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Art as Politics

Kathleen M. Adams

Art as Politics explores the intersection of art, identity politics, and tourism in Sulawesi, Indonesia. Based on long-term ethnographic research from the 1980s to the present, the book offers a nuanced portrayal of the Sa’dan Toraja, a predominantly Christian minority group in the world’s most populous Muslim country. Celebrated in anthropological and tourism literatures for their spectacular traditional houses, sculpted effigies of the dead, and pageantry-filled funeral rituals, the Toraja have entered an era of accelerated engagement with the global economy marked by on-going struggles over identity, religion, and social relations. In her engaging account, Kathleen Adams chronicles how various Toraja individuals and groups have drawn upon artistically-embellished "traditional" objects—as well as monumental displays, museums, UNESCO ideas about "word heritage," and the World Wide Web—to shore up or realign aspects of a cultural heritage perceived to be under threat. She also considers how outsiders—be they tourists, art collectors, members of rival ethnic groups, or government officials—have appropriated and reframed Toraja art objects for their own purposes. Her account illustrates how art can serve as a catalyst in identity politics, especially in the context of tourism and social upheaval. Ultimately, this insightful work prompts readers to rethink persistent and pernicious popular assumptions—that tourism invariably brings a loss of agency to local communities or that tourist art is a compromised form of expression. Art as Politics promises to be a favorite with students and scholars of anthropology, sociology, cultural studies, ethnic relations, art, and Asian studies.

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The Art of Censorship in Postwar Japan

Kirsten Cather

In 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 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 work draws on diverse sources, including trial transcripts and verdicts, literary and film theory, legal scholarship, and surrounding debates in artistic journals and the press. By combining a careful analysis of the legal cases with a detailed rendering of cultural, historical, and political contexts, Cather demonstrates how legal arguments are enmeshed in a broader web of cultural forces. She offers an original, interdisciplinary analysis that shows how art and law nurtured one another even as they clashed and demonstrates the dynamic relationship between culture and law, society and politics in postwar Japan.

The Art of Censorship will appeal to those interested in literary and visual studies, censorship, and the recent field of affect studies. It will also find a broad readership among cultural historians of the postwar period and fans of the works and genres discussed.

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Art, Religion, and Politics in Medieval China

The Dunhuang Cave of the Zhai Family

by Ning Qiang

The cave-temple complex popularly known as the Dunhuang caves is the world’s largest extant repository of Tang Buddhist art. Among the best preserved of the Dunhuang caves is the Zhai Family Cave, built in 642. It is this remarkable cave-temple that forms the focus of Ning Qiang’s cross-disciplinary exploration of the interrelationship of art, religion, and politics during the Tang. The author combines, in his careful examination of the paintings and sculptures found there, the historical study of pictures with the pictorial study of history. By employing this two-fold approach, he is able to refer to textual evidence in interpreting the formal features of the cave temple paintings and to employ visual details to fill in the historical gaps inevitably left by text-oriented scholars. The result is a comprehensive analysis of the visual culture of the period and a vivid description of social life in medieval China. The original Zhai Family Cave pictures were painted over in the tenth century and remained hidden until the early 1940s. Once exposed, the early artwork appeared fresh and colorful in comparison with other Tang paintings at Dunhuang. The relatively fine condition of the Zhai Family Cave is crucial to our understanding of the original pictorial program found there and offers a unique opportunity to investigate the visual details of the original paintings and sculptures in the cave. At the same time, the remaining traces of reconstruction and redecoration provide a new perspective on how, for over three centuries, a wealthy Chinese clan used its familial cave as a political showcase.

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Articulating Rapa Nui

Polynesian Cultural Politics in a Latin American Nation-State

Riet Delsing

In this groundbreaking study, Riet Delsing narrates the colonization of the Pacific island of Rapa Nui and its indigenous inhabitants. The annexation of the island by Chile, in the heydays of world imperialism, places the small Latin American country in a unique position in the history of global colonialism. The analysis of this ongoing colonization process constitutes a “missing link” in Pacific Islands studies and facilitates future comparisons with other colonial adventures in the Pacific by the United States (Hawai‘i, American Samoa), France (Tahiti), and New Zealand (Maori and Cook Islands).

The first part of the book surveys the history of the Chile–Rapa Nui relationship from its beginning in the 1880s until the present. Delsing delineates the Rapanui people’s agency along with their cultural logic, showing their resilience and will to remain Rapanui— indigenous Pacific islanders rather than an ethnic minority forcefully integrated into the Chilean nation-state. In the second part, the author describes the Rapanui’s contemporary emphasis on the revitalization of their language, traditional concepts about land tenure, a unique corpus of material and performative culture, renewed contact with other Pacific island cultures, and creative acts of resistance against Chilean colonialism. Emergent in her analysis is the effect of Rapa Nui’s vibrant tourist industry—commodification of Rapanui difference is creating the possibility to loosen economic and political ties with Chile.

Drawing on statements of several Rapanui, she concludes that over the past few decades they have acquired a different kind of interpretive power, based on which they are making choices that serve them as a people on the road to cultural and political self-determination. Contemporary Rapa Nui is thus a modern, articulated place, marked by spirited identity politics that show the resilience and adaptability of the indigenous people who inhabit this island.

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Artistic Detachment in Japan and the West

Psychic Distance in Comparative Aesthetics

by Steve Odin

Artistic Detachment in Japan and the West takes up the notion of artistic detachment, or psychic distance, as an intercultural motif for East-West comparative aesthetics. The work begins with an overview of aesthetic theory in the West from the eighteenth-century empiricists to contemporary aesthetics and concludes with a survey of various critiques of psychic distance. Throughout, the author takes a highly innovative approach by juxtaposing Western aesthetic theory against Eastern (primarily Japanese) aesthetic theory. Weaving between cultures and time periods, the author focuses on a remarkably wide range of theories: in the West, the Kantian notion of disinterested contemplation, Heidegger's Gelassenheit, semiotics, and pragmatism; in Japan, Zeami's notion of riken no ken, the Kyoto School's intepretation of nothingness, D. T. Suzuki's analysis of the function of no-mind, and the writings of Kuki Shuzo on Buddhist detachment. "Portrait of the artist" fiction by such writers as Henry James, James Joyce, Mori Ogai, and Natsume Soseki demonstrates how the main theme of detachment is expressed in literary traditions. The role of sympathy or pragmatism in relation to disinterest is examined, suggesting conflicts within or challenges to the notion of detachment. Researchers and students in Eastern and Western areas of study, including philosophers and religionists, as well as literary and cultural critics, will deem this work an invaluable contribution to cross-cultural philosophy and literary studies.

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Asia's Orthographic Dilemma

by William C. Hannas

With the advent of computers and the rise of East Asian economies, the complicated character-based writing systems of East Asia have reached a stage of crisis that may be described as truly millennial in scope and implications. In what is perhaps the most wide-ranging critique of the sinographic script ever written, William C. Hannas assesses the usefulness of Chinese character-based writing in East Asia today.

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Asian Perspectives

Vol. 39 (2000) through current issue

Asian Perspectives: The Journal of Archaeology for Asia and the Pacific is the leading peer-reviewed archaeological journal devoted to the prehistory of Asia and the Pacific region. In addition to archaeology, it features articles and book reviews on ethnoarchaeology, palaeoanthropology, physical anthropology,and ethnography of interest and use to the prehistorian. International specialists contribute regional reports summarizing current research and fieldwork, and present topical reports of significant sites. Occasional special issues focus on single topics.

Editors: Mike Carson, Micronesian Area Research Center, University of Guam: Pacific Region. Rowan Flad, Department of Anthropology, Harvard University: Asian Region.

Submit your manuscript online at http://asianperspectives.msubmit.net

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Asian Settler Colonialism

From Local Governance to the Habits of Everyday Life in Hawaii

edited by Candace Fujikane and Jonathan Y. Okamura

Asian Settler Colonialism is a groundbreaking collection that examines the roles of Asians as settlers in Hawai‘i. Contributors from various fields and disciplines investigate aspects of Asian settler colonialism to illustrate its diverse operations and impact on Native Hawaiians. Essays range from analyses of Japanese, Korean, and Filipino settlement to accounts of Asian settler practices in the legislature, the prison industrial complex, and the U.S. military to critiques of Asian settlers’ claims to Hawai‘i in literature and the visual arts.

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Asian Theatre Journal

Vol. 16, no. 2 (1999) through current issue

Asian Theatre Journal is dedicated to the performing arts of Asia, focusing upon both traditional and modern theatrical forms. It aims to facilitate the exchange of knowledge throughout the international theatrical community for the mutual benefit of all interested scholars and artists. This engaging, intercultural journal offers descriptive and analytical articles, original plays and play translations, book and audiovisual reviews, and reports of current theatrical activities in Asia. Full-color plates and black-and-white photographs illustrate each issue.

Editor: Kathy Foley, Theatre Arts Dept., UCSC

Sponsor: Association for Asian Performance of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education

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Astronomy's Limitless Journey

A Guide to Understanding the Universe

Günther Hasinger

When observing the sky on a very clear, dark night, the soft glow of the Milky Way with its thousands of stars can be seen with the naked eye. Over the centuries since Galileo Galilei first pointed a telescope at the galaxy in 1609, this awe-inspiring yet easily visible panorama was our cosmos, our celestial world. With each new scientific discovery, however, this cosmos has grown dramatically, increasing rapidly over the last several decades. As we look deeper into space, the earlier phases of the cosmos are unveiled to us, but we know that even with the largest telescopes, we will see only a tiny fraction of the vast expanse of the Universe. In Astronomy's Limitless Journey, astrophysicist Günther Hasinger takes the reader on a journey to the far reaches of the Universe—an exciting time travel that begins with the incredibly hot fireball of the Big Bang roughly 13.8 billion years ago and ends in distant aeons with its cold, dark demise. In between lie the times in which extensive structures, galaxies, stars, and planets form. As the field of astrophysics and cosmology experiences a "golden age" due to larger telescopes, faster computers, and more sophisticated algorithms, fundamental changes are taking place in our understanding of space and time and of the origin and future of our Universe. Hasinger thoroughly explains these fascinating revelations and describes the methods utilized in modern astrophysics. He cautions, however, that the boundaries between knowledge and ignorance shift constantly; where our knowledge is so incomplete such that we can only speculate, the journey becomes shaky. Indeed, every new discovery opens a further door to the unknown and with every answered question, we discover more locked doors still to be opened.

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