I couldn’t be more thrilled to take part in the 2019 Mechademia, which has the theme of Queer(ing) this year. My paper will take some of the previous work I’ve done on the Ainu video game character Nakoruru from Samurai Shodown to explore ideas of fetish with the indigenous body in doujinshi. I’m still refining the paper, but excited to see how it turns out. Our panel was convened by Frenchy Lunning and it is cross-disciplinary bringing together scholars from art history and literature from both Macalester and St. Olaf College. If you are in the Twin Cities, it is a conference well worth participating in. The atmosphere is incredibly constructive and curious. And there is a fashion show. Yes.
Here is the information on our panel:
September 28th, Session IV, 4:30-6pm
Panel 10: room 450
Queered Through the Foreign, Fictional, and Fetishized Body
Frenchy Lunning, convener and discussant
Queer Desire for the Black Body in Ôe Kenzaburô’s “Prizestock”
Arthur Mitchell, Macalester College
The “Nakoruru Problem”: The Malleable Ainu Image in Samurai Shodown, 1993-2019
Christina Spiker, St. Olaf College
Virility, the “Coolie,” and Control in Manchukuo: The Ambivalence of Chinese Masculinity in Japanese Photography, 1931-1940
Kari Shepherdson-Scott, Macalester College
“The Multiplicity of Queer Desire in Matsuura Rieko’s The Apprenticeship of Big Toe P”
Joanne Quimby, St. Olaf College
Come join the festivities in Minneapolis from 9/27-9/29!
I couldn’t be more excited to be delivering a public lecture at Macalester College on September 19th. If you are interested in blending Art History, Asian Studies, and Indigenous Studies, I encourage you to come. My talk is titled “Indigenous Modernity in Hokkaido, Japan: the Complexities of Ainu Representation in Photography and Illustration” and is sponsored by the departments of Art and Art History, Asian Studies, and the Office of Academic Programs. The talk arises out of research completed for my dissertation and figures who I continue to grapple with. In addition to exploring the dominant images that forged the Ainu stereotype in the Euro-American imagination, I will be examining how Ainu producers of image and text—such as Takekuma Tokusaburō and Katahira Tomijirō—engaged with these dominant representations. I feel that understanding the gradual development of optical consistency from photographs to the illustrations based on them can better illuminate the calcification of Ainu stereotypes at home and abroad, as well as expand our understanding of photography as a visual medium in Meiji and Taishō Japan.
For those interested:
Title: “Indigenous Modernity in Hokkaido, Japan: the Complexities of Ainu Representation in Photography and Illustration”
Location: JBD Lecture Hall, Campus Center, Macalester College
Time: 6-7:30pm (talk followed by Q&A)
This paper is a bit of a “break” from my recent research on visual and material culture in the late Meiji period. I will be chairing a panel at Console-ing Passions (International Conference on Television, Video, Audio, New Media and Feminism) on Japanese visual culture, with papers presented by Colleen Laird from Bates College (“Screened and Not Heard: The Transnational Treasure Text of Kikuchi Rinko”), and Sho Ogawa of the University of Kansas (“Internalizing Hybridity: Japan’s Gay Boom and Reconfiguring National Identity”). Our diverse panel will explore the convergence between media and gender studies in and out Japan.
Nakoruru’s stage background in the original Samurai Spirits (1993). Nothing like an Ainu man and woman surrounded by forest friends…
The paper I’m presenting is titled “Recasting the Indigenous: Virtual Ainu Ambassadors in Japan’s Samurai Spirits, 1993-2008.” This project has been on the back burner for a little while, but it is fun to get back into contemporary visual culture for a bit. I will be discussing the role of two female Ainu video game characters–Nakoruru and Rimaruru–from the video game Samurai Spirits (Samurai Shodown in the US). As the title hints, I have been trying to think through the role of these characters as cultural ambassadors in 1990s Japan. The topic feels timely with the impending creation of the new Ainu museum in Shiraoi in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where the marketing of Ainu culture will undoubtedly be important for Hokkaido tourism. In addition to investigating their domestic popularity, I’m also looking at the localization of these characters in the US. This is inspired by a class that I just finished teaching, Visual Culture in Modern Japan, where issues of localization kept creeping into our discussions. I’ve been thinking long and hard about the transformation of Ainu/indigenous visual signifiers when transported abroad to a culture with no framework to understand them.