Friday, February 29, 2008

Minority Groups and Indigenous Peoples Website

If visual anthropology is concerned with salvage ethnography, then it must be concerned about minorities and indigenous peoples as well. Minority Rights Group International maintains an important and useful website.

Minority Rights Group International campaigns worldwide with around 130 partners in over 60 countries to ensure that disadvantaged minorities and indigenous peoples, often the poorest of the poor, can make their voices heard. Through training and education, legal cases, publications and the media, we support minority and indigenous people as they strive to maintain their rights to the land they live on, the languages they speak, to equal opportunities in education and employment, and to full participation in public life.

Link to World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples

Summer Program in Chinese Film History and Criticism

This program takes place at the Beijing Film Academy, June 30 - July 27, 2008. For more information, see their website.

Summer Program in Chinese Film History and Criticism

Sunday, February 24, 2008

More Anthro Resources: Blogs and Books

More helpful info from various anthro listservs and blogs...

Check out this anthro blog. While not Japan-specific it does seem to be a great resource for visual studies and anthropology in general.


Students thinking about studying anthropology at university // People who like documentary film, art, cultural events // Anyone curious about anthropology // Everybody interested on other cultures [+ their own], global issues and debates

This blog is run by Lucy as part of the Royal Anthropological Institute's Discover Anthropology Outreach programme.

Link to Anthropologist About Town

New Book on Japanese Fashion

Philomena Keet is a British anthropologist whose PhD is on Tokyo Street fashion. Her new book, with photographer Yuri Manabe, is The Tokyo Look Book: Stylish to Spectacular, Goth to Gyaru, Sidewalk to Catwalk.


Japanese Visual Culture: Explorations in the World of Manga and Anime
Edited by: Mark W. MacWilliams
M.E. Sharpe

We don't take up manga and anime much in Visual Anthro class (but there are at least three other KGU courses devoted to the topic...) or on this blog. But I realize some students have interests in the subject. If so, you might want to check out this new book. List of contents below:

Foreword: Japan's New Visual Culture
Frederik L. Schodt
Mark W. MacWilliams

1. Manga in Japanese History - Kinko Ito
2. Contemporary Anime in Japanese Pop Culture - Gilles Poitras
3. Characters, Themes, and Narrative Patterns in the Manga of Osamu Tezuka - Susanne Phillips
4.From Metropolis to Metoroporisu : The Changing Role of the Robot in Japanese and Western Cinema - Lee Makela
5. Opening the Closed World of Shojo Manga - Mizuki Takahashi
6. Situating the Shojo in Shojo Manga : Teenage Girls, Romance Comics, and Contemporary Japanese Culture - Deborah Shamoon
7. Intellectuals, Cartoons, and Nationalism During the Russo-Japanese War - Yulia Mikhailova
8. Framing Manga: On Narratives of the Second World War in Japanese Manga, 1957-1977 - Eldad Nakar
9. Aum Shinrikyo and a Panic about Manga and Anime - Rich Gardner
10. Medieval Genealogies of Manga Horror - Raj Pandey
11. The Utopian "Power to Live": What the Miyazaki Phenomenon Signifies - Hiroshi Yamanaka
12. Heart of Japaneseness: History and Nostalgia in Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away - Shiro Yoshioka
13. National History as Otaku Fantasy: Satoshi Kon's Millennium Actress - Melek Ortabasi
14. Considering Manga Discourse: Location, Ambiguity, Historicity - Jaqueline Berndt

About the Contributors

Follow-up: Anthropology and War

Here's a link to a good resource that serves as a follow-up to an earlier VAOJ post, "Anthropology and War: Don't Let Them Recruit You!"

The site is called ASA Globalog - A place for anthropologists to engage in discussion.

This blog has been set up by the Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth (more easily known as the ASA) to further discussion on all aspects of anthropology. There will be a guest blogger each month who will post articles to get discussions going.

The current theme of the blog is the role of social scientists in counterinsurgency programs of various governments. Check it out.

Link to ASA Glbalog

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

"The Secret Museum of Mankind"

This post comes from via via - a post of a post of a post... Certainly an exercise in sharing and spreading the knowledge. This is really an interesting and important resource to share and announce, especially at this point in the semester when we take up "what to do with the person" in visual representation.

The caption reads:

Nowadays the domestic life of the Japanese married woman seems happy enough since the position of her sex is one of decreasing inferiority; and although marriage arrangements are still theoretically left to the parents, the young man and girl have a decided say in the matter. Formerly, at the marriage ceremony, which was purely a civil function, the young wife is often beheld by her husband for the first time, and besides bearing the brunt of all the housekeeping in her new home, one of her chief obligations lay in complete submission to her husband's parents

Do Japanese women have it any better in 2008? But I digress....

The above photo and caption come from "The Secret Museum of Mankind," a collection of photographs taken between 1890 and the 1930s.

Published in 1935, the Secret Museum is a mystery book. It has no author or credits, no copyright, no date, no page numbers, no index. Published by "Manhattan House" and sold by "Metro Publications", both of New York, its "Five Volumes in One" was pure hype: it had never been released in any other form.

Presented here is the Secret Museum in its entirety, all 564 pages scanned and transcribed— nothing is omitted or censored. However, I've cleaned up the images somewhat, paginated, added thumbnail galleries, an index, and a copy of a 1942 magazine ad. Treat it as entertainment instead of education (don't take it seriously and don't believe a word it says!), adjust for the blatant racial bias of the time, and enjoy.

The Secret Museum's photos and text are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 license. You may copy, distribute, display, and perform the Secret Museum for non-commercial purposes provided you attribute your work as derived from this source.

Link to The Secret Museum of Mankind

In the section on Asia, there are a few photos of Japan and the Ainu. The Asia section, as well as the other sections, illustrate quite well the early and problematic nature of the displaying and describing of indigenous and/or non-western peoples.

Her disk-sewn neckband and rope of beads are the chief pride of this Ainu maiden whose grotesque tattooed mustache cannot quite destroy her ingenuous youthful charm

This resource is an other excellent example of open access. It is out there on the web for all to view and use academically. Thank you Ian Macky (and everyone involved in spreading the word). You can read some discussion about the content of the "Secret Museum" at boingboing:

Announcement and Discussion at

The representation of the non-western other as illustrated in the "Secret Museum" is one of the issues brought up in the film, Couple in the Cage. Their traveling museum is not so secret, nor are the reactions of those who experience it.

Link to information on the Couple in the Cage from Video Data Bank:$tapedetail?COUPLEINTH

How can these resources assist us in our visual anthropology of Japan and representation of Japanese people and culture? Will anthropologists in 100 years look back at our work with similar discomfort and disdain? Can anthropology escape its colonial past?

Asian Visual Cultures Workshop Call for Papers

Another announcement from H-ASIA... This sounds like a very interesting workshop. The announcement also provides different areas where visual methods are being utilized.

Asian Visual Cultures Workshop
University of California, Irvine
April 13, 2008

Call for Papers:

Graduate students of the departments of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Comparative Literature, and Visual Studies at the University of California, Irvine invite submissions from graduate students, independent scholars, and visual artists/filmmakers for a one-day workshop on Asian Visual Cultures. This workshop aims to create a space for dialogue among those interested in Asia and visual cultures (including but not limited to art, cinema, games, theater, architecture, animation) beyond disciplinary frameworks in order to explore methodologies, theories, and objects of analysis.

We hope that this workshop will become an ongoing forum for sharing ideas, difficulties, and criticism around dialoguing research interests and dissertation projects.

This workshop will be experimental in nature. Instead of a conventional conference format, we imagine spending more time providing feedback to each presenter in a round-table discussion after each paper is presented. Also, presentations need not follow the standard of 'reading' papers. Let's talk about the work in progress, methodological difficulties, and theoretical impasses.

While there is no limitation to possible topics, we would be very interested in the following questions and problematics:

Cinema and Erotics
Affect and spectatorship
Genre Practice and its historicity
Transnational Asian Films: Production and reception
Feminist visual theory and criticism
Film festivals
Memory and history
Familiar/familial space
Queer visual culture
Vernacular modernity and urban space
Medium specificity
Re-imagining field/discipline
Film studies/area studies
Methodology, epistemology, objects of analysis
"Death" of cinema/ "rise" of "digital"

The deadline for submissions is Sunday, March 16, 2008. Please email a brief abstract (200-350) to Yun-Jong Lee:

Please feel free to contact us for more information at: (Yuka Kanno) or (Erin Huang)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

"Splendid Pictures Around The Net"

I found this website while exploring the blogspot net.

Splendid Pictures Around The Net

Its subtitle reads: "A picture is worth a thousand words." That sounds familiar... Anyway, there are some interesting photos to look at (once one navigates away from the many pesky ads), some of which are Japan related. Recent Japan related posts include Star Wars Origami and Japanese Extreme Modified Vans.

Undoubtedly there are many more Japan related photo blogs out there. If you know of any good ones that would be beneficial to visual anthropologists, please share.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Visualizing Terror in Japan -and- A New Semester of Visual Anthro Has Begun!

(Image borrowed from Japan Today, 2/14/08)

Oh you regular readers of VAOJ, I can hear you saying, wow! you sure are posting a lot lately, almost every day! Sugoi deshoo... My response is that a new semester has begun! And my new students seem to have many and varied interests within Visual Anthropology and I am trying to accommodate them... With that in mind, please check out my new students' blogs, located to the left under "Spring 2008 Student Photo-Blogs." I think they are off to a good start. So please read often and leave comments.

You might also notice a few changes in the layout of this blog. Perhaps the most useful change is the addition of labels at the end of each post. These labels allow the reader to access posts of similar content. This is especially useful if one is looking for posts on RESOURCES, METHODS and/or PHOTO ESSAYS. And remember, one can always use the search function at the top of the blog to search for key words and subjects within Visual Anthropology of Japan.

As for the terror...

Japan Today posts a picture everyday with a short caption and invites readers to comment. The above is today's photo, with the caption, "An anti-terror drill is carried out on a bullet train at Tokyo station on Wednesday." My question about this image, does it scare you or make you feel relieved? Does this photo make you have confidence in the Japanese government's response to terrorism?

It is a different kind of image than those they create for the self defense forces (see a previous posting with recruitment videos for the Maritime Self Defense Force by clicking here) - remember seamenship?

Images of the times?

Link to the picture and discussion in Japan Today:

Post Script: More Terror Related News...

We discuss in class about the many security cameras in Britain (an estimated 4.2 million cameras, or one for every 14 people). These cameras are supposedly another response to terrorism, and authorities pointed to the success of security cameras helping in the capturing those responsible for the mass transit bombings in 2005. Other countries and cities have installed their own cameras as a response to terrorism and to deter crime. Now, Okinawa is thinking about doing the same. Who is to be put under surveillance? American soldiers, of course. This is all in response to the recent and supposed rape of a 14 year old Japanese girl by an American soldier stationed in Okinawa.

Read the story in Japan Today:

Is this a good idea? Can you blame Okinawa? Isn't it ironic that the Japanese have an American military presence to protect them from terrorism but at the same time have to take preventative measures to protect themselves from those who are supposed to be protecting them? An anti-terror method to monitor those who are fighting the terrorists?

Aren't things getting a bit out of hand?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Yet Another HIV/AIDS in Japan Update

As predicted, the numbers continue to rise. The number of people in Japan with HIV/AIDS continues to increase. And keep in mind these are government reported statistics, so the actual numbers are most likely quite higher.

Read the story at Japan Today

Read background information posted on this blog

Something to think about on Valentine's Eve... Please be careful out there.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Gofu Talismans

(Image borrowed from The Daily Yomiuri, 2/7/08, p. 3)

A recent article in The Daily Yomiuri discussed the new popularity of gofu talismans. Such talismans are usually purchased at shrines as good luck charms. These days, according to the article, young people are "rediscovering them as works of print art."

Read the story in The Daily Yomiuri On-line

Link to information about "Beauty of Woodblock Prints and Stone Rubbings" exhibition:

Link to Japan Folk-Craft Museum

Monday, February 11, 2008

"Japanese Belly Dance Fusion"

Last year a student in my Body/Comm class did a research project and paper on belly dance in Japan. Belly dance in Japan you ask? How conveniently globalized and visual! As my student found out, there is quite an active and thriving belly dance scene in Japan (come to think of it, I had another international student who was a belly dancer in the same class...). I myself remember a certain snack (drinking establishment) in Osaka where the young Mama-san was a belly dancer; she would perform informally from time to time and also hold special shows that her male customers flocked to see. My student actually participated in workshops and performed while in Japan. She found what she called a fusion between classic belly dance styles and Japanese culture. Since leaving Japan, she has incorporated this fusion into her own performance. So, not unlike the Thai band Neko Jump, Japan is influencing international pop culture once again. See an American woman perform a middle eastern dance style incorporating Japanese cultural elements.

Link to "Japanese Belly Dance Fusion of Scheherazade" on YouTube

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Soliciting information about Neko Jump

A colleague brought this Thai band to my attention. One can certainly see the Japanese influences on Neko Jump.

Does this remind anybody else of Morning Musume or of any of their subgroups?

No, I'm not a fan of Neko Jump (or Morning Musume), but they are certainly a good example go Japanese globalization - in this case Japanese pop culture influencing Thai pop culture. If you have any information about Neko Jump, please share via a comment below.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Can you do visual anthropology with your cell phone?

The simple answer, yes, why not? Use what you have. A cell phone is certainly convenient - when you have it with you (which is always, right?) you have a digital camera and video camera at your disposal. The quality might not be the best, but there are tricks one can learn to be a better photographer with a cell phone.

We can certainly access more and more on our cell phone via the internet. There are special cell phone productions to fit on the small screen. Or perhaps we should say the "smaller screen" to differentiate it from the small screen (television) and the big screen (movies). Anyway, there are people making films and videos with cell phones. For example, there is a class at Boston University that teaches cell phone techniques. Read the story by clicking below:

Students Produce Movies With Cell Phones

There is even an international film festival for cell phones (and other smaller screen technologies).



The 4th edition of the Pocket Films Festival will take place at the Pompidou Center, Paris, on June, 13-14-15th 2008.

The 2008 registration forms for the Pocket Films Festival are online.

Pocket Films initiates this year a new section, open to every moving images developed for « Mobile Screen », such as mobile phones, I-Pod, portable screens... Pocket Films also sends an international call for audiovisual projects using mobile technologies.

More information can be found at their web site below:
International Festival of films made with Mobile Phone

The Third Annual Pocket Film festival was in Japan last year. A nice summary of the aims, scope and possibilities of cell phone films was included in the Introduction to their web site:

The Pocket Films Festival explores the potential for audio-visual expression that lies hidden in a “practical high-tech toy,” and through various media, aims to construct an ideal method of communication that excites our sensibilities – something not yet obvious even to artists.

The young French filmmaker Jean-Charles Fitoussi in a lecture last year at the Graduate School of Film and New Media of the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music explained how he has embraced mobile films from his background of traditional filmmaking and his motive for shooting a mobile film of more than one hour long.

“One day I was out driving and I noticed the shadow cast by a group of clouds which were passing across a field, and I thought to myself I just have to film that, but unfortunately I didn’t have a camera with me. Even if I’d rushed off to get hold of a camera, that particular scene would no longer exist. Because you’ve always got a mobile telephone on you, you never need to miss that perfect shot.” How can we even more effectively use the infinite freedom and creative potential of a camera that we have with us all the time? This film festival is the forum for asking that question.

Japan's first attempt at the Pocket Films Festival is based on a partnership between the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music and the Forum des images of Paris which has staged numerous audio-visual events including special feature screenings of as many as 1,000 films a year, in addition to organizing the Pocket Films Festival since 2005. Although we are inheriting from them the “esprit” of Paris, the center of the film world, and the format of a film festival where films shot with a mobile phone are screened as works of art, we are also keen to develop a set of plans for our festival that are unique to Japan.

For more information on the Japanese festival, click below:
Pocket Films festival in Japan

Margaret Mead, in her "Visual Anthropology in a Discipline of Words" (1975, reproduced in Principles of Visual Anthropology edited by Paul Hockings, 1995) contends that their are better ways than words to record culture. In her time, cameras were bulky and expensive.

It is claimed that the cost of film equipment, processing, and analysis, in both time and money, are prohibitive. But as every science has developed instrumentation, it has required more expensive equipment. Astronomers did not give up astronomy because better telescopes were developed... (p.6).

We don't have to worry about such cost issues with cell phones. And the quality of cell phone cameras continues to improve. Of course in the ideal world we all have the best and most expensive equipment at our disposal. But we should not let not having access to such technology prohibit us from doing visual anthropology (or taking the Visual Anthropology of Japan class). Sometimes a large, high-quality camera could be prohibitive during fieldwork. A cell phone and basic editing equipment can record and produce a satisfactory film. So go for it! And if you are really good, enter the film festival.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Globalization Visual Anthropology Photo Essay: Japan in Hawaii

I was fortunate enough to spend some time in Hawaii in Janaury. Hawaii is a part of the United States of America, right? America's tropical paradise... Here are some stereotypical photos of Hawaii. These are images that one associates with Hawaii, right?
Coconut trees on the beach, against a beautiful blue sky and white fluffy clouds just before sunset... Ahhh paradise!

Waikiki Beach, on the patio of Duke's Bar. The famous Diamondhead is in the background. We also see surfboards and people partying on the beach.

Beautiful beach in Maui. The winds were strong that day and many surfers were enjoying the waves.

Sunset in western Maui; photo taken from the tourist-trap city of Lahaina.

Most of my time I spent in Honolulu. Honolulu is a classic example of Japanese globalization a la human dispersal. Many nikkeijin live in Honolulu and even more Japanese tourists visit. I think I heard more Japanese than English during my stay. Here are some shots of Japan in Hawaii:

Waikiki is filled with designer brand name shops, and thus Japanese tourists flock to these places.

International market. This is the place to go to buy typical tourist junk/trinkets/souvenirs/おみやげ.

Kitty-chan has become glocalized in Honolulu and made friends with Snoopy.

Japanese tourists are brought from place to place, hotel to shopping center, restaurant to tourist attraction, on these trolleys.

All of the shopping and other tourist activities are exhausting. Luckily coconut trees are available for relaxation.

Honolulu is also full of Japanese religion. There is a stretch of road on Pali Highway that has numerous and various Japanese temples, shrines, and churches. One example of a Japanese so-called "new religion" that has reached Japan is Tenrikyo. I stayed at a Tenrikyo church in the McCully area and was present for their January monthly service. Tenrikyo is a healing religion that encourages people to live the "Joyous Life." For more information on Tenrikyo, click here.

Tenrikyo Taiheiyo Church.

Dancing at the monthly service. Tenrikyo rituals are complicated and interesting, composed of hand gestures, dance and various instruments.

Tradtional dress vs. modern dress. Tenrikyo is very Japanese and has a strict vertical social structure. Major decisions for the Hawaiian churches are made in Japan. Nikkeijin, as Japanese-Americans (stress on the American) often have difficulties with strict Japanese traditions. One small change made in Hawaii is the attire for the service. Many people still wear the traditional kimono, but now one is able to wear black pants and the Tenrikyo happi coat instead.

The performance instruments are gendered in Tenrikyo. Males play the taiko drum, wooden clappers, small hand cymbals, small hand-held drum, small gong and flute. Females play the shamisen, koto and kokyu.

After the service is performed, the Church Head Minister gives a sermon. The theme for the January service was "positive change for the new year." The Head Minister explained experience that he and members of the congregation had as messages from God and interpreted their meanings in his lecture.

The same day as the Taiheiyo Tenrikyo Church Monthly Service there was a Hawaiian-Japanese festival.

New Year's Ohana Festival in Honolulu, near the Japanese Cultural Center. "Ohana" in Hawaiian means "family."

Rides, games, activities and food for the keiki. "Keiki" in Hawaiian means "children."

Osaka tako balls (たこやき) along with Hawaiian roasted corn.

One of the highlights of the festival was the mochi (rice cake) pounding demonstration. Who was recruited to do the demonstration?

Our good friends from the Hawaii Tenrikyo Missionary Headquarters, of course!

Here is a short video of the mochi pounding:

Hawaii is a great example of Japanese globalization. "Japan" is a part of the multicultural Hawaii that seems to live in harmony with many other peoples. Perhaps this multicultural harmony can be brought (re-territorialized) to Japan. Many feel that Japan's declining birthrate will require immigration of foreigners to work and support the aging population. Japan's tolerance of foreigners is problematic to say the least. A lesson from Hawaii along with a little aloha might be what Japan needs.

Click here to see more Hawaii photos.