“Origin Stories” Podcast

This series aims to build transdisciplinary spaces in which to rethink educational practices in order to redress pervasive ideological and methodological biases in Japanese Studies. In this space scholars will discuss their personal background, intellectual formation, experiences in the field, and evolving perspective on Japanese Studies.

In this series, we explore the following questions: How can we employ a black feminist framework to unpack the historical forces contributing to the particular racial formations that have congealed within Japanese cultures since the late medieval period, and within postwar Japanese Studies in its deep debt to U.S. imperialism and white supremacy? How have legacies of racism and anti-blackness in the academy hindered scholars of color in their work in Japanese Studies? What new insights can be mined when marginalized members of academia gather to critically consider anti-racist curriculua and policies as they reimagine the humanities?

Meet our podcast guests.

Episode 1 | Hwaji Shin

Prof. Hwaji Shin Origin Stories

Episode Description

In this episode, we welcome Hwaji Shin, Associate Professor in the Sociology Department at the University of San Francisco. Professor Shin’s research focuses on political sociology, with particular emphases on race and ethnicity, social movements, and migration. This episode was recorded in the aftermath of the disturbing act of violence in Atlanta on Tuesday, March 16th, 2021 as we continue to witness ongoing abuse towards Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian American, and other communities of color. Prof. Shin is joined in conversation with JSAP contributors Sophie Hasuo, Rachel Willis, and Prof. Reginald Jackson. Our topics include: the March 2021 Atlanta spa shooting; Prof. Shin’s family background; anti-Korean discrimination; supportive and unsupportive teachers; traveling to South Korea as a Korean Japanese person; creating belonging; Bon Jovi; fetishization of Asian women; professional training; graduate school; surviving vs. thriving; Charles Tilly’s scholarship; anti-racist practice; racialization and racial formation; labeling, especially for Asian and Asian Americans; and Prof. Shin’s book project.

To hear more from Prof. Shin’s work please watch her JSAP webinar on “Decolonizing Race and Ethnicity: Understanding Racial Formation in Japanese Society” and her presentation at the Center for Japanese Studies, “Contentious Citizenship: Zainichi Korean Activism in Japan.”

This podcast is created with generous support from the University of Michigan’s Center for Japanese Studies.  Recording, editing, and transcription support came from Reginald Jackson, Justin Schell, Sophie Hasuo, Rachel Willis, Harrison Watson, Robin Griffin, and Allison Alexy. Please see the Japanese Studies and Antiracist Pedagogy homepage for more information.

Episode 2 | Vyjayanthi Selinger

Prof. Vyjayanthi Selinger Origin Stories

Episode Description

In this episode, the JSAP team talks with Prof. Vyjayanthi Selinger, whose research focuses on medieval Japanese literature and culture. Vyjayanthi Ratnam Selinger is the Stanley F. Druckenmiller Associate Professor of Asian Studies at Bowdoin College. Born and raised in India, she moved to the United States to pursue doctoral work in Japanese literature and culture. Her research examines literary representations of conflict in medieval Japan, using conflict as the key node to examine war memory, legal and ritual constraints on war, Buddhist mythmaking, and women in war. She is the author of the book Authorizing the Shogunate: Ritual and Material Culture in the Literary Construction of Warrior Order.  Prof. Selinger is joined in conversation with JSAP contributors Harrison Watson, Sophie Hasuo, and Prof. Reginald Jackson. Topics of discussion include: South Asian American identities; caste privilege; international faculty at US institutions; applying to graduate school; racist microaggressions; English; colonial and postcolonial understandings of the other; race in Japanese Studies; reparative orientations; forgetting first languages; second language learning; Wuthering Heights; antiracist work; Japanese American students; finding one’s voice in writing.

To learn more about Professor Selinger’s research, please watch her JSAP webinar, “Challenges and Opportunities in Anti-racist Pedagogy in Premodern Japanese Literature.” She is on twitter @jayselinge.

Episode 3 | Takashi Fujitani

Prof. Takashi Fujitani Origin Stories

Episode Description

Prof. Takashi Fujitani is the Dr. David Chu Professor and Director in Asia Pacific Studies at the University of Toronto. His research focuses on modern and contemporary Japanese history, East Asian history, Asian American history, and transnational history (primarily U.S./Japan and Asia Pacific). Much of his past and current research has centered on the intersections of nationalism, colonialism, war, memory, racism, ethnicity, and gender, as well as the disciplinary and area studies boundaries that have figured our ways of studying these issues. He is the author of Splendid Monarchy: Power and Pageantry in Modern Japan and Race for Empire: Koreans as Japanese and Japanese as Koreans in WWII; co-editor of Perilous Memories: The Asia Pacific War(s) and editor of the series Asia Pacific Modern. Prof. Fujitani is joined in conversation with JSAP contributors Harrison Watson, Sophie Hasuo, Rachel Willis, and Prof. Reginald Jackson. Topics of discussion include: the possibilities and politics of naming; growing up in Berkeley; segregation; ties between Black people and Asian / Asian American people; jazz; James Brown; W.E.B. DuBois; disidentifications with whiteness; Malcolm X and Yuri Kochiyama; solidarity politics; the model minority myth; race and racism in the Japanese empire; learning from professors of color; Asian American Studies; responses in Japanese Studies to discrimination about Buraku people and Korean-Japanese people; Clint Eastwood; Asia in the American political unconscious; Indigenous theory; palliative monarchy; the demise of Japanese Studies.

To learn more about Professor Fujitani’s research, please watch his JSAP webinar, “Challenges and Opportunities for a Historian of Japan Teaching about Race and Imperialism.” In this conversation, Prof. Fujitani mentions his article, Minshūshi As Critique of Orientalist Knowledges.”

Episode 4 | Leo Ching

Prof. Leo Ching Origin Stories

Episode Description

In this episode, we are joined by Prof. Leo Ching, Professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Duke University. Professor Ching’s work explores colonial discourse studies, postcolonial theory, Japanese mass culture, and theories of globalization and regionalism. He is the author of Becoming “Japanese”: Colonial Taiwan and the Politics of Identity Formation and Anti-Japan: The Politics of Sentiment in Postcolonial East Asia, which is also available as a digital open access version. Prof. Ching is joined in conversation with JSAP contributors Sophie Hasuo, Rachel Willis, and Prof. Reginald Jackson. Topics of discussion include: identifications; defining home; Prof. Ching’s family history; baseball in Taiwan and Japan; the Redress / Reparation movement in the US; geology; graduate school; Masao Miyoshi; California; being stopped by police in Japan; race in the US South; the category of “Asian American”; so-called “standard” Japanese vs. Kansai-ben; antiblackness and antiracism; anti-Asian violence; settler colonialism; Ainu people; “coloniality as the underside of modernity”; Palestine; and Archipelago East Asia.

To learn more about Professor Ching’s research, please watch his JSAP webinar, “Contrapuntal Imaginations: Reading Empires in an Undergraduate Japanese Studies Class.”

Episode 5 | Andrea Mendoza

Prof. Andrea Mendoza Origin Stories

Episode Description

In this episode, we are joined by Prof. Andrea Mendoza, Assistant Professor of Japanese and Comparative Literature at the University of California, San Diego. Professor Mendoza’s work combines the studies of 20th and 21st century East Asian and Latin American literatures and visual cultures; transpacific studies; feminist and gender studies; critical race studies; and intellectual history. Her current projects focus on developing an intersectional and transpacific approach to comparing philosophical, literary, and cinematic discourses on race and racism in Mexico and Japan and their role in constituting ideas about national identity in the twentieth century. Prof. Mendoza is joined in conversation with JSAP contributors Sophie Hasuo, Rachel Willis, Harrison Watson, and Prof. Reginald Jackson. Topics of discussion include: identifications and positionality; growing up in Mexico and New Jersey as a racialized migrant; attending primarily white schools; Orientalism; Black feminist theory and scholarship; The Bridge Called My Back; Sara Ahmed; micro- and macro-aggressions in the academy; Othering in Japanese Studies; Abe Sada; Prof. Mendoza’s article “Nonencounter as Relation;” transpacific studies; antiracist practice and pedagogy; undisciplinary shifts; astrology. 

To learn more about Professor Mendoza’s research, please watch her JSAP webinar, Confronting the “Ends” of Area: On Transpacific Accountability” or read her article “Nonencounter as Relation: Cannibals and Poison Women in the Consumption of Difference” in Verge: Studies in Global Asias. She is on twitter @andbrea_m.