Asian Studies Conference Japan

Saturday, June 19 - Sunday 20, 2004
Ichigaya Campus of Sophia University

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 Contact the organizers: Asian Studies Conference (ASCJ) c/o Institute of Asian Cultural Studies, International Christian University 3-10-2 Osawa, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 181

Session 5: Room 208

Individual Paper Session: Gender in Asia

Chair: Kazuko Tanaka, International Christian University

1) Asmita Hulyalkar, Cornell University.
Women Under-writing: Narratives of Japanese and Indian Women in the Late 19th Century

While Tsuda Umeko’s (1864-1929) remarkable childhood and career as an educator has received increasing attention in Japanese and English scholarship, her connection with the Indian reformer Pandita Ramabai (1858-1922), a key figure in Indian historiography, has been relatively unexplored. Tsuda first encountered Ramabai, a feminist, educator and social reformer of international repute when the latter visited Tokyo in 1889. My paper reads and interprets the lives of these two women within a comparative frame, arguing for the need for a pan-Asian perspective in current feminist debates. As my point of entry into the comparative framework I draw upon two texts: Japanese Girls and Women, authored by Tsuda in conjunction with Alice Bacon (1891) and The High-Caste Hindu Woman (1888) authored by Ramabai. Written in English for an American audience within a few years of each other, Tsuda's text reflected an awareness of Ramabai. In bringing to the fore what clearly were the most pressing questions in gender in late nineteenth century, the work of these women makes it possible for us to configure the contradictory location of woman in the politics of culture of colonial/nationalist India and imperialist Japan.

2) Etsuko Kato, International Christian University.
Sad Marriage of (Post-)colonialism, Feminism and Anthropology: Or Why Japanese Sexual Behavior Is Always Intriguing

Since Ruth Benedict’s The Chrysanthemum and the Sword, American anthropology has repeatedly produced literature on the Japanese women and men from one specific viewpoint: their sexual behavior. Even after postcolonial critics criticized the past representations of the Third World as “erotic Other”, Japanese women and men who are in the First World have continuously been depicted as erotic. Noteworthy is that it is mainly women/feminist researchers, not men, who write on the topics in increasingly implicit colonialist language. This paper examines the logic behind the literature and its relationship to American feminism. It points out the possibility that women and men of other First World Asian countries/areas (e.g. Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong) are being depicted in the same way as Japanese women and men have been.

3) Ming-Kuok Lim, Niigata University.
How Japanese Women are Portrayed in Contemporary Japanese Television Dramas: A Content Analysis

This paper aims to analyze the very popular terebi dorama (television drama) genre in Japan in particular the role of female characters. The terebi dorama genre has consistently generated favorable ratings every season. Besides being an entertainment form, terebi dorama portrays to a certain extent mirrors how society view women, what are deemed exceptable and what are not. Therefore it is logical to study the portrayal of women in contemporary terebi dorama. A preliminary 14 different terebi dorama aired during the summer and autumn of 2003 will be used in content analysis. Areas to be explored includes stereotypical roles of women character, powerful roles (aggressive) versus powerless roles (submissive), the "new age women" role, and male characters response to various female characters. Also of interest in this research is the "reaction" of the society set around the female character in response to the role that they play. In order to obtain a more indepth analysis of terebi dorama, one drama will be selected for case study.

4) Geng Song, Nanyang Technological University.
Chinese Masculinities: Difference, Hybridity and Dialogue

The study of Chinese masculinities has become an emergent field of study in recent years. The awareness of the problematic and the increasing interest in this topic demonstrate the theoretical as well as methodological tendencies to move and to dialogue between cultures and disciplines. Re-reading of Chinese masculinity from comparative perspectives symbolizes the attempt to address "Chineseness" in a postcolonial context. Studies so far have identified many interesting and distinguishing characteristics of the construction of masculinity in indigenous Chinese culture, such as the wen-wu matrix, the fluidity of yin/yang identity, the interactions between politics and gender discourses and the relatively absence of homophobia. All the findings have contributed significantly to a more sophisticated conceptualization of masculinity as ideology from a global perspective. At the same time, the study also offers one of the most important ways to see how "modern" gender discourse was appropriated from the West along with the Chinese intellectuals' quest for modernity and how the Western discourse has been internalized as the universal, natural mode.

The paper starts out with a brief look at the indigenous discourse of masculinity as an alternative version from the all-pervading, internalized Western one. This is followed by an overview of the hybridity of gender discourse in today's Chinese culture, with critical readings of some TV series recently shown in China. The paper also addresses the interaction between nationalism and gender against the context of the paradox of globalization versus localization.


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