Christina M. Spiker

Christina M. Spiker

Art Historian | Professor | Digital Humanist

Sustainability Weeks?

sw06_1Hokkaido University is just wrapping up Sustainability Weeks (サステナビリティ・ウィーク), which sponsors events and lectures over the course of several months dedicated to the theme of “sustainability” in society and in the academy. The official description from the website reads:

Sustainability Weeks (SW) is a campaign hosted by Hokkaido University with the aim of promoting research and education to help create a sustainable society. The assembly of more than 6,000 researchers, educators, students, and citizens from home and abroad during the two weeks of SW to share and discuss the latest scientific knowledge in the form of symposium, workshop and various exhibitions will enable us to identify the next steps toward a better future.

Even though the term is most often heard in environmental or economic discourse, the events during Sustainability Week are separated (and cross-listed) between four categories: Learning for the Future, Quality of Life, Harmony with Nature, and then a yearly theme (this year’s theme is “Education for Sustainable Development”). These headings seem to invite a kind of feel-good gathering around the campfire, but I actually think that there is something really important to discussing sustainability within the University and Humanities, especially in light of practices that cannot keep pace with changes in the nature of the university and academic publishing

Sustainability Week 2013But the quest for a sustainability is also of concern to indigenous communities across the globe. Last year, I attended Hokkaido University’s Sustainability Week symposium titled “Indigenous Heritage and Tourism: Succession and Creation of Living Heritage” (先住民文化遺産とツーリズム: 生きている遺産の継承と創造). Across three days at Hokkaido University and The Historical Museum of the Saru River in the town of Biratori, scholars, artists, and activists from Hokkaido and abroad dialogued about how to preserve indigenous heritage, and the the transference of knowledge about Ainu language and art to a younger generation moving into the future.

This year’s theme, “Indigenous Heritage and Tourism: Constructing Cultural Landscape and Indigenous Heritage Issues” (先住民文化遺産とツーリズム ―文化的景観と先住民遺産をめぐる諸問題―), continues this conversation by examining the various uses of landscape in indigenous communities as both managed resource and cultural inheritance. The activities on December 20th center around the theme of “Cultural Landscapes Created by Rock & Water”, while December 21st is dedicated to “Cultural Landscapes Created by Sea and Lake.” If last year’s event was any indication, this year will a vibrant dialogue, so check it out if you are in the Sapporo area.

December 20, 2014, 1 – 3pm (doors open at 12:30pm)
December 21, 2014, 10am – 4pm (doors open at 9:30am)

Hokkaido University Conference Hall [学術交流会館 小講堂] (Open to General Public)

Japanese/English (consecutive interpretation)

Sponsored By:
Hokkaido University Center for Ainu and Indigenous Studies
Center for Advanced Tourism Studies, Hokkaido University
WAC-Japan (Bid Committee for 8th World Archaeological Congress in Kyoto)

Lecture on Edo-period manuscript, Ezo seikei zusetsu

Per usual, it seems like every talk and presentation is happening on the same weekend! Because of the upcoming trip to Tokyo for ASCJ, I will have to miss this presentation by a brilliant visiting researcher here at Hokkaido University, Vasily Shchepkin [ワシーリー・シェプキン] (St. Petersburg Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, Russian Academy of Sciences). If you have an interest in Ainu-e and happen to be in the area, I think this will be an interesting talk. I’m sad to have to miss it, especially as I have been looking at the work Ezo seikei zusetsu lately, in an entirely different context.  The talk will be in Japanese, but here are some of the details for those interested. Admission is free and no reservation is required to attend.

Vasily Shchepkin
(Saint Petersburg Institute of Oriental Manuscripts, Russian Academy of Sciences)

June 20th, 2014 (Friday), 6:30-8:00pm (doors open at 6:00pm)

Humanities and Social Sciences Classroom Building [北海道大学人文・社会科学総合教育研究棟] (W Bldg), 2nd Floor, Room 202
Address: Sapporo-shi, Kita-ku, Kita 10, Nishi 7 chome, on the grounds of Hokkaido University

Sponsored By:
Hokkaido University Center for Ainu and Indigenous Studies

Content: When looking beyond the content of old manuscripts, the ownership mark [蔵書印], label [付箋], and calligraphic style [書体] tell us an additional story. There are two Japanese volumes titled Higashi ezochi ikou [東蝦夷彙考] at the Saint Petersburg Institute of Oriental Manuscripts. The contents of these works are filled with an abundance of Ainu-e similar to that of Ezochi seikei zusetsu [蝦夷生計図説] (1823). When comparing this Higashi ezochi ikou with other manuscripts of Ezochi seikei zusetsu, what can be learned from the analysis of the ownership mark and label?

Japanese announcement: click here

Already Winter

AdobeRevel_SharedImage_339078e25fef4d9ca38d384e07d161acAs obvious by my silence, my sincere intent to update my blog semi-regularly has definitely been met with complete and utter failure! It is already winter here in Hokkaido, and when looking back at my photos from fall, it makes me wonder what is hiding under all of this snow! Research has been plodding along, and I am looking forward to the extended holiday to really crank out some writing without having classes to attend.

For those that are interested and living in the Sapporo area, there is a really interesting event happening this Sunday (January 26th, 2014) at Hokkaido University that is open to the public. It is titled “Promotion and Communication of Ainu Arts and Culture: Learning from the Native American Art Shows in the U.S. Southwest” (アイヌ・アートが担う新たな役割―米国先住民アートショーに学ぶ). If you have an interest, it begins at 1pm (doors open at 12:30pm). There will also be Japanese/English translation.

Greetings from Hokkaido, Japan

Leaves are just starting to change on the Hokkaido University campus.

Leaves are just starting to change on the Hokkaido University campus.

This post is long overdue, but greetings from Hokkaido, Japan!  I was barely back in California for two weeks after researching at the Smithsonian before I re-packed my bags for a year of research abroad. I am very fortunate to be the recipient of a University of California Pacific Rim Research Program Advanced Graduate Fellowship for my dissertation research in Hokkaido, Japan. I am studying at Hokkaido University until September 2014, and today marks my second full week of classes. Aside from my research here, I do have quite the course-load. In addition to my Japanese coursework, I am auditing two undergraduate classes (Ainu Language and The State of Ainu/Indigenous Studies) and I am partaking in one graduate seminar in the Japanese History department in the Graduate School of Letters. (I am presenting my dissertation research in Japanese on the 3rd of December — I have a lot to prepare!) It has taken me a little while to set myself up, but I am loving Hokkaido. I visited here to do some preliminary research in 2011, and and I must say that Sapporo is one of my most favorite cities. I might change my tune come the winter (and temperatures are already starting to drop here — very different from a “California” autumn), but the people and scenery have been wonderful. As I continue to get settled, I will start doing research in the archives here on campus in addition to using the library and local resources. Looking through their Northern Studies Collection, it quickly became apparent that this is by far the best place to carry out this research. All the books I have been struggling to secure through ILL are within an arm’s reach.

A dramatic photograph of the Hokkaido University Museum (北大総合博物館)

A dramatic photograph of the Hokkaido University Museum (北大総合博物館)

Being here as a research student (in comparison to an undergraduate study abroad student) has also been enlightening in different ways. I meet many other international students here through my language courses. There are a fair number of Master’s and Ph.D. students here doing language work from various disciplines, 6-month and 12-month research students, and 12-month study abroad students creating a fairly diverse community. Although I have been back to Japan every other year since my own undergraduate study abroad, moving here is quite different from short research trips. I am not going through the “honeymoon” that many students experience upon arrival, but it is exciting to see so many glowing faces. (After all, I vividly remember my first trips to the conbini, hyakkin, and karaoke!)  I’m learning to balance new experiences and new friends with my fairly strenuous work flow.

Speaking of which, back to the dissertation. But I will try to post some upcoming events that are happening here at Hokudai in the near future, including several happening this weekend.

Hello Washington D.C.

Today is quite momentous! After teaching my last class of Godzilla to Hello Kitty: Japanese Pop Culture, I boarded a red-eye flight bound for Washington D.C… A lengthy bus ride and a few Metro stops later, I am sitting in a little Panera-esque coffee shop waiting for my appointment at the Smithsonian Institution’s Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology. I begin my one-month term as a Baird Society Resident Scholar at 11am. I have the entire month of August to work with a host of early explorer texts, natural history texts, and the World’s Fair Collection. Traveling is always a test of patience, but I cannot think of a cooler way to spend a month!

This academic year is shaping up to be incredibly productive, as I recently was accepted as a research student at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan. So many exciting things in the works for 2013-2014! More details forthcoming about the Japan leg of my journey.