In a State of Excess
"Reckless Gathering" and the Meiji Cultivation of Ago Bay
École Francaise d’Extrême-Orient
15 gennaio 2019 18:00
Across the nineteenth century world, conservation policy emerged alongside discourses of plants and animals in crisis. Hunters, gatherers, and catchers became subject to criticism for “destruction” and “exhaustion” on land and in the water. Such was the case along the coasts of Meiji Japan. Looking to Euro-American examples and to environmental interpretations of Japan’s political transformation, the Meiji state fisheries bureaucracy began to see local practices in terms of excess, most commonly “reckless gathering” or rankaku.
This talk revisits the contentious beginnings of pearl cultivation in Mie Prefecture’s Ago Bay, the world’s center of pearl farming for most of the twentieth century. Pearl cultivation did not simply come to Ago Bay. To the contrary, pearl cultivation and Ago Bay itself were co-constructions of Meiji conservation’s central problem of “reckless gathering,” which became tied not just to the regulation of gatherers but also to a search for alternative ways of governing animals. In southern Mie, this included individual, monopoly control over salt water and pearl-bearing shellfish under a rubric of “cultivation” or yōshoku.
Kjell Ericson (PhD, Princeton University) is Program-Specific Assistant Professor at Kyoto University, with affiliations in the Graduate School of Letters and Joint Degree Master’s Program in Transcultural Studies. His research focuses on environmental history in the Japanese archipelago, often underpinned by trans-regional histories of science and technology. Currently he is working on a book-length manuscript entitled Pearl Capital: Ago Bay and the Cultivation of Coastal Japan, 1880-1970. He has published essays in the Journal of the History of Biology and forthcoming edited volumes on the history of marine biology (University of Chicago Press) and intellectual property (Cambridge University Press).
Pushing Filial Piety
The Otogizoshi Nijushiko and an Osaka Publisher’s ‘Benecial Books for Women’
École française d'Extrême-Orient
4 dicembre 2018 18:00
At sometime between 1716 and 1729, the Osaka publisher Shibukawa Seiemon published a box-set anthology of twenty-three otogizôshi —works of short medieval fiction—which he titled “The Felicitous Wedding Companion Library” and advertised as being “beneficial for women.” Among the twenty-three works is a translation of Guo Jujing’s early fourteenth-century Ershisi xiao shi xuan (Selected Verses on All Aspects of the Twenty-Four Filial Exemplars), which, since the late Muromachi period, has been known in Japan simply as Nijûshikô (The Twenty-Four Filial Exemplars). Around the same time, Shibukawa also published at least six major educational texts for women, three of which include illustrated tales from Nijûshikô. In this talk, Kimbrough will consider Shibukawa’s otogizôshi Nijûshikô in the light of those three texts to answer a simple yet puzzling question: for Shibukawa and his readers, what exactly were the lessons for women in Nijûshikô ?
Keller Kimbrough is a professor of Japanese in the Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He completed his Ph.D. at Yale University in 1999, and he has held teaching positions at the University of Michigan, the University of Virginia, Colby College, and the University of Colorado. His publications include Preachers, Poets, Women, and the Way: Izumi Shikibu and the Buddhist Literature of MedievalJapan (University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies, 2008), Wondrous Brutal Fictions: Eight Buddhist Tales from the Early Japanese Puppet Theater (Columbia University Press, 2013), and Monsters, Animals, and Other Worlds: A Collection of Short Medieval Japanese Tales (ColumbiaUniversity Press, 2018), co-edited with Haruo Shirane.
Differing Approaches to the “Reconstruction” of the Bugaku Piece Somakusha
École française d'Extrême-Orient
6 novembre 2018 18:00
Japanese medieval musical treatises often provide engaging legends concerning the origins of bugaku suites, the graceful dances at the core of the repertory of Japanese “elegant music” (gagaku). One of these “origin stories” concerns a piece called Somakusha: according to Koma no Chikazane’s Kyōkunshō (1233), legend had it that Prince Shōtoku Taishi was once playing the flute while riding on a horse when, suddenly, a mountain god charmed by the melody appeared before him in the shape of a monkey and improvised a dance. The monkey-face mask still used by the dancer could thus be taken as evidence that the bugaku piece is a depiction of this scene. This talk will focus on several contemporary attempts to reconstruct both the “original” melody of Somakusha and the very instrument mentioned in Chikazane’s treatise. Drawing on interviews with gagaku performers, instrument makers and scholars, but also on my own analysis of the earliest notations available, the talk will argue that the reconstructions of Somakusha are creative re-inventions of tradition, and that, to quote Richard Taruskin, they reveal a great deal about “the presence of the past and the pastness of the present”.
Andrea Giolai is JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Nichibunken) in Kyoto. In 2017 he received a double PhD degree in Area Studies at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and Leiden University, where he also taught Introduction to Japanese Performing Arts. He has carried out research on gagaku at Kyoto University and at the Research Centre for Japanese Traditional Music of Kyoto City University of Arts. His research interests also include the use of the body in ethnomusicological research; the “reconstruction” of ancient notations and instruments used in Japanese “elegant music”; Japanese Buddhist chanting (shōmyō); the shakuhachi flute and its music. Since 2013 he is a member of the gagaku group Nanto gakuso.
Boxes of Fleas and Butter
Collecting Insects in Colonial Taiwan
École française d'Extrême-Orient
11 ottobre 2018 18:00
This talk will look into practices surrounding the collection and trade of insects in early twentieth-century Taiwan. It will explore the origins and entanglement of a mass-fabrication of research specimens, decorative art, and knowledge by focusing on two main actors, who both collected extensively but with different goals in mind. Hans Sauter, a German entomologist and collecting entrepreneur based in Taiwan, was interested in taxonomy and biogeography. He collaborated with the director of the German Entomological Museum towards what they called a “mass-fabrication of knowledge” about Taiwan’s insect world. Nawa Yasushi, a Japanese entomologist based in Gifu, founded his own insect research institute, which focused on applied entomology. In addition to research on insect pests and beneficial species, Nawa built an Entomological Factory, which mass-produced decorative objects such as paper lanterns or folding fans out of Taiwanese butteries. Together, their activities established an insect collecting economy in Colonial Taiwan. Fleas, beetles, or butterflies became resources that were accumulated, sold, traded, and turned into artifacts—into seemingly authentic representations of nature for museum collections or into aesthetic objects for the decorative arts.
Kerstin Pannhorst worked as a researcher in the humanities department of the Museum für aturkunde in Berlin and in the Neanderthal Museum near Düsseldorf, where she co-curated several exhibitions on cultural history. She is currently completing her PhD in history in Berlin, both at Humboldt niversity and at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. Her research especially focuses on the intersections between natural history specimens, the arts, museum collecting, global trade and conomies of knowledge. She is co-editor of the book Wissensdinge. Geschichten aus dem aturkundemuseum (Nicolai Verlag, 2015), featuring essays on objects from the collections of Berlin’s Natural History Museum.
Heresy and Heresiology in Shingon Buddhism
Reading the Catalogues of “Perverse Texts”
École française d'Extrême-Orient
14 settembre 2018 18:00
In the medieval period a comprehensive discourse on “heresy” began to develop within Japanese Shingon Buddhist circles. This was mainly centered on the Tachikawa lineage (Tachikawa-ryu), a group known for its alleged dark rituals employing an explicit sexual imagery. Shingon monks did not only criticize such practices, but also created vast catalogues of writings considered heretical (jasho mokuroku).
Compiled in 1375, the oldest and most inuential of them—the Tachikawa shogyo mokuroku (Catalogue of Works Belonging to the Tachikawa Lineage)— lists the titles of more than 350 texts, but without much explanation as to their contents. Later works built on this catalogue’s ideas and rened them, and some even expanded the scope of such eorts. This talk will focus on one of these from around 1700, the Mosho jaho jagi-sho mokuroku (Catalogue of Texts Containing Perverse Doctrines and Rituals)—which also contains a broader reection on suspect or apocryphal works, and will present an analysis of this kind of sources to show how they give access to key concepts of the extremely shifting notion of “heresy,” and also apply a particular form of textual critique.
Gaétan Rappo is an associate professor at the Research Center for Cultural Heritage and Texts, Nagoya University. He has been conducting research on medieval Japanese religions, with a focus on Shingon Buddhism and Shinto. His book, Rhétoriques de l’hérésie dans le Japon médiéval (2017), analyses the life and work of the Shingon monk known as Monkan (1278-1357) confronting primary sources with posthumous depictions of this gure as a “heretic.” He has also edited medieval manuscripts, and published several articles on medieval Buddhist paintings as well as digital humanities applied to authorship attribution of Japanese religious texts.