Over the next two weeks, the Center for Asian Studies is holding a "Japan in Transcultural Asia" series, featuring two in-depth talks that focus on different features of how Japan has and does engage with its regional neighbors. These events are brought to CU with generous funding from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Tinkering with Difference: The Ethical Labor of Aid in a Japanese NGO
Friday, January 22, 4:00 p.m., Hale 230
In this talk, Dr. Chika Watanabe, Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester, will examine practices and relations of imitation as a key way that aid workers imagined “making persons” (hitozukuri) who could bring about a sustainable future. Many Japanese aid workers and officials talk about the role of Japan as a model of development for other countries. In the Organization for Industrial, Spiritual and Cultural Advancement (OISCA), one of the oldest NGOs in Japan, staff members stressed the importance of sossen suihan or “leading by example” to transmit “Japanese values” to people in developing countries. In conducting trainings in organic farming as an aspect of sustainable development, they worked with the trainees in the fields, covered in mud, and becoming physical models that trainees could emulate. But imitations in practice can never be exact copies of the original. She argues that Japanese and Burmese actors understood “development” as the ethical labor of tinkering with the slight differences that appeared in practices of imitation to make copies that were almost like the models, but not quite. Sponsored by the Center for Asian Studies and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Center to Advance Research and Teaching in the Social Sciences (CARTSS), the Department of Anthropology, and International Affairs.
Children Divided: War Orphans in the Japanese Empire
Monday, January 25, 5:00 p.m., Economics 205
Professor Mariko Asano Tamanoi, Department of Anthropology, University of California Los Angeles will explore how children displaced by war in both Japan and China came to inspire a transcultural legal discourse on the rights of minors. In the aftermath of World War II, children, especially orphans, were at once divided, protected, and oppressed by different political forces--the Japanese state, the Nationalists and the Communists in China, and the U.S. Occupation Forces. The messy realities surrounding both Japanese and Chinese children were in part created by the idea of the "rights of the child" but also by other novel constructions of the time: "the nation's children," "the empire's children," and "social work" (shakai jigyō). These ideas coexisted with both older visions of "philanthropy" and a new concept of humanitarian aid. How did notions of the universal child (as it was expressed in the phrase "children of the world") take shape in East Asia? In what ways did these notions interact with imperial, national, and social forces? Finally, what distinguishes colonial intervention from humanitarian aids? Sponsored by the Center for Asian Studies and the Department of History.