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Spring 2021 Events


The Limits of Hope: Discourses of the Future Among Contemporary Japanese Younger Adults

by Judit Kroo, Asst. Professor, SILC

Jan 22, 2021 


This presentation considers how contemporary younger adults discursively articulate the availability of possible futures under conditions of marginalizing neoliberal capitalism (Brinton 2010). Contemporary university students in Japan face difficult circumstances, including a prolonged recession that has left many without stable employment. The ‘exhaustion’ (Povinelli 2011) of life in extended precarity (Allison 2013) has further given rise to narratives of disaffected younger adults who are seen as lacking will or ability compared to ‘hardworking’ older adults. At the same time, university students inhabit a liminal space where post-graduation life still constitutes a horizon of multiple potential futures.

For these younger adults, discourses of futsuu ‘ordinariness’ and antei ‘stability’ emerge as a locus of aspiration and fear. Individuals describe their parents’ generation as one in which doing things futsuu ni ‘ordinarily’ was enough to guarantee shiawase ‘happiness’.  Being futsuu ni shiawase ‘ordinarily happy’ structures a desirable future horizon, but also one that has disappeared; for younger adults futsuu ni shite mo umaku ikani ‘even if you do things ordinarily, they won’t work out’. That is to say, futsuu ni sureba ‘doing things ordinarily’ is no longer sufficient to achieve an ordinary ‘good life’ (Berlant 2011).

Similarly, younger adults consider themselves to be fuantei ‘unstable’ and articulate value schema such that antei shita tokoro ‘a stable place’ is understood as site of a desirable future: hayaku antei shita tokoro ni ikitai desu ‘I want to go to stable place quickly’. According to this schema, yume ‘dreams’ themselves are understood as fuanteisugiru ‘too unstable’; rather than dreams, ‘ordinary’ jobs become loci of aspiration since mukashi kara no kaisha tte nanka sugoi antei shiteru ‘companies from way back are like extremely stable’.

Interrogating the potential for contemporary younger adults to imagine alternative future lives (Lear 2006), this presentation considers what it means to endure (Povinelli 2011) and to imagine the future in the face of social precarity and marginalization.

Flyer Kroo


FLAS Information Session

Feb 3, 2021

This information session is for prospective FLAS applicants who want to be considered for FLAS awards for the academic year (2021-2022) and summer (2021) terms. We will answer questions and provide tips on how to put together a strong application, including writing self-statements and ensuring that all parts of the application are submitted in time for the review committee’s considerations early in the spring semester.

This session was recorded. Please access it here:

Graduate Research Seminar

"The Entanglement of Light with Dark: Picturing Traditional Japan in the Era of Modernization"

by Sarah Gossett, PhD Candidate, Herberger Institute 

Feb 5, 2021


During Japan's rapid westernization in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a sense of longing for a "traditional" Japan emerged in the writings of such authors as Izumi Kyōka, Tanizaki Junichirō, Akutagawa Ryūnosuke and Yanagita Kunio. A pervasive fascination with light and dark, dawn and twilight, and rationalism and the uncanny was inextricably intertwined with these writers’ visions of traditional Japan. This presentation will explore the idea that the contemporaneous shin hanga woodblock print movement--until recently dismissed as "low art"-- represents a visual counterpart to the literary fascinations and longings of the era.

Flyer Gossett

Career & Internship at the Department of State

by Laura Gritz, the diplomat in resident for Southwest region

Feb 10, 2021

Join us on Wednesday Feb 10, 2021 at 4:00 pm to hear about career opportunities at the Department of State. The diplomat in residence for Southwest region, Laura Gritz, will be presenting different career paths to our students.

To learn more about our diplomat in residence, please visit:

Flyer Gritz

This Session was recorded. Please view it here:

Faculty Research Seminar

Alexander the Great in Malay Islamic Kingship

by Han Hsien Liew, Asst. Professor, SHPRS

Feb 19, 2021


This presentation explores how the representation of Alexander the Great evolved from the Perso-Arabic Islamic literary tradition to the epics and chronicles of the Malay Islamic world. It focuses particularly on the Sejarah Melayu (Malay Annals), a work composed between the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries to chronicle the Malay sultanate of Melaka. Although the Sejarah Melayu displays an awareness of the Perso-Arabic image of Alexander as a just and wise Muslim ruler, it places more emphasis on his role as a genealogical fount of future Malay sultans. In the absence of a sacred lineage that could be traced back to the family of the Prophet Muhammad, the Alexandrian lineage became a means of connecting the Malay sultans to a sacred Islamic heritage that can be traced to the Qur’an. This appeal to the lineage of Alexander speaks to the transmission of ideas across the Indian Ocean in the post-classical age of Islam as well as to the gradual crystallization of a Malay identity that was increasingly defined in relation to Islam. 

Flyer Liew


Graduate Research Seminar

Locating Lumbinī: Theravāda and Modernity on the Frontier of Nepal

by Blayne Harcey, PhD Candidate, Religious Studies

March 5, 2021


The birthplace of the Buddha at Lumbinī in the southern Terai region has been a focal point in the resurgence of Buddhism in Nepal since its rediscovery in 1896. During the early decades of the 20th century Lumbinī operated as a potent place for localizing the discourse of modernist Buddhism. This presentation draws on archival data and ethnographic fieldwork to investigate the emergence of novel forms of Buddhist practice in the Hindu majority territory of Nepal. While much of the academic discussion of “modernist” or “protestant” Buddhisms draws from Buddhist majority countries in South, Southeast, and East Asia, locating similar conversations and practices at Lumbinī highlights the transnational scope of such phenomena. The Buddhist biographical genre and the reclamation of the Buddhist “Holy Land” operate as powerful themes in the articulation of Buddhism in modernity.

Flyer Blayne

This session is recorded. Please access it here:

Lecture on Asia

Not-So-Crazy Rich: Elite Asians & the Re-Worlding of American Racial Hierarchy

by Aihwa Ong, Professor and Robert H. Lowie Distinguished Chair in Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley

March 16, 2021


In an age of unsurpassed mobility, the meaning of "Asian" is mutating within global mediascapes that entangle images, narratives, and normas.

he ubiquity and visibility of diverse elite Asians in global spaces destabilize Western models that have long viewed things "Asian" as exotically poor and backward. I compare media images of two categories of circulating Asian elites -- the super-rich and the avant garde -- who variously disrupt global cultural normativity of white supremacy. The differential reception of these elite Asian subjects in cosmopolitan spaces, I suggest, reveals the workings of a racial biopolitics that pivots on contrasts of visibility/invisibility, and animal/human.

Asian displays of opulent lifestyles in popular media, I argue, are generally embraced as a successful mimicry of Western forms. At the same time, to far-flung peoples of Asian ancestries, elite Asian materialist culture has become a badge of global respectability and evidence of a rising Asian global class.

By contrast, in the storied realm of American museums, contemporary Chinese artists are subjected to a more rigorous test of acceptable cosmopolitanism. I discuss a famous exhibition that encountered protests and the subsequent banning of artworks deemed cruel to animals. To custodians of Western aesthetics, contemporary Chinese artists cannot escape the whiff of animals.

My question is, by intruding into global spaces and upsetting Western assumptions linking race, wealth, and aesthetics, do elite Asian subjects become further ensnared in a racializing logic of humanity? The reworlding of American racial hierarchy seems ensured when representative regimes endorse the parasitic acquisition of entrenched materialism while deflecting moral claims to humanity. 

This session is recorded. Please access it here: 

Flyer Ong

A seminar Discussion with Professor Aihwa Ong, UC Berkeley

Biopolitics: The Construction of the Human

by Aihwa Ong, Professor and Robert H. Lowie Distinguished Chair in Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley

March 17, 2021


Professor Ong's recent work on biopolitics, post-genomic theories and governance in Asian and western contexts will provide points of departure in this transdisciplinary and transregional conversation with ASU faculty and graduate students.

Ong Seminar
Credit: BGI Genetics photo of a Chinese researcher collecting a blood sample from an ethnic Tibetan man Participating in a DNA study


Annual Staley Lecture

An Art of Listening: Murakami Haruki and the Structure of Literature

by Michael Emmerich, Professor of Japanese, Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, UCLA

April 12, 2021

This event is sponsored by the School of International Letters and Cultures and made possible through a generous endowment by Mr. Robert C. Staley.

Michael Emmerich is Professor of Japanese in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles and a world-renowned scholar of premodern and contemporary Japanese literature.  He is the author of The Tale of Genji: Translation, Canonization, and World Literature (Columbia University Press, 2013), and has translated over a dozen book-length works by authors ranging from the Nobel Prize laureate Kawabata Yasunari to immensely popular contemporary writers like Yoshimoto Banana and Takahashi Gen'ichirō.


Murakami Haruki is exceptional in many ways, among them the extent of the popularity his works have achieved in translations around the world, and the persistence with which critics have framed this very popularity as an index of his failure to be “Japanese” enough. Taking as its starting point the notion that one might speak of a “Murakami generation” of scholars of Japanese literature and the question of what this might mean, this talk will propose a new way to think about the structure of literature as a global phenomenon—and specifically to our understanding of the relationship of so-called literary centers and peripheries—that better accords not only with Murakami’s career as a writer, but also with a broadly shared understanding of what it is professors of literature are trying to accomplish in the classroom.

Picture Murakami Studio

Haruki Murakami

Photo Credit: New York Times
Photo Credit: New York Times

Murakami Haruki is a Japanese novelist, essayist, and translator, whose best-selling works include The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Norwegian Wood, 1Q84, and Kafka on the Shore. His work has received numerous awards, both in Japan and internationally, including the Franz Kafka Prize, the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, and the Jerusalem Prize.

Recommended Reading

Supplementary Readings

Toward Canon-building in Pansori, Korean Traditional Storysinging

by Dr. Chan E. Park, Professor Emeritus in the Department of East Asian Languages & Literatures, Ohio State University

April 14, 2021

Presenter's Biography:

Dr. Park's specialties include research and performance of Korean musical and oral narrative tradition. She is the author of Voices from the Straw Mat: Toward an Ethnography of Korean Story Singing (University of Hawaii Press 2003) and the forthcoming monograph, Pansori as Voice Theatre: History, Theory, and Practice (Forthcoming, Bloomsbury Forms of Drama Series). Park trained in pansori singing under the late virtuoso Chung Kwonjin. Recent artistic productions include Fox Hunt and the Death of a Queen (w/ Kathy Foley, 2012); The Ohio State University annual Wind and Stream celebration of Korean performance (2013-2019), and Look & Listen: Asian Art and Music (w/ the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, February 18, 2021).


The formation of an artistic canon is typically a process of contestation and questions about inclusion, scope, and other delimiters. Pansori is a Korean traditional storysinging form where a trained singer, accompanied on the drum, navigates the story’s drama through sung and spoken verse. The genre of pansori emerged from the pre-eighteenth century culture of folk and ritual musical storytelling. In general, it was performed by socially marginalized gwangdae performers, and came into its heyday another century later with generational transmission of talent and style, increased scholarly attention, and the patronage of yangban aristocrats.  Interested singers and literati collaborated to gentrify the text and performance of pansori to meet the changing venue and audience. From a set of twelve pieces, five (Song of Chunhyang, Song of Sim Cheong, Song of Jeokbyeok, Song of Heungbo, Song of the Underwater Palace) were selected and revised into texts for teaching the five signature Confucian cardinal virtues. These five narratives have been foundational in the continuation of pansori.

In this talk, I will examine the built canon of pansori using the contrasts between the included five and excluded seven. What essential condition(s) did the excluded seven fail to satisfy, in terms of art, philosophy, and politics? In response to this question, I will discuss the effects of canon building and future directions for pansori practitioners, scholars, and enthusiasts in the twenty-first century. Q&A to follow.

To watch a short documentary on Pansori, please click here: 

Pansori: south Korea's Authentic Musical Storytelling