This talk is cancelled due to winter storm conditions.
Few practices are simultaneously as exotic and representative, esoteric and quotidian, instrumental and sensual, political and cultural as the Japanese tea ceremony. While most Japanese have never participated in a formal tea gathering, and to many its arcane procedures remain rather alien, the practice is all but universally recognized as a defining constituent of Japanese culture, integrating arts, manners, and sensibilities deemed peculiarly characteristic of the nation into a single, striking form. This talk will explore how the tea ceremony serves as such a powerful site for evoking and invoking the nation. A phenomenological analysis will follow the flow of a tea preparation to examine how the practice, its setting, and material components facilitate an experience of Japaneseness within Japan. Next, an historical investigation will uncover the origins of these national inflections. Analysis of the productive tensions between the elite and middle class, male and female, and linguistic and corporeal will reveal how a once a status-defining practice became an inclusive symbol of the nation.
Kristin Surak is a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Japanese Politics at SOAS, University of London who specializes in international migration, culture, ethnicity, and nationalism. Her bookMaking Tea, Making Japan: Cultural Nationalism in Practice was published by Stanford University Press in 2013, and her articles have appeared in the European Journal of Sociology, International Migration Review, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Lettre International, Merkur, and the New Left Review. For her work, she has been named a Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles and a Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and has received awards and fellowships from the European University Institute, Frankfurt University, the Sainsbury Foundation, the Japan Foundation, and the Fulbright-Hays Foundation, among others. Her current research compares migration regimes and temporary migrant labor programs in East Asia and across the globe.
Sponsored by the Carolina Asia Center and the Triangle Center for Japanese Studies.
DATE: February 12, 2014
LOCATION: FedEx Global Education Center, Room 3009, UNC-Chapel Hill
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