Published: May 22, 2023

The Center for Asian Studies helped to support two events proposed by faculty in the second half of February, 2023. Below are the event reports provided to us:

“Words That Got Around”: Professor Joshua Frydman of the University of Oklahoma Visits CU
Marjorie Burge, Asian Languages and Civilizations

Professor Joshua Frydman of the University of Oklahoma visited campus on Monday, February 20 to deliver a talk titled “Words That Got Around: Early Japanese Literary Transmission in Comparative Context.” This talk was meant to coincide with the publication of Dr. Frydman’s book, Inscribed Objects and the Development of Literature in Early Japan (Brill, 2023). Approximately 20 people attended the event which took place in the Eaton Humanities building, Room 135, from 5:00 to 6:30pm. Attendees included a large number of faculty and graduate students from the Department of Asian Languages & Civilizations and the Department of History.

In his talk, Professor Frydman proposed a new way of thinking about early Japanese texts that prioritizes their visuality, arguing for the need to separate out questions of vocalization. In making his case, Professor Frydman drew on frameworks developed for the understanding of language in early South Asian contexts. Professor Frydman focused on two important examples of early Japanese mokkan [wooden slips with ink writing] for his discussion, arguing for the obvious visual distinction between phonograph-based transcription of Old Japanese and writing in Literary Sinitic, and for understanding a scribe’s opting to use one or the other as a choice that was always context-dependent.

While in Boulder, Professor Frydman also attended a session of Professor Marjorie Burge’s graduate seminar on Classical Japanese texts (JPNS 5280), where he led a discussion of mokkan and how they contribute to our understanding of Early Japanese literary production. The session also included a crash course on mokkan research methods.

"Disclosing Food Allergies in Japan: Reading the Air, Imagination, and Trouble"
Kathryn Goldfarb, Anthropology

Dr. Cook zoomed in for two colloquium talks, first for my Anth 1110: Anthropology of Japan class on Feb 27, and then for a colloquium at Metropolitan State University of Denver on Feb 28. Both events generated a lot of enthusiastic engagement and questions from the attendees. These talks emerged from Dr. Cook’s current research project, a comparative study on experiences of food allergies in Japan and the UK. Interestingly, while shared food tends to be a central aspect of human sociability, social scientists haven’t much taken up the topic of food allergies as an object of study. Intersecting with anthropological approaches to disability, affect, cultural conceptions of health and illness, embodiment, and the ways these play out in institutional contexts in Japan, this project compellingly explores how food allergies constitute a form of invisible difference with destabilizing social effects in Japan.

The abstracts for both talks follow:

“Disclosing Food Allergies in Japan: Reading the Air, Imagination, and Trouble”

In this talk I explore how young adults with food allergies in Japan “read the air” and try to avoid creating trouble for others and themselves in their practices of allergy disclosure. I trace how their experiences of reading the air and their engagement with feelings of trouble (meiwaku) emerge out of - and become - an imaginative practice that is embodied, intersubjective, and built on feelings of how people might respond to their disclosures, as well as the social risks that they feel food allergies present.

ALSO at Metropolitan State University of Denver (Feb. 28, 2023)

“Uncertainty and Risk: Food Allergies at Work in Japan”

Food and work are often inextricably linked in Japan. Expectations to join post-work drinking parties and/or to eat together during the day are often a reality for people at work (albeit currently mitigated by Covid-19). However, for those with multiple food allergies, such expectations can be difficult to navigate, especially when the negotiation occurs between individuals of different ages and positions. Drawing on fieldwork with young adults since 2017 this paper explores how young adults with food allergies experience workplace expectations to eat and drink together, and the different strategies they use to disclose their allergies and negotiate eating with others as they mature. Individuals with multiple food allergies often come to imagine their futures – at work and beyond – through the prism of their food constraints and work relationships in ways they hadn’t imagined when they were students. This paper examines the important, but often overlooked, influence of food on workplace relationships and how it contributes to shaping imagined futures.

Both of these events were supported through funding by the U.S. Department of Education.