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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Presentation // The Shôjo and the Indigenous Body: Representations of Ainu Woman in Japan’s Samurai Spirits, 1993-2008

CITATION

Spiker, Christina M. “The Shôjo and the Indigenous Body: Representations of Ainu Woman in Japan’s Samurai Spirits, 1993-2008,” paper delivered on the “The Shôjo Body as Indigenous, Ubiquitous, Balletic and Beautiful” panel at the 67th Annual Midwest Conference for Asian Affairs (MCAA), Metropolitan State University (October 19-20, 2018).

ABSTRACT

With the 2014 release of Never Alone (Kisima Inŋitchuŋa), a puzzle-platformer developed by Upper One Games in conjunction with the Alaskan Cook Inlet Tribal Council, academics and gamers alike have begun to examine the potential for video games to explore native culture as a form of both entertainment and interactive storytelling. In Japan, where its indigenous Ainu minority was recognized as recently as 2008, the relationship between the Japanese and Ainu population remains strained. This paper investigates the role of representation in creating an accessible version of indigenous culture repackaged for the Japanese mainstream. Focusing on Ainu sisters Nakoruru and Rimururu who are featured prominently in the fighting game Samurai Spirits (1993–2008), this paper examines battling indigenous shōjo heroines as virtual ambassadors of culture. While these two characters are marked as Ainu through their clothing and relationship with nature, their indigenous identity is often secondary to their portrayal the shōjo, or “young girl” archetype. In conversation with the work of Sharalyn Orbaugh, this paper questions how the archetype of the “busty battlin’ babe” translates when dealing with the bodies of Ainu women. I argue that Ainu-ness is represented as a form of narrative excess that the character can don as a costume and remove just as easily. By analyzing Nakoruru and Rimururu’s official representation in the franchise, in addition to fan interpretations as presented in self-published comics (dōjinshi) and the erasure of their Ainu backstory upon import to the United States, this paper negotiates various representations of indigenous Otherness against the backdrop of Japanese racism and indigenous activism in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

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Presentation // Vaguely Oriental: Engineering Asian Architecture in Fantasy MMORPGs

CITATION

Spiker, Christina M. “Vaguely Oriental: Engineering Asian Architecture in Fantasy MMORPGs,” paper delivered at the 48th Annual Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association (PCA/ACA) Conference, Indianapolis (March 28-31, 2018).

ABSTRACT

In his work Orientalism (1978), Edward Said describes the “Orient” as “the stage on which the whole East is confined.” He explains that, “The Orient then seems to be, not an unlimited extension beyond the familiar European world, but rather a closed field, a theatrical stage affixed to Europe.” The construction of Said’s metaphorical stage is likely familiar to any art historian looking at Neoclassical or Romantic painting. From Ingres to Delacroix, odalisques with unusually Romanesque noses are surrounded by the props, architecture, and costume of an Orientalist tableau made by and for nineteenth-century Europeans.

The application of Said’s Orientalism to the field of art history was and is a common move, but the application to video games is more uncommon. This paper pursues Said’s original line of thinking in another visual mode by focusing on the way that Orientalism manifests in massively multiplayer online role-playing games within the fantasy genre. When immersing one’s self in these games, the design of the world forms a “stage” for the player. Reading Said literally in this sense, I investigate the construction of these spaces with an experimental approach that combines art historical analysis with the recent study of race representation in game studies. While the latter tends to focus on the physical bodies and attributes of in-game characters and avatars, applying close visual analysis so central to the field of art history allows us to understand the way that ideology operates in the smallest—or in the case of architecture, the largest—of environmental details. The visual settings of MMORPGs challenge us by creating specific locales that are read by the player as “Asian” or “vaguely Oriental” within story narratives that harken back to fantasy worlds based in the Western tradition. I want to envision the stakes as well as the creative possibilities enabled by such design.

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Presentation // Chun-Li’s Qipao: Intersections of Gender, Race, and Fashion in Capcom’s Street Fighter II

CITATION

Spiker, Christina M. “Chun-Li’s Qipao: Intersections of Gender, Race, and Fashion in Capcom’s Street Fighter II,” paper delivered at the 47th Annual Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association (PCA/ACA) Conference, San Diego (April 12-15, 2017)

ABSTRACT

Coming Soon

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Course // Global Japan: Art, Anime, & Visual Culture (St. Catherine University)

COURSE INFORMATION

Global Japan: Art, Anime, & Visual Culture
ARTH 2994 | St. Catherine University

DESCRIPTION

This course considers the global trajectory of Japanese art and visual culture from 1945 to 2016. From sushi to karaoke to martial arts, Japanese goods have permeated US markets. This class seeks to understand this phenomenon in the realm of art and visual culture through the analysis of diverse material including advertising, animation, comics, film, graphic design, installation, mascot culture, painting, photography, popular music, and street fashion. Grounded in art historical and visual studies methods, with supplementary readings from anthropology and media studies, this class will investigate issues such as the overlap between comics and contemporary art; Japanese and American approaches to animation; and the influence of Japanese graphic design on product packaging. The course will proceed thematically to address issues of nationalism, race, gender, domesticity, consumer culture, subculture, environment, minority representation, and the post-human through lecture and discussion, individual and group work, and film and video screenings. Our goal will be to critically interpret the role of Japanese art and visual culture in an increasingly interconnected world.

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Presentation // Fighting Stereotypes: Reimagining Gender and Race in Street Fighter II (1991) and Samurai Shodown (1993)

CITATION

Spiker, Christina M. “Fighting Stereotypes: Reimagining Gender and Race in Street Fighter II (1991) and Samurai Shodown (1993),” paper delivered at the SGMS/Mechademia Conference on Asian Popular Culture, Minneapolis College of Art and Design (September 23-25, 2016).

ABSTRACT

Street Fighter. Mortal Kombat. Tekken. Dead or Alive. These game titles conjure iconic images of international fighting tourneys where characters test their strength in hand- to-hand combat; an alternate world history where button combinations and joystick movements solve global crises between heroes and villains. This paper examines two 1990s examples of the fighting game genre–Street Fighter II and Samurai Shodown–in an exploration of the multiple ways that the visual storytelling of fighting games challenges, complicates and constructs a parallel understanding of domestic and international relations. In my unique focus on popular female characters such as Street Fighter‘s Chun-Li, an expert martial artist and Chinese Interpol officer, and Samurai Shodown’s Nakoruru, an indigenous Ainu priestess of Nature from the Japanese island of Hokkaido, I demonstrate how these games reimagine issues of ethnic diversity, gender equality, and Cold War politics in 1990s visual culture against the background of Japanese racism and indigenous activism.

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Presentation // Recasting the Indigenous: Virtual Ainu Ambassadors in Japan’s Samurai Spirits, 1993-2008

CITATION

Spiker, Christina M. “Recasting the Indigenous: Virtual Ainu Ambassadors in Japan’s Samurai Spirits, 1993–2008,” paper delivered at the Console-ing Passions: International Conference on Television, Video, New Media, and Feminism, University of Notre Dame (June 16-18, 2016).

ABSTRACT

With the 2014 release of Never Alone (Kisima Inŋitchuŋa), a puzzle-platformer developed by Upper One Games in conjunction with the Alaskan Cook Inlet Tribal Council, academics and gamers alike examined the potential for video games to explore native culture as both entertainment and interactive storytelling. In Japan, where its indigeous Ainu minority was recognized as recently as 2008, the relationship between the Japanese and Ainu population remains strained. This paper investigates the role of gaming in creating an accessible version of indigenous culture repacked for the Japanese mainstream. Focusing on Ainu sisters Nakoruru and Rimururu, featured prominently in the fighting game Samurai Spirits (1993–2008), this paper examines these battling shōjo heroines as virtual ambassadors of culture. While these two characters are marked as Ainu through their clothing and relationship with nature, their indigenous identity often comes second to their portrayal the shōjo, or “young girl” archetype; what Sharalyn Orbaugh has called the role of “busty battlin’ babe.” Ainu-ness is thus represented as a form of narrative excess that the character can don as a costume and remove just as easily. By analyzing Nakoruru and Rimururu’s official representation in the francise in addition to fan interpretations as presented in self-published comics (dōjinshi), and the erasure of their Ainu backstory upon import to the United States, this paper negotiates various representations of indigenous Otherness against the backdrop of Japanese racism and indigenous activism in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

TAGS

Course // Visual Culture in Modern Japan (St. Olaf College)

COURSE INFORMATION

Visual Culture in Modern Japan
ART 276 | St. Olaf College

DESCRIPTION

Explore Japan through the mass production, distribution, and consumption of Japanese visual and popular culture. Students will learn how to analyze a diverse array of visual material—architecture, advertising, animation (anime), art, comics (manga), digital idols, film, graphic design, mascot culture, music, and video games. In discovering the popular construction of “Japaneseness,” the course will proceed thematically to address issues of nationalism, race, gender, domesticity, consumer culture, subculture, environment, and Japan’s relationship with its minorities from 1950 to 2015. Using methodologies from visual studies, media studies, art history, film studies, and anthropology, the goal of this course will be to rethink Japan as a site of local and global pop culture flows.

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Course // Godzilla to Hello Kitty: Japanese Popular Culture (UC Irvine)

COURSE INFORMATION

Buddhist Art & Architecture
FILM & MEDIA STUDIES 160 / ART HISTORY 150 | University of California, Irvine

DESCRIPTION

Explore Japan through the mass production, distribution, and consumption of Japanese popular culture. Students will learn how to analyze a diverse array of visual material-architecture, advertising, animation (anime), art, comics (manga), digital idols, film, graphic design, mascot culture, music, and video games. In discovering the popular construction of “Japaneseness,” the course will proceed thematically to address issues of nationalism, race, gender, domesticity, consumer culture, subculture, and Japan’s relationship with its minorities from 1950 to 2012. Using methodologies from media studies, film studies, art history, and anthropology, the goal will be to rethink Japan as a site of local and global pop culture flows from Godzilla to Hello Kitty.

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Teaching Assistant // Art History, Film & Media Studies, Asian American Studies (UC Irvine)

COURSE INFORMATION

Teaching Assistant
ART HISTORY / FILM & MEDIA STUDIES / ASIAN AMERICAN STUDIES | University of California, Irvine

DESCRIPTION

Lower Division Courses
Asian American Stories (Prof. Jim Lee), Asian American Studies, Fall 2014
Japanese Art (Prof.Bert Winther-Tamaki), Art History, Spring 2013, Spring 2011, Spring 2010
Chinese Art (Prof. Roberta Wue), Art History, Fall 2012, Winter 2012, Winter 2009
Chinese Painting & Ceramics (Prof. Juliann Wolfgram), Art History, Winter 2010
Sacred Arts of Asia (Prof. Juliann Wolfgram), Art History, Fall 2010
Arts of South Asia (Prof. Alka Patel), Art History, Fall 2009

Upper Division Courses
Asian American Documentary Practice
(Prof. Julie Cho), Film Studies/Asian American Studies, Winter 2013
European Art, 1907-1940 (Prof. Nicole Woods), Art History, Spring 2012
Classical Myth in Art (Prof. Shanna Kennedy-Quigley), Art History, Spring 2012
Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt (Prof. Shanna Kennedy-Quigley), Art History, Fall 2011

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