Sounding Out Heritage: Cultural Politics and the Social Practice of Quan Họ Folk Song in Northern Vietnam

Tang China in Multi-Polar Asia

Sounding Out Heritage explores the cultural politics that have shaped the recent history and practice of a unique style of folk song that originated in Bắc Ninh province, northern Vietnam. The book delves into the rich and complicated history of quan họ, showing the changes it has undergone over the last sixty years as it moved from village practice onto the professional stage. Interweaving an examination of folk music, cultural nationalism, and cultural heritage with an in-depth ethnographic account of the changing social practice of quan họ folk song, author Lauren Meeker presents a vivid and historically contextualized picture of the quan họ “soundscape.”

Village practitioners, ordinary people who love to sing quan họ, must now negotiate increased attention from those outside the village and their own designation as “living treasures.” Professional singers, with their different performance styles and representational practices, have been incorporated into the quan họ soundscape in an effort to highlight and popularize the culture of Bắc Ninh province in the national context. Sounding Out Heritage offers an in-depth account of the impact of cultural politics on the lives and practices of quan họ folk singers in Vietnam and shows compellingly how a tradition can mean many things to many people.

2013, 200 pages, 18 illustrations
$45.00 ISBN: 978-0-8248-3568-2, Cloth
Southeast Asia: Politics, Meaning, and Memory

Damien by Aldyth Morris Revisited

Saint DamienThis weekend, July 28 and 29, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Outreach College presents two performances of DAMIEN, the award-winning one-man play by Aldyth Morris. The riveting drama of Saint Damien’s life in Hawai‘i will be performed by actor Dann Seki and directed by Tim Slaughter. The entire playscript is included in Almost Heaven: On the Human and Divine (Mānoa 23:2), which will be available for sale at the performances. The 1980 edition of the play is still available by order from UH Press.

Act One opens with a chant, written originally in Hawaiian by a composer and hula master who contracted leprosy and died at the Kalaupapa settlement on Moloka‘i. “Song of the Chanter Ka-‘ehu” begins:

What will become of Hawai‘i?
What will leprosy do to our land—
disease of the despised, dreaded alike
by white or brown or darker-skinned?

Strange when a man’s neighors
become less than acquaintances.
Seeing me they drew away.
They moved to sit elsewhere, whispering,
and a friend pointed a finger:
“He is a leper.”

Contemporary Southeast Asian Theatres

Communities of ImaginationAsian theatre is usually studied from the perspective of the major traditions of China, Japan, India, and Indonesia. Now, in Communities of Imagination: Contemporary Southeast Asian Theatres, a wide-ranging look at the contemporary theatre scene in Southeast Asia, Catherine Diamond shows that performance in some of the lesser known theatre traditions offers a vivid and fascinating picture of the rapidly changing societies in the region. Diamond examines how traditional, modern, and contemporary dramatic works, with their interconnected styles, stories, and ideas, are being presented for local audiences. She not only places performances in their historical and cultural contexts but also connects them to the social, political, linguistic, and religious movements of the last two decades.

“Covering the multifaceted, multicultural, multination swathe of Southeast Asia, Communities of Imagination brings to light changes and theatre innovations over the last twenty-five years by focusing on issues of gender, censorship, and national identity. The book gains its strength by diving into actual productions the author has seen in major urban hubs. Diamond places the work in an informed frame, interviewing major theatre makers. Those interested in Southeast Asia will encounter the themes, innovations, and heated debates that theatre is uniquely suited to amplify, making this book an important contribution.” —Kathy Foley, editor, Asian Theatre Journal

June 2012 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3584-2 / $56.00 (CLOTH)

Discourses of Ch’angguk

In Search of Traditional Korean OperaIn Search of Korean Traditional Opera: Discourses of Ch’angguk, by Andrew Killick, is the first book on Korean opera in a language other than Korean. Ch’angguk is a form of musical theater that has developed over the last hundred years from the older narrative singing tradition of p’ansori. Killick examines the history and current practice of ch’angguk as an ongoing attempt to invent a traditional Korean opera form to compare with those of neighboring China and Japan. In this, the work addresses a growing interest within the fields of ethnomusicology and Asian studies in the adaptation of traditional arts to conditions in the modern world.

August 2010 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3290-2 / $48.00 (CLOTH)
A Study of the International Center for Korean Studies, Research Institute of Korean Studies, Korea University

Victoria Kneubuhl Thinking Out Loud

Victoria KneubuhlVictoria Kneubuhl, author of Murder Casts a Shadow and Hawai‘i Nei: Island Plays, will be a guest on the Japanese Cultural Center’s Thinking Out Loud: Talking Issues, Taking Action (KZOO-AM 1210), Monday, July 26, 6:30-7:30 pm.

Kneubuhl is a winner of the Hawai‘i Literary Arts Council’s Award for Literature. Her plays have been performed in Hawai‘i and elsewhere in the Pacific, the continental U.S., Britain, and Asia. She is currently the writer and co-producer for the television series Biography Hawaii.

Readings from Andha Yug

Andha YugA readers theatre production of excerpts from Andha Yug, Dharamvir Bharati’s critically acclaimed play taken from the Indian epic Mahabharata, will be held on Saturday, June 26, at 7:30pm at Orvis Auditorium. For more information on this free event call 808-956-8246 or click here.

The reading will be accompanied by visual images from the Mahabharata and Gamelan music. Translator Alok Bhalla will introduce the performance and play a role as well. A question and answer session will follow the performance.

Scripting Modernity in Japanese Drama

A Beggar’s Art
In the opening decades of the twentieth century in Japan, practically every major author wrote plays that were published and performed. The plays were seen not simply as the emergence of a new literary form but as a manifestation of modernity itself, transforming the stage into a site for the exploration of new ideas and ways of being. A Beggar’s Art: Scripting Modernity in Japanese Drama, 1900-1930, is the first book in English to examine the full range of early twentieth-century Japanese drama. Accompanying his study, M. Cody Poulton provides his translations of representative one-act plays. Poulton looks at the emergence of drama as a modern literary and artistic form and chronicles the creation of modern Japanese drama as a reaction to both traditional (particularly kabuki) dramaturgy and European drama. Translations and productions of the latter became the model for the so-called New Theater (shingeki), where the question of how to be both modern and Japanese at the same time was hotly contested.

June 2010 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3452-4 / $29.00 (PAPER)

Choice Magazine’s Outstanding Academic Titles for 2009 Announced

Each year Choice Magazine, the official publication of the Association of College and Research Libraries, compiles a distinguished list of Outstanding Academic Titles. The following two UH Press books were recognized for 2009. A complete list of titles will be available in Choice’s January 2010 issue.

Tour of Duty: Samurai, Military Service in Edo, and the Culture of Early Modern Japan
by Constantine Nomikos Vaporis

“Vaporis has written a magnificent book on the sankin kotai, or alternate attendance system. . . . Long considered the central political control mechanism of the Tokugawa period, the system has received surprisingly little scholarly attention until now. Filling a major gap in the understanding of Japanese history, the author provides a detailed account of the mechanics of the system and demands placed on daimyo and retainers on tours of duty in Edo. Exploiting the latest archaeological and archival sources, Vaporis makes clear the economic burden of the system on the daimyo, as well as its role as an engine of cultural, intellectual, and material exchange, from the center in Edo and between regions. The author also provides intimate details of the lives of samurai, both on the road to and from Edo and while serving their time in Edo. For all interested in early modern history. . . . Highly recommended.” —Choice (July 2009)

Kabuki’s Forgotten War: 1931-1945 by James R. Brandon

“Brandon offers new and intriguing research on the development of Kabuki through the turbulent 1930s and into the 1940s. . . . A vital addition to existing literature on what one thinks of as ‘traditional’ Kabuki, this book will be fascinating reading for those interested in Japanese theater, history, or politics. . . . Essential.” —Choice (April 2009)

Beijing Opera Costumes Short-listed for Costume Society of America Award

Beijing Opera Costumes: The Visual Communication of Character and Culture,
by Alexandra B. Bonds, was short-listed for this year’s Milla Davenport Publication Award from the
Costume Society of America. The award is given “to a published book or exhibition catalog that makes a significant contribution to the study of costume, reflects original thought and exceptional creativity, and draws on appropriate research methods and techniques.”

The journal Theatre Design & Technology called Beijing Opera Costumes “one of the most useful costume books on Beijing (Jingju) opera in the English language. . . . Alexandra Bonds has done a huge service to those who strive to learn more about twentieth- and twenty-first-century Jingju style and how it came to be. It is a beautifully detailed book that historians and novices alike will find invaluable.”

Victoria Kneubuhl at the National Museum of the American Indian

As part of the Vine Deloria, Jr., Native Writers Series, Victoria Kneubuhl will be lecturing at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, May 13, 2009, 6:30 p.m.

Kneubuhl’s play The Conversion of Ka‘ahumanu (featured in Hawai‘i Nei: Island Plays) will be performed at the Museum’s Rasmuson Theater on Friday, May 15, 7:30 p.m., and on Saturday, May 16, 2009, 2:00 p.m. Follow the production of the play at

Kabuki’s Forgotten War

According to a myth constructed after Japan’s surrender to the Allied Forces in 1945, kabuki was a pure, classical art form with no real place in modern Japanese society. In Kabuki’s Forgotten War, 1931–1945, senior theater scholar James R. Brandon calls this view into question and makes a compelling case that, up to the very end of the Pacific War, kabuki was a living theater and, as an institution, an active participant in contemporary events, rising and falling in consonance with Japan’s imperial adventures.

October 2008 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3200-1 / $52.00 (CLOTH)