Yoga, the Western Painting of Japan, 1912-1955

Maximum EmbodimentMaximum Embodiment: Yoga, the Western Painting of Japan, 1912–1955, by Bert Winther-Tamaki, presents a compelling thesis articulating the historical character of Yoga, literally the “Western painting” of Japan. The term designates what was arguably the most important movement in modern Japanese art from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. Perhaps the most critical marker of Yoga was its association with the medium of oil-on-canvas, which differed greatly from the water-based pigments and inks of earlier Japanese painting. Yoga encompassed both establishment fine art and avant-gardist insurgencies, but in both cases, as the term suggests, it was typically focused on techniques, motifs, canons, or iconographies that were obtained in Europe and deployed by Japanese artists.

Balancing critique and sympathy for the twelve Yoga painters who are its principal protagonists, Maximum Embodiment investigates the quest for embodiment in some of the most compelling images of modern Japanese art.

January 2012 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3537-8 / $32.00 (CLOTH)

Forests and State Authority in Contemporary Laos

Natural PotencyForests, as physical entities, have received considerable scholarly attention in political studies of Asia and beyond. Much less notice has been paid to the significance of forests as symbols that enable commentary on identity, aspirations, and authority. Natural Potency and Political Power: Forests and State Authority in Contemporary Laos, by Sarinda Singh, is an innovative exploration of the social and political importance of forests in contemporary Laos. It challenges common views of the rural countryside as isolated and disconnected from national social debates and politics under an authoritarian regime. The work offers instead a novel understanding of local perspectives under authoritarianism, demonstrating that Lao people make implicit political statements in their commentary on forests and wildlife; and showing that, in addition to being vital material resources, forests (and their natural potency) are linked in the minds of many Lao to the social and political power of the state.

Southeast Asia: Politics, Meaning, & Memory
January 2012 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3571-2 / $45.00 (CLOTH)

Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory around the Web

Hawaii's Mauna Loa ObservatoryWhile researching his latest book, Hawai‘i’s Mauna Loa Observatory: Fifty Years of Monitoring the Atmosphere, Forrest Mims spent hours searching for a small, unmarked beach near Hilo Bay. It was here in December 1840 that the U.S. Exploring Expedition began its long and difficult journey to the summit of Mauna Loa to make the first scientific measurements from atop the volcano. Read about the expedition in Mims’ weekly science column in the San Antonio Express-News:

For other interesting history tidbits from Mims’ book, check out this post from Raising Islands, written by veteran Hawai‘i science journalist Jan TenBruggencate:

Image and Cult in Medieval Japanese Buddhism

The Face of JizoStone images of the Buddhist deity Jizo—bedecked in a red cloth bib and presiding over offerings of flowers, coins, candles, and incense—are a familiar sight throughout Japan. Known in China as a savior from hell’s torment, Jizo in Japan came to be utterly transformed through fusion with the local tradition of kami worship and ancient fertility cults. In particular, the Jizo cult became associated with gods of borders or transitions: the stone gods known as dosojin. Although the study of Jizo is often relegated to the folkloric, The Face of Jizo: Image and Cult in Medieval Japanese Buddhism, a highly original and readable book by Hank Glassman, demonstrates that the bodhisattva’s cult was promoted and embraced at the most elite levels of society.

“By wrapping the Japanese images of the bodhisattva Jizō in their intriguing individual and collective stories, The Face of Jizō emphasizes the movement of this deity, who not only protects travellers but also treks between hell and paradise in his quest to save sentient beings. Professor Glassman has created a major contribution to studies of cult images that extends well beyond art historical analyses to delve into other fascinating areas of inquiry. The author’s thorough research, lively writing style, and deft exposition of exciting tales guide readers on a magnificent journey through the history, literature, performance, and visual culture related to Jizō in Japan from the thirteenth to the seventeenth century. From lavishly colored paintings and sculptures to simple stones, beloved images of Jizō are brought to life in the pages of this book.” —Sherry Fowler, University of Kansas

January 2012 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3581-1 / $25.00 (PAPER)

The Painted King Author Interviewed

Glenn Wharton, author of The Painted King: Art, Activism, and Authenticity in Hawaii, recently spoke about his book, queer conservation, and the complexities of community-based cultural engagement. The interview appeared online in both San Francisco’s Bay Area Reporter and Chicago’s Windy City Times.

On Wharton’s attraction to Hawai‘i: I’ve always been attracted to Hawaiian culture, in part because of the falsetto singing, ukulele music, and storytelling through dance, but also because of the gentle nature of many Hawaiians that I’ve met over the years. As an island culture, everything moves more slowly. People in semi-rural areas like the one that surrounds the Kamehameha I sculpture embrace outsiders with warm aloha, but only after the outsider has proven that they have a genuine love for the culture and the land.

On the decision to restore the Kamehameha statue to its painted form: “As I got deeper into the community, I learned there were many voices, and they didn’t all agree on the sculpture’s meaning or how to go about conserving it. Indeed, some of my colleagues on the mainland did accuse me of ‘going native’ in that I was sharing professional authority with people who didn’t ‘understand art history,’ and that we should honor the original artist’s intention no matter what local residents think today. Maintaining the rather quirky tradition of painting the sculpture in life-like colors that’s evolved since its 1883 installation was going a bit too far for some of my colleagues.”

Choice Magazine’s Outstanding Academic Titles for 2011 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 UH Press book was recognized for 2011. A complete list of titles will be available in Choice’s January 2012 issue.

Soldiers on the Cultural Front: Developments in the Early History of North Korean Literature and Literary Policy by Tatiana Gabroussenko

“[A] superbly researched, readable study. . . . Gabroussenko’s account of writers in the last ‘socialist paradise’ is invaluable, if tragic, reading. . . . Highly recommended.” —Choice (February 2011)

Sitting in Oblivion: The Heart of Daoist Meditation, by Livia Kohn and distributed by UH Press for Three Pines Press, was also recognized as a 2011 Outstanding Academic Title.