Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"Yami no Kodomotachi" Pulled from Thai Film Festival

A controversial Japanese film on child prostitution and human trafficking in Thailand has been pulled from the Bangkok International Film Festival in the face of opposition from festival organizers, film production sources confirmed Monday. While drawing increasing interest in Japan, the film, titled "Children of the Dark" in English, "handles too touchy issues and cannot be screened in view of the country’s public sentiment," the sources quoted the organizers as saying in mid-September.

Read the whole story at Japan Today:

Read more about the film at Japan Times (It's more than 'Lolita' and too hot to handle):

Film Web page (in Japanese)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fall 2008: A New Semester, New Student Blogs...

Fall semester is already in its third week and that can only mean one thing: new students and new visual anthropology photo-journal blogs. Please scroll down to the "Fall 2008 Student Photo-Journal Blogs" menu and see what the new students are saying.

Their first post assignment is on their early impressions of Japan. (Native anthropologists blog about what they feel newcomers to Japan should know about their culture.) It is always interesting to see what new students are seeing and feeling about their new surroundings. The students this semester come from a variety of countries and perspectives but all seem enthusiastic.

It is also interesting to see how students' perceptions and ideas change throughout the course of the semester. It seems that every year students know more and more about Japan. But do their preconceptions match with their new reality? And how can they combine images with text to describe their new cultural setting?

Traditional culture, pop culture, sports, gender, religion, globalization, art and politics are only a few of the themes to be tackled in the next few months along with the anthropological method and issues of visual representation. Please visit the students' blogs often and leave comments. This blogging exercise is an attempt at collaboration in the discovery and presentation of Japanese culture, the good, bad, beautiful, ugly, extraordinary and mundane. "Making the strange seem familiar and making the familiar seem strange..."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

HIV/AIDS, Deafness and Disabilities Blog

I have posted information about the relationship between Deaf people and HIV/AIDS in the past. Recently Leila Monaghan has posted photos and text from the AIDS 2008 Conference in Mexico City in August on her blog. Earlier entries have interesting and important information as well.

Link to HIV/AIDS, Deafness and Disabilities Blog:

She has also set up a chat board to ask questions and share information.

Link to HIV/AIDS, Deafness and Disabilities Chat Board:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Southeast Asia Visions Collection

(Image borrowed from Southeast Asia Visions Collection)

Another resource announcement from H-ASIA:


(Description from its web site:) ...a collection of European travel accounts of pre-modern Southeast Asia from Cornell University Library’s John M. Echols Collection. The site provides online access to more than 350 books and journal articles written in English and French. The works in the collection were selected for the quality of their first-hand observations and, together, provide a comprehensive representation of Southeast Asia. Along with their narratives, these accounts include some 10,000 images, drawings, photographs, prints and maps, many of them in color. The objectives of this project are both to meet the curricular needs of courses taught at Cornell University and to make these texts and images accessible via the Internet to students and scholars worldwide. It presents scholars an excellent opportunity to look anew at pre-modern Southeast Asia.

While the focus is on Southeast Asia, there are some Japan related materials available in this collection. This collection seems to be another valuable on-line resource which might be of interest to visual anthropologists.

I found the above photo in the "BROWSE BY IMAGE GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION" section under Japan; the following information came up, which was hot-linked to the image:

Image geographic Information: Japan

An army officer on leave in Japan : including a sketch of Manila and environment, Philippine insurrection of 1896-7, Dewey's battle of Manila Bay and description of Formosa by Maus, Louis Mervin (1911), p.160B (Japanese Maid Preparing Dinner)

Link to Southeast Asia Visions:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Japanese Male Life Cycle - in 30 seconds!

A colleague (thanks P.S.) brought this short animation to my attention. It is a nice illustration of the stereotype of the Japanese male life cycle.


It was done and posted on YouTube by Aokijun.net.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Stop! AIDS

I have written much about the HIV/AIDS situation here in Japan for deaf and hearing people. The other night I found myself walking through Ame-mura ("American Village") in Shinsaibashi, Osaka and was surprised to see a flashing neon sign with condoms and the message Stop! AIDS. One major problem in Japan is the lack of communication and information about HIV/AIDS. The sign seems to combat this problem. I immediately photographed and videotaped the sign. I have yet to learn who put it there. I was informed by a colleague that there used to be a health clinic in the area that did HIV tests (the clinic has since moved to Namba). Anyway, as I watched the flashing condoms, the condom ringtone song (part of the campaign by the BBC World Service Trust to prevent the transmission of AIDS in India) played in my mind. Thus this short video. Comments?

Anthropology News' Photostream

This post comes from an announcement in the September 2008 AAA News. Anthropology News has set up a photostream using Flickr. Right now there are only three sets of photos, but I assume the photostream will grow. Each photo is accompanied by a link to a photo essay comprised of text and pictures. This is a good source to see the work of other visual anthropologists.

Link to Anthropology News' Photostream:

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Conference on Global Film

An announcement from H-Asia... This announcement is not Japan specific, but it does serve to show what kind of topics and themes are being considered within the realm of contemporary visual anthropology.

Conference on Global Film

Location: Alabama, United States
Conference Date: 2009-03-05

The University of North Alabama Conference on Global Film invites proposals on any aspect of world cinema. Proposals should consider some area of the intersection among film, society, and culture, exploring films as social and historical artifacts of the culture and nation from which they arise, as well as the role played by film in constructing, shaping, and re-imagining issues of nationhood, nationality, and transnationalism.

Papers may take a single film focus or make comparative considerations, and can take a theoretical or historical approach. Examples or suggested topics might include papers that examine the following areas in a single film, several films, or national cinemas:

*Genre studies in world cinema (Horror, Comedy, etc.)
*Film movements (New Wave, directors, films)
*Exploring representations of race, ethnicity, and gender in fiction or non-fiction film
*Representations of wars, borders, national characters and ideologies
*Social or political commentary
*National cinemas (Africa, Japan, etc.)
*Technological and economic considerations/developments
*Comparative analyses between world and Hollywood film
*Third World Cinema

These ideas are suggestions only so any topic would be welcomed.

Please send a 250-300 word abstract and brief bio (2-3 sentences, including rank and affiliation and contact information) to: Dr. William Verrone: weverrone@una.edu; Please put "Global Film" in subject line. Deadline for submission is October 1, 2008.

The University of North Alabama Conference on Global Film will be held March 5-8, 2009, in historic Florence, Alabama.

Monday, September 1, 2008

"World Without Sound" - 30th Anniversary of the Osaka Pantomime Group

The Osaka Pantomime Group celebrated its 30th anniversary on Saturday, August 30, 2008 with a performance in Higashi Osaka. The group has had a long and lively history, with both deaf and hearing members. The group has performed throughout Japan and the world. I have blogged in the past about their performance at a deaf school in Cambodia.

The group when originally formed in 1978 was billed as an exclusively deaf group. However many hearing people became interested and joined. Thus the themes of the performances and skits are not necessarily deaf related, they are more universal themes that both deaf and hearing people can understand.

This is not to say that deaf cultural aspects are missing from the group. The majority of the audience was deaf and were vigorously chatting away in JSL before the show and during the break. As for the performance itself, I learned there was a difference between classic pantomime and deaf pantomime. In the former, facial expression is usually absent - body movement is stressed. However with the latter facial expression is key, revealing mood and other subtleties. The excellent body movement of the Osaka Pantomime Group combined with facial expressions made simple themes such as flying kites, playing golf, riding on the train, manners and fashion shows come to life with an absence of props. Perhaps the most popular skits had to do with the interaction between a shower (played by one member) and two women, the first young and beautiful, the second old and not so attractive.

Only three people performed at this anniversary show. However many more people were involved with backstage activities. Here again deaf cultural influences are at work. Electronic devices are used to allow deaf performers and stage hands to cue communicate with each other. Pantomime takes a large time commitment that many people don't seem willing to give anymore. However, after 30 years the the curtain is not falling on the group. They promised to do their best and continue on into the future.

See a related blog about the relationship between sign language and pantomime: