Christina M. Spiker

Christina M. Spiker

Art Historian | Professor | Digital Humanist

Article // The Indigenous Shôjo: Transmedia Representations of Ainu Femininity in Japan’s Samurai Spirits, 1993–2019 (Forthcoming)

CITATION

Spiker, Christina M. “The Indigenous Shôjo: Transmedia Representations of Ainu Femininity in Japan’s Samurai Spirits, 1993–2019.” Journal of Anime and Manga Studies 1. Forthcoming 2020.

ABSTRACT

TBD

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Essay // The Texture of Crepe: The Role of Women in the Creation and Consumption of Japanese Crepe-Paper Books (chirimen-bon) (In Preparation)

CITATION

Spiker, Christina. “The Texture of Crepe: The Role of Women in the Creation and Consumption of Japanese Crepe-Paper Books (chirimen-bon).” In preparation for submission.

ABSTRACT

In his book A Shoemaker’s Story, art historian Anthony W. Lee reflects on the importance of investigating local subjects with an eye open to the large—and often global—issues they invoke. He explains that projects such as these are never truly limiting nor local, but instead have the ability to open a meaningful world of inquiry. The Smiling Book, a 24-leaf woodblock printed crepe-paper book (chirimen-bon) released by Japanese publisher Takejiro Hasegawa allows us to apply Lee’s method of working “local” while thinking “global.” Collected by Minnesota artist Evelyn Goodrow Mitsch and housed in St. Catherine University Library’s Special Collections (St. Paul, MN), The Smiling Book might appear both small and unassuming. However, a material history and visual analysis of the work reveals the relationship between the historical use of crepe paper in girls’ culture, the production of densely illustrated crepe paper books for a predominantly Western female audience, and the obscured labor of British, French, and American missionary and military wives who served as writers and translators of these rich image-texts. Histories of Japanese modernization in the Meiji period (1868-1912) often focus on the stories of male dignitaries and officials. The Smiling Book presents us with an alternative, but concurrent, narrative rooted in visual culture. It upsets the image of the male connoisseur of art and culture to highlight the active role of women—both Japanese and foreign—in bridging and introducing Japan to new American (and Midwestern) audiences in the twentieth century.

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Exhibition Catalog // Nostalgic Femininity & From Flowers to Warriors: Japanese Woodblock Prints from the Archives & Special Collections (The Catherine G. Murphy Gallery)



CITATION

Spiker, Christina M. “Nostalgia as Remedy: Contextualizing the Japanese Woodblock Prints in the St. Catherine University Archives and Special Collections.” In Nostalgic Femininity / From Flowers to Warriors: Japanese Woodblock Prints from The St. Catherine University Archives & Special Collections. Exhibition catalog. (The Catherine G. Murphy Gallery, 2019).

VIDEO

You can read my essay digitally or download the entire exhibition catalog through our digital exhibition.

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Essay // The Cost of Precarity: Contingent Academic Labor in the Gig Economy (w/ Kristen Galvin)

CITATION

Galvin, Kristen and Christina M. Spiker. “The Cost of Precarity: Contingent Academic Labor in the Gig Economy,” in Art Journal Open (May 1, 2019).

INFORMATION

This essay builds on an original blog post by the authors titled “Generation Wipeout,” which was a part of a special issue of Art Journal Open titled “Beyond Survival: Public Support of the Arts and Humanities.” The original call was cosigned by Sarah Kanouse (Northeastern University), Catherine Morris (Brooklyn Museum), Mimi Thi Nguyen (University of Illinois), and Jeremy Liu (Creative Ecology Partners).

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Guest Blog // Generation Wipeout (w/ Kristen Galvin)

CITATION

Galvin, Kristen and Christina M. Spiker. “Generation Wipeout,” part of “Beyond Survival: Public Support of the Arts and Humanities” in Art Journal Open (October 25, 2018).

INFORMATION

The original call was cosigned by Sarah Kanouse (Northeastern University), Catherine Morris (Brooklyn Museum), Mimi Thi Nguyen (University of Illinois), and Jeremy Liu (Creative Ecology Partners).

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Website // Mapping Isabella Bird (Scalar 2)

CITATION

Spiker, Christina M. Mapping Isabella Bird: Geolocation & Unbeaten Tracks in Japan (1880). http://mapping.cmspiker.com/japan/.

DESCRIPTION

This website is an open-source hub for students, educators, and researchers interested in the history of explorer Isabella Lucy Bird (1831-1904). It uses her example to explore the relationship between maps, explorers, visual culture, and tourism in Japan in the late nineteenth century. I first became interested in Isabella Bird while completing my doctoral dissertation on indigenous Ainu representation and the exploration of Hokkaido, and the digital project began in earnest in 2017.

The website is built using Scalar 2, a free, open source publishing platform developed by the University of Southern California and now a project of the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture (ANVC) that is designed for long-form, born-digital scholarship online. I wanted to work with Scalar specifically for the ability to assemble a rich media archive and annotate these images in conjunction with my writing. I also enjoy the ability to link media to writing to tags in a way that doesn’t privilege any one form of content over another. These connections can then be visualized in several ways as the project grows.

Many of the interactive maps found on this site are powered by tabular data (spreadsheets) culled from historical texts freely available on Archive.org and HathiTrust Digital Library. These sources are in the public domain. This information is visualized through various geospatial mapping applications, such as CARTO, ArcGIS, and Google Maps. These maps are then placed into context alongside examples of relevant visual culture. Some of the maps integrated were initially created for other projects, such as Traveling Hokkaido.

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Book Chapter // “Civilized” Men and “Superstitious” Women: Visualizing the Hokkaido Ainu in Isabella Bird’s Unbeaten Tracks, 1880

CITATION

Spiker, Christina. “‘Civilized’ Men and ‘Superstitious’ Women: Visualizing the Hokkaido Ainu in Isabella Bird’s Unbeaten Tracks, 1880.” In Gender, Continuity, and the Shaping of Modernity in the Arts of East Asia, 16th–20th Centuries, edited by Lara Blanchard and Kristen Chiem, 287-315. Leiden: Brill, 2017.

ABSTRACT

Open any modern travel guide on Japan and you will likely find mention of Victorian explorer, writer, and naturalist Isabella Lucy Bird (1851–1904). Known for her travels throughout the United States, Australia, and Asia, Bird’s publications and vibrant lecture circuit made her a household name in nineteenth-century Great Britain. Her two-volume work Unbeaten Tracks in Japan is unique in its detailed, subjective account of the customs and manners of the Ainu—the indigenous minority dwelling in Hokkaido, the northernmost island of the Japanese archipelago. This essay treats Bird’s travelogue as a visual object to analyze the role of photography and illustration in relation to the text. I argue that by adopting an art historical framework, we gain a unique perspective on Bird’s significant role in constructing the ubiquitous Ainu stereotype by reinforcing prescribed gender roles for Ainu men and women. This chapter examines how photography taken by male photographers living in Japan such as Baron Raimund von Stillfried (1839–1911) were translated into woodcut engravings and then printed in a travelogue written by a woman. This process raises questions regarding gender, medium, and the role of realism in a new transnational economy of Ainu images consumed by Victorian audiences.

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Website // Tracing Lines (WordPress)

CITATION

Spiker, Christina M. Tracing Lines. http://geneology.cmspiker.com.

DESCRIPTION

This website is a personal project of mine that documents my archival quest to learn about my ancestors. I have often been surprised at the overlap between genealogical research and the archival research that I do as a part of my scholarly work. I wanted the website to serve as a resource for my family in addition to serving as a thought experiment in linking academic scholarship on memory and photography with the real practice of creating a personal genealogy. I work on this site primarily during the summer and winter months when classes are not in session.

The website is built using WordPress with embedded widgets from WikiTree. Eventually, I would like to employ some mapping so that I can visually place my ancestors on a map.

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Translation // Takashina Erika’s “Sea of Hybridization: In Dispute over Urashima” from The Sea Beyond

CITATION

Takashina, Erika. Sea of Hybridization: In Dispute over Urashima” from The Sea BeyondHōsui, Seiki, Tenshin, and the West. Translated by Christina M. Spiker. Review of Japanese Culture and Society 26:1 (2014), 80-103.

ABSTRACT

The selection here has been excerpted from the third chapter of Takashina Erika’s bookThe Sea Beyond: Hōsui, Seiki, Tenshin, and the West (Ikai no umi: Hōsui, Seiki, Tenshin ni okeru seiyō, 2000). Her iconographic approach to the works of the influential Meijiperiod oil painter Yamamoto Hōsui (1850–1906) charts the oscillation between Japan and the West in one of the more tumultuous moments in modern history. The narrative of Japanese art influencing French and other European artists is well known, but less known is how an aspect of European art history unfolds through Yamamoto’s life. The study begins with the discovery of drawings he realized on the interior walls of his friend Judith Gautier’s summer home in Brittany, France. Taking this little known work and a group of watercolors that Yamamoto painted for a literary journal in France that were born out of a transcultural friendship as her starting point, Takashina locates and tracks the artist’s footprints during his Paris years, showing how he fashioned himself into a practitioner of the Western tradition while feeding an appetite for Japonisme among his European companions. In Chapters One and Two, the author sheds light on the works Yamamoto produced in France, many of which are discussed for the first time inThe Sea Beyond. Chapter Three assiduously combs through the ingredients of Yamamoto’s masterpiece, Urashima (1893–95), produced after his return to Japan, by placing the work in a subtle yet unceasing oscillation between Japan and Paris, the two places Yamamoto held dear to his heart. Among the signs inscribed onto the canvas is a series of double articulations that binds his native and adopted homes, the local debates that sought to advance an essentialist view of Japan and the travails of international politics. In Chapter Four, he sets sail to Okinawa, a site of Japanese coloniality; and in Chapter Five, the artist works on zodiac paintings that further mobilized the duality and hybridity of his shifting environment and tradition. The final chapter of the book examines how the painter Kuroda Seiki grappled with Okakura Tenshin’s legacy of [End Page 80] institutionalizing Nihonga (Japanese painting) in seeking to resuscitate Yōga (Western oil painting) in Japan.

Takashina draws out two forms of transnationalism in Yamamoto’s work and his encounters abroad: geopolitical struggles among nation-states and personal ties among artists. The iconographic layers ofUrashima bring to surface the relationship between Yamamoto and the West that almost reads like an encrypted message sent across the ocean to circumvent national divisions and warfare. In that duality–or duplicity, perhaps–the possibility of a genuine friendship is charted as one poetic force of the piece. The image is studded with Japanese motifs specific to the intellectual current of that particular period, yet the very compositional arrangement traces the thoughts and sights he encountered in Paris. These hybridizing moments in his art are less about the inevitable political course that modern Japan had to take than the cosmopolitan promise proposed by the foreign other. Beneath the factual events that bound the fate of multiple nations together in war and politics, suggests Takashina, an equally powerful art world was also forming to help make sense of modernity. And painting was an effective tool to articulate difference and posit a coherent imagination, not just for the Japanese but also for the French who, it seems, needed Yamamoto’s very presence to conceptualize their modern experience. Modern art, inThe Sea Beyond, is a record of intercessory nautical movements that constantly drew toward and pulled away from whatever “origin” modernity sought to identify, all the while positing, instead, intimacy and meaning in the processual global drift.

(Kenichi Yoshida)

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Dissertation // Ainu Fever: Indigenous Representation in a Transnational Visual Economy, 1868–1933

CITATION

Spiker, Christina. Ainu Fever: Indigenous Representation in a Transnational Visual Economy, 1868–1933. Dissertation. University of California, Irvine, 2015.

ABSTRACT

Romanticized as a lone Caucasoid race surrounded by Mongoloids, the Ainu―an indigenous people from the Hokkaido region of northern Japan―fascinated turn-of-the-century tourists, anthropologists and intellectuals. Suffering from the insatiable Wanderlust produced by rapid modernization, explorers traveled to Hokkaido in search of an “authentic” native experience outside of the Westernized Japanese treaty ports. British, American, and even Japanese travelers likened the unruly geography of the northern frontier to the Ainu body and personality. For some, these “hairy” indigenous people epitomized the exotic; for others, the ethnic ambiguity of the Ainu embodied a fantasy of aboriginal whiteness. Surveying the images represented in explorers’ reports, travel memoires, world’s fair press releases, and indigenous publications, this dissertation examines networks of visual imagery that formed a consistent stereotype of Ainu culture from the height of Euro-American and Japanese “Ainu fever” in the late nineteenth century to the indigenous collectivization of the Ainu circa 1930. This dissertation is organized around transnational personalities such as traveler Isabella Bird, novelist Edward Greey, artist Arnold Henry Savage Landor, anthropologist Frederick Starr, photographer Arnold Genthe, artist Kondō Kōichiro, illustrator Katahira Tomijirō, and writer Takekuma Tokusaburō. While explorers and tourists traveled to Hokkaido to find themselves in the north, the Ainu had to contend with becoming an absent center in their own visual discourse. In addition to addressing images produced by British, American, and Japanese travelers, this research also investigates indigenous voices, such as Katahira and Takekuma, in order to restore attention to the self-fashioning of the Ainu image in print culture. These case studies span diverse visual media and synthesize text and image to investigate the role of circulation in producing knowledge about the Ainu. This project argues that while the origin of Ainu stereotypes can be found in Japanese Ainu-e paintings or early Euro-American travelogues of Hokkaido, they became a mainstay of late nineteenth and early twentieth-century visual culture through the incessant reproduction of a small body of images across space and time.

Top photograh taken by the author at Lake Poroto in Shiraoi, bottom photograph taken by the author at the Nibutani Ainu Culture Museum.

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