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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Webinar // Irankarapte: An Introduction to Ainu Culture in Japan

CITATION

Spiker, Christina M. “Irankarapte: An Introduction to Ainu Culture in Japan,” webinar delivered at the Japan America Society of Minnesota (September 3, 2020).

ABSTRACT

“Irankarapte” is an Ainu greeting. While often translated as “hello,” it means “allow me to touch your heart.” The Ainu are an indigenous people of Japan with their own language, religion, and cultural identity. Together with Dr. Christina Spiker, explore the development of Ainu culture and history through art, language, and material artifacts. This webinar will examine both historical and contemporary aspects of Ainu culture, including the surprising ways that Ainu and American history intersect in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. We will also explore the recent 2020 opening of the new national museum dedicated to the Ainu in Shiraoi, Hokkaido, and Ainu representation in popular media.

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Course // Arts of Korea (St. Olaf College)

COURSE INFORMATION

Arts of Korea
ASIAN STUDIES 200 | St. Olaf College

DESCRIPTION

This course is an introduction to the history of art on the Korean peninsula. Beginning in the neolithic era, it offers a survey of significant artistic developments through the Three Kingdoms, Koryo, and Choson periods, in addition to works from the twentieth and twenty-first century. Students will explore a range of media, including ceramic vessels, sculptures, paintings, textiles, and works of architecture. Key artifacts and artistic traditions are discussed chronologically with their political, religious, and historical contexts. Within each period, foreign influences and indigenous Korean traditions are explored in order to gain a greater understanding of native characteristics and aesthetic concerns. Korea will be framed in context with its East Asian neighbors to showcase its crucial role in the transmission of art and aesthetics across space and time.

Image Credit: Unknown, Jar with Dragon and Clouds, 17th century. White porcelain with iron-brown underglaze. Minneapolis Institute of Art.

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Course // History of Photography (St. Olaf College)

COURSE INFORMATION

History of Photography
ART 256 | St. Olaf College

DESCRIPTION

Explore the history of photography as an artistic medium, a cultural expression, a technological marvel, and a social text. During our class we will travel around the globe, analyzing photographs from Europe and the United States, in addition to examples from China, India, Peru, Mexico, Germany, France, Great Britain, South Africa, and Japan. In addition to exploring photography as an artistic medium, we will look at the cultural discourse of photography, and engage in discussions on ethics, nationalism, gender, race, mass culture, and memory. Accordingly, the course includes readings from disciplines as diverse as art history, visual studies, visual anthropology, and sociology. Covering over a century of photographic practice, students will gain the ability to deeply understand and analyze the shifting medium of photography and its sociocultural contexts.

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Course // Arts of Japan (St. Olaf College)

COURSE INFORMATION

Arts of Japan
ART/ASIAN STUDIES 260 | St. Olaf College

DESCRIPTION

Survey the arts of the Japanese archipelago from the Neolithic period to the present day. This course investigates diverse works such as funerary remains, Shintō architecture, Buddhist sculpture, castle architecture, woodblock prints, hanging and hand scrolls, gardens, tea ceremony, oil and ink painting, performance, photography, and fashion design. We will use visual analysis to discuss themes such as patronage, religious expression, social organization, traditional technologies, indigenous and imported techniques, urban design, and the political functions of art. This course will emphasize various connections between Japan and other cultures through the 21st century that have helped shape Japan’s dynamic aesthetic traditions.

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Website // Minority Visual Representation in Asia: St. Olaf College Independent Research 2020 (WordPress)

CITATION

Spiker, Christina, Adele Gordon, and Julianne Stewart. Minority Visual Representation in Asia: St. Olaf College Independent Research 2020. WordPress. 2020.

DESCRIPTION

Our interdisciplinary collaboration with one another in Spring 2020 was born out of a shared interest in learning about how minority groups within Asia were represented in visual culture. Prof. Spiker had research experience in dealing with representations of Ainu visual culture in the 19th and 20th centuries in Japan, while Julianne Stewart ’20 and Adele S. Gordon ’20 had an interest in learning about Taiwan and China.

One recurring question for us was this: “what is the difference between representations of a group by the dominant culture and being represented by one’s own community.” This vacillation between representations “of” and “by” became a touchstone for us as we navigated the complex visual economy of minority visual representation in Asia.

Our collaboration included (1) developing a shared reading list on this subject, (2) meeting weekly to discuss said readings, and (3) each collaborator developing an independent digital humanities project using StoryMapJS by the knight lab at Northwestern University. This was the students first experience using this particular program.

Presentation // Golden Kamuy and the Discourse of Ethnic Harmony: Defining a Multi-Ethnic Japan in Anime and Manga

CITATION

Spiker, Christina M. “Golden Kamuy and the Discourse of Ethnic Harmony: Defining a Multi-Ethnic Japan in Anime and Manga,” paper planned to be delivered at the 50th Annual Popular Culture Association Conference, Philadelphia (April 15-18, 2020). [CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19]

ABSTRACT

The question of Japan’s status as a multi-ethnic nation has been intensively debated by scholars such as Tessa Morris-Suzuki since the 1990s. The development of a new national museum in Hokkaido dedicated to the indigenous Ainu minority called The Symbolic Space for Ethnic Harmony (民族共生象徴空間, or Upopoy in the Ainu language) has renewed many of these debates on the eve of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. While many scholars, such as Morris-Suzuki, have discussed the concerns with this new contemporary site and the line between celebration and exploitation of indigenous culture, these perspectives have not adequately addressed the role of popular visual culture in spreading an ideology of ethnic harmony in relation to Japan’s indigenous minorities. My paper addresses this issue in a case study of the popular visual cultural representation of the Ainu in the historical manga and anime Golden Kamuy (manga 2014-; anime 2018-) by Noda Satoru. I argue that the way that this show introduces Ainu culture to a non-Ainu majority is in line with many of the issues we see playing out in the political sphere regarding the tension between Ainu recognition by the Japanese government and the government’s unwillingness to take responsibility for past colonial aggressions. In conclusion, by examining Golden Kamuy we can begin to acknowledge the role of visual culture in informing a widespread understanding of indigeneity as we approach the Tokyo Olympics and the torch relay race that will go through this new ethnic museum and park in Hokkaido, Japan.

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Presentation // Optical Consistency in Ainu Photography: Tracing Networks of Transnational Reproduction

CITATION

Spiker, Christina M. “Optical Consistency in Ainu Photography: Tracing Networks of Transnational Reproduction,” paper planned to be delivered on the “Imaginaries in Motion: Early Transnational Photography in and beyond Asia” panel at the Association of Asian Studies, Boston (March 19-22, 2020) [CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19]

ABSTRACT

As Meiji Japan transformed the island of Hokkaido in service of modernization, the indigenous Ainu contended with the invasive colonization of their land and sudden, intense interest in their culture from both Japanese and international travelers. This paper examines this nineteenth-century fascination as captured in early Ainu photography. I investigate the links between original tourist and ethnographic albumen prints, their reproduction as souvenirs and postcards, and their eventual translation into the medium of woodcut engraving. Rather than focusing on improvements in photographic technology, this paper draws upon a framework outlined by Bruno Latour to examine the mobilization of photographs to create a conceptual and optical consistency through an integration of both word and image. I argue that the understanding of the Ainu in both the Western and Japanese imagination often had little to do with capturing the reality of their lives, although this was often the claim. Instead, popular understanding depended on the visual calcification of the Ainu image into a cohesive notion of indigenous identity constructed solely from the outside. The resulting stereotypes were flat and one-dimensional. They found representation in a wide variety of media including Japanese tourist postcards, American newspapers, and photographs from the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition and the 1911 Japan-British Exhibition based on earlier visual models. By tracing the afterlives of several key images, I discuss how optical consistency was achieved over time and how it affected the Ainu community who found themselves at the center.

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Course // Asia in America (St. Olaf College)

COURSE INFORMATION

Asia in America
ASIAN STUDIES 123 | St. Olaf COllege

DESCRIPTION

This interdisciplinary course introduces the field of Asian American Studies. We will engage with multiple cultural and historical productions of Asia and America, with a specific focus on popular visual culture, art, literature, and film. Critical analysis of topics such as ethnic/cultural identities, citizenship(s), media/pop-cultures, body images, sexuality, and adoption will be explored through the practices of different Asian communities in the United States. Students can expect to encounter interactive in-class activities, films, presentations, and field trips. Also counts toward Chinese, Japanese, and Race and Ethnic Studies majors and the Race and Ethnic Studies and International Relations concentrations.

Photo: Noguchi Museum. They explain, “Sculptor Isamu Noguchi tried many times to build a playground in New York City, but one never came to fruition. One of his ideas, called Contoured Playground, is shown here as a plaster model.”

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