbard, English, UH Manoa
"At Play in the Fields of Cultural Identity: John Kneubuhl s Polynesian Theater at the Crossroads"
Many in the Pacific region connect the name of Samoan-American playwright John Kneubuhl primarily with his later work, including Think of a Garden (1991), A Play, A Play (1990), or Mele Kanikau (1975), which explores themes of Polynesian culture and gender as fluid categories in a context of neocolonialist dynamics. Not so many are aware of his groundbreaking work in the late 1940's to establish an indigenous Pacific theater in post war Honolulu. Or that he spent 20 years in Hollywood writing for blockbuster television series like The Wild Wild West, Mission Impossible and Star Trek. This paper considers ways in which the late work plays with dymanics of "slippage" among culture/gender identities in late 20th century Oceania

September 27: Peter Hoffenberg, History, UH Manoa
"The Holocaust Memorial in Berlin: An Architectural and Historical Controversy"
Berlin’s memorial to the victims of the Holocaust is known officially as the "Memorial to the Jewish Victims of the Nazi Regime," or "The Monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe." It is one of a growing number of physical commemorations in Germany to the Holocaust, but, unlike most of them, it remains unbuilt. This talk will focus on the political, cultural and artistic controversies surrounding the memorial as they have developed over the past decade. In particular, the talk will situate the memorial in several contexts: the political culture of post-war Europe, the allegedly "new" Germany and its allegedly "new" capital city of Berlin, and the modern compulsion to build monuments to human catastrophes.

October 11: Quetzil Casta┐eda, Anthropology, SUNY - Albany
"Installation Art and Ethnographic Fieldwork: Transcultural Research on Modern Maya Art (The Ah Dzib P zte Project)"
The presentation - using video clips, slides, and some objects to be passed around - is an ethnographic reporting of a research project on Yucatec Maya art from an Indigenous community located near the archeological site of Chich■n Itzł, Mexico. The talk establishes the context of the research from 1997 through 1999. The research program includes community creation of an annual art exhibit in town, a workshop for artists on Maya hieroglyphs, and an international exhibition of Maya art in the USA. This installation included not only an exhibition of the art, but a series of student workshops with five visiting Maya artists and a Forum with Art Critics, Art Historians and Museum Anthropologists. The central part of the talk focuses on this event, specifically its theoretical, methodological, and applied dimensions; the focus is on issues of interdisciplinary cultural studies based in ethnography, performance art, museum curation, and theatre.

October 25: Paul Millar, English Literature, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
"Waltzing My Culture: Literature and the Antipodean Identity Crisis"
Much of the Australian and New Zealand literature of the early twentieth century illustrates a confusion of identity arising as members of the settler culture discovered they were aliens in England; the country that they had been conditioned to call 'Home' by imperial theorizing and myth-making. The apparently easy transference of the English cultural tradition was a necessary fiction for preserving the colonial's ties with England and fashioning an identity committed to maintaining the Empire. Few settler families understood that in the context of the Empire's cold war with its colonized possessions they were collateral damage-their deracination, and that of their descendants, imperialism's necessary cost. Many who did return to the (imagined) seat of their culture, discovered that the vaunted interrelationship between the imperial center and its colonial limbs was in fact fiction.
The literary record of the antipodean settler's estrangement from England, and contingent identification with the colony of their birth, reveals a series of negotiations performed by the individual at the boundaries of culture. Focussing primarily on writers from Aotearoa/New Zealand, Paul Millar argues that the primary purpose of such negotiations is to resolve issues of identity and authenticity that have become complicated by the necessary evasiveness and mendacity of the colonial process.

November 15: Joe Tobin, Education, UH Manoa
" 'Nintentionality' or Pikachu s Global Adventure "
Pokemon (or "poketto monsuta" or "Pocket Monster") is one of Japan's most profitable and popular exports. Beginning as a Nintendo Gameboy game, Pokemon now is a franchise that includes a card game, a television show, movies, and a series of collectibles, such as stickers and small toys. Pokemon sales are huge, not just in Japan, but also in Asia, North America, and Europe. This talk will explore the aspects of Pokemon's global impact.

November 29: Lisa Yoneyama, Literature, University of California, San Diego
"Against the Bourgeois and National Bodies: Yu Miri and Queer Domesticity"
While Korean writers had always been integral to the modern Japanese literary establishment since the colonial period, a number of Japanese-Korean women writers in recent years have gained much visibility in literary and other cultural domains. What does their commercial as well as critical success mean, when juxtaposed to the structural marginalization of racial and other minorities in Japan? What are the implications of the prominence of these diasporic writers within the context of Japan's official and corporate multiculturalism? The paper explores these questions by examining the writings by Yu Miri, a highly awarded third generation ethnic Korean woman whose texts have always been dominated by the themes of dysfunctional families and unconventional sexuality.

December 6: Kathryn Besio, Geography, UH Manoa
"Locating Bodies in the Map: Colonial and Postcolonial Cartographies in Northern Pakistan"
This talk examines colonial maps and mountaineers' and explorers' travelogues and guide-books, to elaborate on a geographical history of a village in Northern Pakistan. This history establishes a social and historical context for the increasing interactions between adventure travelers and villagers in a post-colonial context. Unlike today, early travelers were few in the Karakoram, though they produced numerous maps and representations that apparently overlook the embodied processes of surveying and map-making. These maps hide as much as they reveal about the landscapes of the Karakoram and the history of adventure travel in Baltistan.