Damien by Aldyth Morris Revisited

Saint DamienThis weekend, July 28 and 29, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Outreach College presents two performances of DAMIEN, the award-winning one-man play by Aldyth Morris. The riveting drama of Saint Damien’s life in Hawai‘i will be performed by actor Dann Seki and directed by Tim Slaughter. The entire playscript is included in Almost Heaven: On the Human and Divine (Mānoa 23:2), which will be available for sale at the performances. The 1980 edition of the play is still available by order from UH Press.

Act One opens with a chant, written originally in Hawaiian by a composer and hula master who contracted leprosy and died at the Kalaupapa settlement on Moloka‘i. “Song of the Chanter Ka-‘ehu” begins:

What will become of Hawai‘i?
What will leprosy do to our land—
disease of the despised, dreaded alike
by white or brown or darker-skinned?

Strange when a man’s neighors
become less than acquaintances.
Seeing me they drew away.
They moved to sit elsewhere, whispering,
and a friend pointed a finger:
“He is a leper.”

In Memoriam — Jerry Bentley (1949–2012)

Professor, editor, and author Jerry Bentley passed away on July 15 in Honolulu.

Bentley taught early modern European and world history at the University of Hawai‘i. While his early research centered on the religious and political writings of the Renaissance, he became one of the most cited experts in global history and the processes of cross-cultural interaction in particular. He was the founding editor of the Journal of World History and co-editor of the series Perspectives on the Global Past. In 2002 he became the director of the Center for World History at UH. Most recently, Bentley was a guest professor at the Global History Center, Capital Normal University, in Beijing.

Messages of condolence and support to the Bentley family may be sent via Dr. Sun Yue at suny_wood@yahoo.com.

In Memoriam – Will Kyselka (1921-2012)

Author and teacher Will Kyselka, a key figure in the revival of Polynesian wayfinding who sailed aboard the escort vessel for Hokule‘a on its 1980 voyage, passed away on July 1 at the age of 91. He was a lecturer at the Bishop Museum Planetarium and a retired associate professor at the University of Hawai‘i Curriculum Research & Development Group. Long fascinated with modes of learning, in An Ocean in Mind he told the story of the 1980 journey while exploring how the mind acquires, utilizes, and transmits different forms of knowledge.

The ‘Ukulele: A History Book Launch

The Ukulele book launch inviteJim Tranquada, director of communications at Occidental College in Los Angeles, will visit Honolulu to launch the book he co-wrote with the late John King, The ‘Ukulele: A History, on Saturday, July 21, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., at Native Books/Nā Mea Hawai‘i  in Ward Warehouse (‘ewa end, 1050 Ala Moana Boulevard). He will give a short talk and gather family, friends, and ‘ukulele fans to celebrate the book’s publication. Refreshments and kanikapila (informal jam session) will follow his presentation. The public is invited to the free event and encouraged to bring their ‘ukulele to join in the fun.

A former newspaper reporter, Tranquada is a great-great grandson of ‘ukulele pioneer Augusto Dias. John King was widely acknowledged as one of the modern masters of the ‘ukulele.

Tranquada’s visit is timed so he can enjoy the 42nd Annual Ukulele Festival Hawaii on Sunday, July 22 at the Kapiolani Park Bandstand in Waikiki.

Gender, Power, and Buddhist Practice in Vietnam

The Buddha Side
The most common description of the supernatural landscape in Vietnam makes a distinction between Buddhist and non-Buddhist “sides.” The “Buddha side” (ben phat) is the focus of this investigation into the intersection of gender, power, and religious praxis. Employing an anthropological approach to Buddhist practice that takes into account modes of action that are not only socially constructed and contextual, but also negotiated by the actors, The Buddha Side: Gender, Power, and Buddhist Practice in Vietnam, by Alexander Soucy, uniquely explores how gender and age affect understandings of what it means to be a Buddhist.

The Buddha Side is an outstanding study. Embracing complexity and variation, Alexander Soucy deftly describes and analyzes the wide range of attitudes toward, engagements with, and meanings of Buddhism and Buddhist practice in contemporary northern Vietnam. It is a model anthropological study of religion, especially in its approach to gender, and will be of value to all scholars who seek a deeper understanding of religion as a lived human experience.” —Shaun Kingsley Malarney, International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan

Topics in Contemporary Buddhism
July 2012 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3598-9 / $49.00 (CLOTH)

Tracing Obscenity Trials in Postwar Japan

The Art of Censorship in Postwar JapanIn 2002 a manga (comic book) was for the first time successfully charged with the crime of obscenity in the Japanese courts. In The Art of Censorship in Postwar Japan, Kirsten Cather traces how this case represents the most recent in a long line of sensational landmark obscenity trials that have dotted the history of postwar Japan. The objects of these trials range from a highbrow literary translation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and modern adaptations and reprintings of Edo-period pornographic literary “classics” by authors such as Nagai Kafu to soft core and hard core pornographic films, including a collection of still photographs and the script from Oshima Nagisa’s In the Realm of the Senses, as well as adult manga. At stake in each case was the establishment of a new hierarchy for law and culture, determining, in other words, to what extent the constitutional guarantee of free expression would extend to art, artist, and audience.

The Art of Censorship in Postwar Japan is among the most lucid and engaging cross-disciplinary projects to emerge from Japan studies in recent years. It will appeal to a broad readership both inside and outside Japan studies, in particular scholars of literature, visual culture, law, and the emerging field of affect studies. Kirsten Cather accomplishes this remarkable feat by combining close readings of aesthetic, literary, and visual texts; careful exegesis of court cases and juridical documents; and detailed rendering of cultural, historical, and political contexts. The Art of Censorship demonstrates once and for all, without ever forcing the issue, that culture and politics are inexorably intertwined. I can think of no other study in the Japanese case that does it so well.” —Gregory M. Pflugfelder, Columbia University

Studies of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute
July 2012 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3587-3 / $45.00 (CLOTH)