Back to the future: discursive practices on identity, remembrance and resistance in late-modern anthropology

Location 201 A
Date and Start Time 18 May, 2014 at 10:30


Maria Grajdian (Nagasaki University) email
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Short Abstract

This panel deals with the dialectic interplay between identity, remembrance and resistance in constructing collective awareness of geographic-historical belonging in Hong Kong, Japan, Chile and Colombia, based on empirical data of cultural artifacts and their theoretical analysis.

Long Abstract

The presentations included in this panel pursue the analysis of cultural artifacts such as the entertainment industry and its influence on the emotional construction of childhood in hindsight, animation and its translation into reality, arpilleras and their increasingly global diffusion and implementation, Colombian local narrations and songs related to isolation and self-actualization. Focusing on empirical data collected in the field - China, Japan, Chile and Colombia - combined with theoretical elements which highlight the universality of human desires and efforts in times of turmoil and distraught, the presentations foreground the necessity of remembrance and resistance in the process of identity construction - individual or collective. The dialectical interplay between identity as the continuous delimitation of the self from the other, remembrance and resistance - viewed as the inner power to overpass childhood nostalgias and reflect maturely upon one's role in the world respectively as the ability to cope with regimes of denial and to recreate reality via artistic means - becomes thus a progressive tool in establishing new foundations in the practice of integration and inter-human communication. Furthermore, the anthropological discourse appears as a dynamic play (in Wittgenstein's and Lyotard's conceptualization: the differentiation between substantiality and simulation within the intricacies of language) possessing the capacity to guide the researcher in his/her quotidian endeavor to discover worlds of love and beauty beyond the superficiality of war, consumerism and discrimination.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Role of agent conveying Japanese pop culture

Author: Miu Yin Ha (The University of Hong Kong)  email

Short Abstract

This panel aims to study the role of agent that bought Japanese pop culture to the local society through years. Different cases will be discussed about the importance and development of agent in an autobiographical approach.

Long Abstract

It was our golden memories when we think of ourselves becoming a fan of Japan artists. The perfect image of the Japanese artists were highly promoted in the scene, and affecting the production and consumption of popular culture in Japan and overseas. Magazines with the Japanese idol on the cover page and feature story, the entertainment magazines established and got successful sales in the market.

How's the contribution of 'agent' or mediator in entertainment industry and media business that possibly influence the pop scene? What aspects of pop scene did the 'agents' introduce the Japanese idol and youth culture to the society? What was the mechanism behind the scene and to what extent did the imported Japanese culture in local magazines; pop music and comics influence the youth generation?

A central theme of this panel is to investigate the role of "Agents" who act as the mediator and how they imported the Japanese culture to the local entertainment industry and media business and their change of role.

The return of the object: nature, escapism and happiness in Mei & Satsuki's house on EXPO 2005's site

Author: Maria Grajdian (Nagasaki University)  email

Short Abstract

This presentation points out the relation between nature, escapism and happiness in the process of reconstructing the past, as reflected in the life-large sized replica of the family house from the anime movie My Neighbor Totoro (1988) included among the international pavilions on the EXPO 2005 site.

Long Abstract

The inclusion of an identical, life-large sized replica of the family house from the anime movie My Neighbor Totoro (1988) among the international pavilions on the EXPO 2005 site resulted in the creation of an absolute highlight-sightseeing, running booked-off months in advance during the EXPO; after the EXPO, the whole site eventually became a huge sanctuary for the preservation of nature with Mei & Satsuki's house as a pilgrimage space in the center, in the midst of emerging housing projects suffocating and gradually eliminating the natural habitat; Mei & Satsuki's house attracts tourists and locals in ten-thousands every year (holiday and weekend always booked-off weeks in advance, working days running in average to 97% capacity). Based on extensive fieldwork - interviews & participatory observation over several years - as well as in-depth literature research, this presentation's goal is to point out the intricate relation between nature, escapism and happiness as main parameters in the process of reconstructing the past as a repository of emotional energy and socio-cultural role-models, beyond economic-political compulsions, transgressing the limits of time and space. Thus, it becomes obvious that the "imaginary" and the dynamization of its interaction with the "symbolical" and the "real" (in Julia Kristeva's conceptualization, 1974) play fundamental roles in the creative re-evaluation of "happiness" as an individual choice in late-modern Japan.

Tracing identity resistance practices through artistic discourses in the southwestern region in Colombia

Author: Valeria Guerrero (Universidad Nacional de Colombia)  email

Short Abstract

This paper discusses the way some artists from southwestern Colombia have created discourses through literary and musical sources that reconfigurate an identity that has been stigmatized and essentialized by the rest of Colombian society.

Long Abstract

This study emerges from a personal inquiry about the stigmatization of the Pasto-Nariño region in southwestern Colombia. A myth has been "invented" and perpetuated by a continuous isolation and by the pejorative essentialization of the "regional identity", which has not only found answers and resistance in how the local memory is constructed but also in the way that artists narrate and sing it. As an identification discourse distinguishing events and characterizations is built at national level, locals have selectively created "more dignifying" memories from which recognize themselves, not only through historical writing, but also in their own artistic creations.

The proposed method will evidence that the invention of an identity myth is traceable in the long term (longue durée) and immerses in the structures of culture. Fictions are valuable ethnographic artifacts, not only because they display the way in which the artist perceives reality but because they evidence the artist role as creator of it trough their subjective practices. Thus, a continuous dialogue between history and myth will support the way in which the society constructs memory. Based on this assumption, the analysis of some fictional novels and songs, can speak about the social context, perceptions of reality, feelings and idealizations. Finally, such artistic creations have played a major role in the reconstruction of an alternative regional identity.

Visual/textile narratives that resonate lives: testimonies of daily life and sufferings in arpilleras

Author: Tomoko Sakai (Kobe University)  email

Short Abstract

This paper explores the potential of visual and textile narrative to create resonances between social sufferings of different local contexts. The focus is on arpilleras, a type of textile art originally from Latin America, that have recently seen an international expansion.

Long Abstract

This paper explores the potential of visual and textile narrative to create resonances between social sufferings in different local contexts. The focus here is on arpilleras, a type of textile art that portrays people's daily experiences in their political and social contexts, that are now attracting attention as media of testimonies. Arpillera-making as a social and political movement developed in Chile during the period of dictatorship. In urban working-class communities, women started to sew together scraps of old clothes and materials to picture their personal experiences: daily life under political oppression; mutual help in the poor neighbourhood; long-lasting search for a close family member who disappeared. Some of the works were exported, with the aid of international support groups, to let the world know the predicament the people were in.

Recently the technique came to be widely known through international exhibitions to have inspired people in many different regional and social contexts to make their own works. The way the simplest forms of human figures, often three-dimensional small dolls, are used to represent serious social sufferings, against a backdrop of the home landscape in soft-textured applique, enables arpilleras to narrate complex senses of belongingness. This eloquence, if not fully graspable, touches the mind of those who see the works and evokes images of their own life experiences.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.