Beyond Ainu Studies: Changing Academic and Public Perspectives

Hudson-BeyondAinuStudiesIn 2008, 140 years after it had annexed Ainu lands, the Japanese government shocked observers by finally recognizing Ainu as an Indigenous people. In this moment of unparalleled political change, it was Uzawa Kanako, a young Ainu activist, who signalled the necessity of moving beyond the historical legacy of “Ainu studies.” Mired in a colonial mindset of abject academic practices, Ainu Studies was an umbrella term for an approach that claimed scientific authority vis-à-vis Ainu, who became its research objects. As a result of this legacy, a latent sense of suspicion still hangs over the purposes and intentions of non-Ainu researchers.

This major new volume seeks to re-address the role of academic scholarship in Ainu social, cultural, and political affairs. Placing Ainu firmly into current debates over Indigeneity, Beyond Ainu Studies provides a broad yet critical overview of the history and current status of Ainu research.

Julie Nelson Davis Foresees Rich Collection of Japanese Art Books As Researchers’ Treasure

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photo by Connie Kang for The Daily Pennsylvanian

Associate professor of art history Julie Nelson Davis was interviewed by The Daily Pennsylvanian about the recent donation of 1,300 books and periodicals on Japanese art to University of Pennsylvania libraries. Davis, author of Utamaro and the Spectacle of Beauty, called the endowment by Shirley and Marilyn Luber (wife and daughter of the late Philadelphia art collector Gilbert Luber) “one of the broadest and deepest private collections of books about Japanese prints I have ever encountered.” She hopes her students will be able to use the collection in her curatorial seminar this spring.

Professor Davis’ forthcoming Partners in Print: Artistic Collaboration and the Market for Ukiyo-e in Late Eighteenth-Century Japan is scheduled for spring 2015. Illustrated with more than a hundred color and black-and-white photographs, Davis’ account of collaboration in ukiyo-e will offer a new approach to understanding the production and reception of the images of the “floating world” in early modern Japan.

Luke Roberts Interview at New Books in East Asian Studies

Carla Nappi of the New Books in East Asian Studies podcast calls Performing the Great Peace: Political Space and Open Secrets in Tokugawa Japan “a gracefully-written study of the performance of authority in Tokugawa politics. It is also one of the most thoughtful historical studies that I’ve had the pleasure to read in a long time.” Listen to her interview with author Luke Roberts here.