Arguing against the popular stereotype of Japan as a non-litigious society, an international group of contributors from Japan, Taiwan, Germany, and the U.S. explores how in Japan and its colonies, as elsewhere in the modern world, law became a fundamental means of creating and regulating gendered subjects and social norms in the period from the 1870s to the 1950s. In Gender and Law in the Japanese Imperium, the authors suggest that legal discourse was subject to negotiation, interpretation, and contestation at every level of their formulation and deployment.
With this as a shared starting point, they explore key issues such reproductive and human rights, sexuality, prostitution, gender and criminality, and the formation of the modern conceptions of family and conjugality, and use these issues to complicate our understanding of the impact of civil, criminal, and administrative laws upon the lives of both Japanese citizens and colonial subjects. The result is a powerful rethinking of not only gender and law, but also the relationships between the state and civil society, the metropole and the colonies, and Japan and the West.
In Dilemmas of Adulthood, Nancy Rosenberger investigates the nature of long-term resistance in a longitudinal study of more than fifty Japanese women over two decades. Between 25 and 35 years of age when first interviewed in 1993, the women represent a generation straddling the stable roles of post-war modernity and the risky but exciting possibilities of late modernity.
Rosenberger’s analysis establishes long-term resistance as a vital type of social change in late modernity where the sway of media, global ideas, and friends vies strongly with the influence of family, school, and work. Women are at the nexus of these contradictions, dissatisfied with post-war normative roles in family, work, and leisure and yet—in Japan as elsewhere—committed to a search for self that shifts uneasily between self-actualization and selfishness. The women’s rich narratives and conversations recount their ambivalent defiance of social norms and attempts to live diverse lives as acceptable adults. Dilemmas of Adulthood is essential for anyone wishing to understand how Japanese women have maneuvered their lives in the economic decline and pushed for individuation in the 1990s and 2000s.
November 2013, 224 pages, 2 illustrations
$24.00; ISBN: 978-0-8248-3696-2, Cloth
$50.00; ISBN: 978-0-8248-3887-4, Paper
On Friday, October 18, 12:30–2:00 pm, author L. Ayu Saraswati, assistant professor in women’s studies at UH-Manoa, will speak on the topic of her book, Seeing Beauty, Sensing Race in Transnational Indonesia. Dr. Saraswati recently received the 2013 National Women’s Studies Association Gloria Anzaldúa book prize for her work, which explores and analyzes Indonesia’s changing beauty ideals.
Sponsored by the UHM Women’s Studies Colloquium Series and the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, the free event will take place in Saunders Hall 244. University of Hawai‘i Bookstore will have books available for purchase. The public is invited to the talk, followed by a book signing and refreshments.
The Summer 2013 issue of Hyphen Magazine (#27 – The Sex Issue) has an interview with Amy Sueyoshi on her book, Queer Compulsions: Race, Nation, and Sexuality in the Affairs of Yone Noguchi.
Stephen Hong Sohn’s Asian American Literature Fans Megapost blog review for May 31 included one for Relative Histories: Mediating History in Asian American Family Memoirs by Rocío Davis. (Look for the third title from the top.)
There’s still time to donate to an IndieGoGo project to raise money for a CD of 26 original and unique songs inspired by the poetry of the late Wayne Kaumualii Westlake. UH Press published the posthumous 2009 collection, Westlake: Poems by Wayne Kaumualii Westlake (1947-1984).
Robert J. Cabin, author of Restoring Paradise: Rethinking and Rebuilding Nature in Hawai‘i, wrote a related article in Earth Island Journal on successful ecological restoration projects. He also addressed questions on restoration ecology in an article earlier this year in American Scientist, titled “Nature Is Dead. Long Live Nature!” (Full article requires subscription or institutional access.)
In Indonesia, light skin color has been desirable throughout recorded history. Seeing Beauty, Sensing Race in Transnational Indonesia, by L. Ayu Saraswati, explores Indonesia’s changing beauty ideals and traces them to a number of influences: first to ninth-century India and some of the oldest surviving Indonesian literary works; then, a thousand years later, to the impact of Dutch colonialism and the wartime occupation of Japan; and finally, in the post-colonial period, to the popularity of American culture.
“In this book L. Ayu Saraswati offers a lucid and compelling accounting of how ideas of beauty and race circulate and become affective in transnational Indonesia. Offering a distinctive approach to global culture as an affective domain, as well a sharp and nuanced critique of histories of whiteness, this book will be of tremendous value to all scholars and students interested in unlearning the affective and aesthetic scripts of race.” —Sara Ahmed, Professor of Race and Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London, and author of On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life (2012)
Southeast Asia: Politics, Meaning and Memory
March 2013 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3736-5 / $25.00 (PAPER)
On Saturday, January 19, 2:00 p.m., SFSU associate dean Amy Sueyoshi will appear at the Japanese American National Museum for a reading, discussion, and signing of her book, Queer Compulsions: Race, Nation, and Sexuality in the Affairs of Yone Noguchi. In advance of her talk, JANM’s Discover Nikkei online network has published an in-depth interview by Andrew Way Leong (Northwestern University), posted in two parts.
Click here to read part 1, then link to part 2 from there (or simply click here).
Dr. Sueyoshi will also give a talk at the San Francisco Public Library on Tuesday, February 26. For more details, see the SFPL calendar.
A review of Queer Compulsions published in this month’s The Gay & Lesbian Review, which calls the book “…an important study. It is also worthwhile as a fascinating portrait of biracial and same-sex relationships at a pivotal time in American history.” An equally positive review appeared earlier in Nichi Bei Weekly.
In her innovative new book, Fertile Disorder: Spirit Possession and Its Provocation of the Modern, Kalpana Ram reflects on the way spirit possession unsettles some of the foundational assumptions of modernity. What is a human subject under the varied conditions commonly associated with possession? What kind of subjectivity must already be in place to allow such a transformation to occur? How does it alter our understanding of memory and emotion if these assail us in the form of ghosts rather than as attributes of subjective experience? What does it mean to worship deities who are afflictive and capricious, yet bear an intimate relationship to justice? What is a “human” body if it can be taken over by a whole array of entities? What is agency if people can be “claimed” in this manner? What is gender if, while possessed, a woman is a woman no longer?
Drawing on spirit possession among women and the rich traditions of subaltern religion in Tamil Nadu, South India, Ram concludes that the basis for constructing an alternative understanding of human agency need not rest on the usual requirements of a fully present consciousness or on the exercise of choice and planning. Instead of relegating possession, ghosts, and demons to the domain of the exotic, Ram uses spirit possession to illuminate ordinary experiences and relationships.
“Ram’s extraordinary capacity to combine meticulous ethnography of spirit possession and other expressions of ‘female disorder’ in Tamil Nadu with deep and provocative reflections on the history of modernity in the subcontinent is what gives this book its freshness and originality. Scholars in diverse fields, from South Asian feminist and subaltern studies to those constituted by anthropological and postcolonial critiques of contemporary forms of modernization, should find this book to be of absorbing interest.” —Dipesh Chakrabarty, University of Chicago
January 2013 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3630-6 / $57.00 (CLOTH)
For those at the high end of the trafficking chain, the sex trade is an alluring and lucrative business: the supply of girls is constant, the costs of operations are low, and interference from law enforcement is weak to non-existent. Anti-trafficking organizations and governments commonly appropriate such market metaphors of supply and demand as they struggle with the moral-political dimensions of a business involving trade, labor, prostitution, migration, and national borders. But how apt are they? Is the sex trade really the perfect business? The Perfect Business? Anti-Trafficking and the Sex Trade along the Mekong, by Sverre Molland, is a provocative new book that examines the social worlds and interrelationships of traffickers, victims, and trafficking activists along the Thai-Lao border. It explores local efforts to reconcile international legal concepts, the bureaucratic prescriptions of aid organizations, and global development ideologies with on-the-ground realities of sexual commerce.
Southeast Asia: Politics, Meaning, and Memory
September 2012 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3653-5 / $26.00 (PAPER)
Refiguring Women, Colonialism, and Modernity in Burma, by Chie Ikeya, presents the first study of one of the most prevalent and critical topics of public discourse in colonial Burma: the woman of the khit kala—“the woman of the times”—who burst onto the covers and pages of novels, newspapers, and advertisements in the 1920s. Educated and politicized, earner and consumer, “Burmese” and “Westernized,” she embodied the possibilities and challenges of the modern era, as well as the hopes and fears it evoked. In Refiguring Women, Ikeya interrogates what these shifting and competing images of the feminine reveal about the experience of modernity in colonial Burma. She marshals a wide range of hitherto unexamined Burmese language sources to analyze both the discursive figurations of the woman of the khit kala and the choices and actions of actual women who—whether pursuing higher education, becoming political, or adopting new clothes and hairstyles—unsettled existing norms and contributed to making the woman of the khit kala the privileged idiom for debating colonialism, modernization, and nationalism.
“Refiguring Women not only marks a milestone in Burmese historiography but makes a significant contribution to our appreciation of how ‘being modern‘ was understood in colonized societies. Deftly integrating visual and literary representations of Burmese women with the experiences of a people living under colonial control, this pioneering study explores previously untapped sources to provide new insights on the entangled relations between gender, colonialism, and modernity.” —Barbara Andaya, University of Hawai‘i, Manoa
Southeast Asia: Politics, Meaning, and Memory
January 2011 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3461-6 / $45.00 (CLOTH)
What does it mean when a city of 180,000 people has more than 5,000 women working as prostitutes? This question frames Vu Trong Phung’s 1937 classic reportage Luc Xi. In the late 1930s, Hanoi had a burgeoning commercial sex industry that involved thousands of people and hundreds of businesses. It was the center of the city’s nightlife and the source of suffering, violence, exploitation, and a venereal disease epidemic. For Phung, a popular writer and intellectual, it also raised disturbing questions about the state of Vietnamese society and culture and whether his country really was “progressing” under French colonial rule. Translator Shaun Kingsley Malarney’s thoughtful and multifaceted introduction provides historical background on colonialism, prostitution, and venereal disease in Vietnam and discusses reportage as a literary genre, political tool, and historical source. A fully annotated translation of Luc Xi follows, in which Phung takes readers into the heart of colonial Hanoi’s sex industry, portraying its female workers, the officials who attempted to regulate it, the doctors who treated its victims, and the secretive medical facility known as the Nha Luc Xi (“The Dispensary”), which examined prostitutes for venereal diseases and held them for treatment.
“Among the most celebrated works of Vietnamese non-fiction reportage, Vu Trọng Phụng’s Luc Xi illuminates the culture of prostitution and the politics of venereal disease prevention in colonial Hanoi. Shaun Malarney’s translation of the text is both elegant and accurate and his detailed introduction provides useful historical context while advancing an important argument about social imbalances embedded within the institutions of colonial medicine. This is an exceptional work of historical scholarship.” —Peter Zinoman, University of California, Berkeley
Southeast Asia: Politics Meaning and Memory
November 2010 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3467-8 / $45.00 (CLOTH)
Manga is the backbone of Japanese popular culture, influencing everything from television, movies, and video games to novels, art, and theater. Shojo manga (girls’ comics) has been seminal to the genre as a whole and especially formative for Japanese girls’ culture throughout the postwar era. In Straight from the Heart: Gender, Intimacy, and the Cultural Production of Shojo Manga, Jennifer S. Prough examines the shojo manga industry as a site of cultural storytelling, illuminating the ways that issues of mass media, gender, production, and consumption are involved in the process of creating shojo manga.
“Straight from the Heart is a wonderful book, one that is timely and important in terms of academic interest in the anthropology of popular culture. Its originality lies in the author’s solid ethnographic approach to the topic and in her detailed description of the interactions between editors, artists, and consumers. Certainly it is time for such an in-depth English-language study of shojo manga. Prough’s work makes an important contribution to a number of fields—anthropology, Japan studies, gender/women’s studies, and cultural studies—and the writing style, organization, and length all make it an extremely attractive book for undergraduate course adoption.” —Laura Miller, Eiichi Shibusawa-Seigo Arai Professor of Japanese Studies, University of Missouri-St. Louis
November 2010 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3528-6 / $24.00 (PAPER)