Wednesday, December 13, 2023

New Book Announcement: A LONG time in the making! "Anthropology through the Experience of the Physical Body"

Finally! The new book edited by Kaori Fushiki and Ryoko Sakurada has been published! The origins of this book go back to May, 2014 and the panel "Anthropology through the Experience of the Physical Body" at the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Studies conference in Chiba, Japan. It has been a long and difficult road.

Book description (from This book seeks to break new ground, both empirically and conceptually, in examining changing understandings of the physical human body from a variety of anthropological perspectives. In doing so, it interrogates how the body has been and continues to be conceptualised, experienced and interacted with. After an introductory appraisal of recent approaches to understanding the body, the book provides empirically rich accounts from East and Southeast Asia of how cultural, environmental and social norms shape human physicality. The contributions are organised in four broad themes. Part I, ‘Body and Space’, offers two contrasting case studies from Malaysia, both of which examine gender norms associated with marriage and pregnancy, including the taboos associated with these rites of passage. Part II, ‘Imperfect Bodies: Communication and the Body as Media’, analyses two case studies―Deaf people in Japan and masked theatre performance in Bali, Indonesia, to reflect on changing attitudes towards disability, which reflect broader social norms and cultural beliefs about the nature of disability and its place in society. Part III, ‘The Body and Image’, provides a pair of case studies from Singapore, on male fans of the popular manga boys’ love genre and on ways that the Chinese zodiac system is determined from birth and continues to be spiritually embedded in the body of a Chinese individual through ritual practices. Part IV, ‘The Body as Container: Taming the Bodies?’, presents a single case study from Thailand of spirit possession among schoolchildren. Though wide-ranging, all the case studies posit that the body is a site of constant negotiation. The way the body is presented and the way it is seen are shaped by a complex array of social, cultural, political and ideational factors. Anthropology through the Experience of the Physical Body is a valuable interdisciplinary work for advanced students and researchers interested in representations of the body in East and Southeast Asia and for those with wider interests in the field of critical anthropology.

Of interest to VAoJ readers might be chapter 4, The Embodiment of the Deaf in Japan: A Set of Heuristic Models for Identity, Belonging and Sign Language Use. I will post more specifics when I actually receive my own print copy, hopefully soon. It is currently available on Amazon in Kindle format; the print format will be available is March, 2024.

Many thanks to the editors, contributors and production staff.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

"Character for tax (税) picked as kanji of 2023" - and I my salary is less than it was two years ago...

Photo and story from Japan Today, 12/12/23.

I would have actually voted for "(Hanshin) Tigers" as the kanji of the years. But...

The money that I now actually make has decreased in the last two years. My winter bonus this year is more than $100 less than it was two years ago. Why? My university tells me that since my salary increases (by a very small amount) every year, I am now in a higer tax bracket, thus the government takes more money from my paycheck. At the same time, the cost of everything (groceries, etc.) has increased. Is this fair? I think not. The government certainly needs to reduce taxes and work to decrease the price of necessities for its residents. But at the same time, it seems that employers need to better support their employees (or has the idea of managers/employers as onjin「恩人」become obsolete?). At the same time, I might add, my university has not increased research funds for its faculty for well over 20 years, and no longer furnishes computers, printers, etc. to professors (instead we are supposed to use our own research funds which are supposed to be used for actual reseach activities) for these vital tools we need to do our very job, i.e. teaching). And, again, at the same time, teachers need to pay for more online services and software to do our job. Recently, my university has announced that since "COVID-19 is under control," they will be canceling the Zoom accounts of faculty and staff. WTF?

Let's hope for a Happy New Year on may levels...