William E. Naff, the distinguished scholar of Japanese literature widely known and highly regarded for his eloquent translations of the writings of Shimazaki Toson (1872–1943), spent the last years of his life writing a full-length biography of Toson. Virtually completed at the time of his death, The Kiso Road: The Life and Times of Shimazaki Toson provides a rich and colorful account of this canonic novelist who, along with Natsume Soseki and Mori Ogai, formed the triumvirate of writers regarded as giants in Meiji Japan, all three of whom helped establish the parameters of modern Japanese literature. Professor Naff’s biography skillfully places Toson in the context of his times and discusses every aspect of his career and personal life, as well as introducing in detail a number of his important but as yet untranslated works.
“The Kiso Road sets Toson’s long and eventful life in the context of its historical and cultural moment, providing a depth of coverage that cannot be matched by any of the existing English-language books on Toson. As Naff argues, Toson is simultaneously an extraordinary and an ordinary figure, and tracing through his career provides a useful window onto an entire era of Japanese history. This is an important and authoritative book, an original contribution, and the culmination of a life’s work.” —Michael Bourdaghs, University of Chicago
November 2010 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3218-6 / $49.00 (CLOTH)
Also available: William Naff’s award-winning translation of Toson’s classic novel of Meiji Japan, Before the Dawn
Relative Histories: Mediating History in Asian American Family Memoirs, by Rocio G. Davis, focuses on the Asian American memoir that specifically recounts the story of at least three generations of the same family. This form of auto/biography concentrates as much on other members of one’s family as on oneself, generally collapses the boundaries conventionally established between biography and autobiography, and in many cases—as Davis proposes for the auto/biographies of ethnic writers—crosses the frontier into history, promoting collective memory. Davis centers on how Asian American family memoirs expand the limits and function of life writing by reclaiming history and promoting community cohesion. She argues that identity is shaped by not only the stories we have been told, but also the stories we tell, making these narratives important examples of the ways we remember our family’s past and tell our community’s story.
“Relative Histories is original in several key ways: the emphasis upon very contemporary, under-explored narratives; the use of a wide range of critical approaches to the study of life writing; the blending of film and literature and the discussion of the use of photography. The study thus would not only make a new contribution to Asian American studies but would intervene in debates on life writing, film, literature, and photography in a more general manner.” —Helena Grice, Aberystwyth University
November 2010 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3458-6 / $39.00 (CLOTH)
Shamans, Nostalgias, and the IMF: South Korean Popular Religion in Motion, by Laurel Kendall, has been awarded the Yim Suk Jay Prize.
The prize is awarded by the Korean Society for Cultural Anthropology to a Korean or foreign scholar who has contributed to the development of Korean cultural anthropology by authoring a book-length scholarly work of high quality and originality.
Last month Robert Pringle, author of Understanding Islam in Indonesia: Politics and Diversity, spoke about his book at an East-West Center event in Washington, D.C. Understanding Islam seeks to clearly outline the role of Islam in Indonesia, covering the history of Islam’s arrival, its development over time, as well as the role it plays in the politics of the growing democracy. Dr. Pringle was joined by Michael H. Anderson (shown on the right in the photo), a recently retired senior foreign service officer and an Asia public diplomacy specialist.
What does “environment” really mean in the complex, non-Western milieu of present-day Tokyo? How can anthropology contribute to the technical discussions and quantitative measures typically found in environmental studies? Author Peter Wynn Kirby explores these questions through a deep cultural analysis of waste in contemporary Japan. His parameters are intentionally broad—encompassing ideas of “nature,” attitudes toward hygiene, notions of health and illness, problems with vermin and toxic waste, processes of social exclusion, and reproductive threats. Troubled Natures: Waste, Environment, Japan concludes that how surroundings are conceived, invoked, and enacted is subjective, highly contextual, and under continual negotiation—with suggestive implications for anthropology, social science, and environmental studies generally.
“Kirby’s long-term ethnographic study takes the unlikely-sounding subject of waste (in all its forms) to a fascinating depth, demonstrating the sociocultural complexity of environmental issues, and the crucial contribution that an anthropological study such as this can make to the broader field. Here is a novel way to understand the changing nature of contemporary Japan, through insights into the lives of residents of its enormous capital city and their struggle to eliminate environmental pollution and maintain the purity on which Japan has long prided itself.” —Joy Hendry, Oxford Brookes University
November 2010 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3428-9 / $49.00 (CLOTH)