P9. Beyond Headlines and Crises: Topics in Contemporary East Asia

Session: Session 2, 1:45-3:15 pm, Friday 9/29

Category: Individual Papers

Location: Excellence

Chair: James Coburn (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)

Paper Presenters: Nobuko Adachi, Reagan Gerry, David Kwok Kwan Tsoi


Social Aftershocks and Shifting Cultural Values Following the Fukushima, Japan, Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Disaster: A Thousand-year-old Samurai Ceremony Becomes a Tourist Horse Festival

Speaker: Nobuko Adachi
Role: Paper Presenter
Institution/Affiliation: Illinois State University
Abstract: On March 11, 2011, Fukushima experienced a tsunami, earthquake, and nuclear plant meltdown. While many studies have investigated the environmental and biological impact, the social and cultural effects have received less attention. I examine how a thousand-year-old samurai ceremony has been altered by the 3.11 disaster. Soma City has held its traditional Nomaoi cavalry ceremony for a millennium, and even four months after 3.11, they held a much-abbreviated ceremony in an effort to encourage both individual riders and the community to come together. Many of these participants lost relatives, homes, possessions, and horses. But today, in an effort to curtail former residents and young people from leaving the area due to supposed radiation contamination, the town leadership has rebranded this event as a nation-wide and international tourist attraction. Such initiatives often conflict with local residents, who feel they are suffering from a “secondary disaster” whereby they are losing their cultural heritage, and history in the face of rising capitalist forces—which the town leadership feel is necessary for rebuilding and reconstruction. I ethnographically examine the after-effects of this natural disaster and the human responses to it. I argue that while tourism is being used by some in Soma to bring national attention and notoriety to an area that still suffers from secondary aftereffects of the primary disaster, the tremendously strong tropes of tradition more often resonate with most people to foster the solidarity they had before 3.11.

Changing Perceptions in Japanese Society: Gun Control in Japan

Speaker: Reagan Gerry
Role: Paper Presenter
Institution/Affiliation: Drake University
Abstract: Shock, anger, disbelief, the death of Former Prime Minister came as a shock to the world, none more surprised than Japan itself. Constrictive gun control and low violence rates have become part of the cultural identity in Japan. Often hailed in comparison to other countries for its strict gun control, the recent assassination of former Prime Minister Ashido Abe has sponsored renewed interest in Japanese gun control laws both in Japan and abroad. Some have hailed his death as proof of Japan’s success in policy, others cite it as proof of law ineffectiveness. This begs the question, how is gun control viewed in the Japanese social climate? Japanese society’s stance on gun control is in harmony with modern-day gun control laws, yet is there a historical precedent for this? In this paper, I argue that a history of strict gun control laws have resulted in Japanese society’s perception of guns.

Colonized Subjects in Multiple Hegemonies: The Case of Hong Kongers in the Aftermath of 2019-20 Anti-ELAB Social Movement

Speaker: David Kwok Kwan Tsoi
Role: Paper Presenter
Institution/Affiliation: Department of Anthropology, UIUC
Abstract: As the Chinese government has subjected Hong Kong to new and intense forms of political oppression and ideological mandate of nationalism—what Lee and Poon (2021) describe as “neo-colonialism,” what kinds of collectively mediated, bottom-up response have taken shape? In this paper, I argue for the significance of an emergent cultural imaginary of Hong Kong as a transnational space, inhabited by political subjects who strategically align with British coloniality. I examine the emigration patterns following the implementation of the National Security Law in June 2020, which is the state’s heavy-handed response to the tumultuous Anti-Extradition Bill Movement in 2019 and early 2020. Against the political instability, the mass out-migration of skilled labor, including relatively young, educated middle-class, and their children, to the former colonizer, the UK and other anglophone commonwealth countries poses a threat of brain drain to Hong Kong; more importantly, these migratory routes are built upon, reinstate, and possibly reshape former colonial relationships. My analysis draws on ethnographic research from 2021 to 2023 in Hong Kong, as well as textual and interactional data. By locating multiple co-existing post-Cold War colonial and imperial structures (Chen 2010) in Hong Kong, I propose the concept of “strategic coloniality” to capture a distinctive colonial-emancipatory nexus in which multiple hegemonies propel the oppressed to strategically mobilize coloniality as a form of resistance along the margins of China’s increasingly central position in a contemporary world order.