Fun Link Friday: Far Outliers

The blog Far Outliers describes itself as “Exploring migrants, exiles, expatriates, and out-of-the-way peoples, places, and times, mostly in the Asia-Pacific region.” Posts on the blog range widely, covering lots of really interesting and, indeed, “far outlying” topics, from a breadfruit revolution in Ghana, and Afghanistan as the “University of Jihad”, to numerous posts on Native American history, Korean history, and Central Asia. There are, of course, numerous posts on Japan as well. I’ve learned so much about interesting different corners of the world from this blog, and you just never know what he’s going to post about next.

In recent weeks, the author of Far Outliers has been typing up and posting sections from notebooks kept by his brother, when the brother was working as a guide at the 1975 Ocean Expo, held in Nago, Okinawa (incidentally, Ocean Expo Park remains a major tourist attraction today, and includes the Churaumi Aquarium, the Oceanic Cultures Museum, an open-air architectural museum of Okinawan architecture, and a small botanical gardens, among other attractions). His posts provide some fun glimpses into the experience of the Expo, and some interesting commentary on Japanese & Okinawan etymologies & linguistics. They include posts on:
*Taketomi Island + traditional Ryukyuan tattooing
*Sailing and Tattoos
*The Japanese suffix “-buru”, meaning roughly “to pretend [to do/be something]
*shopping for knives

A view of Iejima from Ocean Expo Park. Photo by Travis, 20 Sept 2014.

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Job Opening: Reischauer Policy Research Fellow

Reischauer Policy Research Fellows Program

Program Overview:

Inaugurated in May 2013, the Reischauer Policy Research Fellows Program is a critical element of the Reischauer Center at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC. It is designed to support the Center’s various research initiatives, while also providing recent undergraduate or graduate students with broad practical experience regarding the public and private-sector analysis process. Fellowships are paid and tenable for one academic year beginning in late August 2017 with the potential for renewal for an additional year.

While the Reischauer Center’s website is currently under construction, more information about our activities can be found on our Facebook page (@ReischauerCenter). Please direct any questions about the position or application process to Alexander Evans, Research and Program Coordinator, at

Job Description:

Research Fellows personally assist Dr. Kent Calder, Director of the Reischauer Center, with projects related to the Center’s mission of supporting the study of transpacific and intra-Asian relations. Recent topics include, but are not limited to: the role of cities in global governance; the functioning of Washington’s ‘idea industry’ and government-business relations; policy best practices in U.S.-Japan relations such as healthcare, infrastructure, and agriculture; global energy policy; and comparative Eurasian political economy.

Fellows also provide logistical support for seminars, luncheons, and conferences offered by the Reischauer Center. They are able to interact with senior researchers affiliated with the Center as part of our Visiting Scholars Program, who typically join us for one academic year from various government agencies in Japan. Furthermore, Fellows are welcome to participate in events in the larger Johns Hopkins SAIS community and are frequently able to attend courses in the Japan Studies department.

Ideal Qualifications and Skills:

    • Bachelor’s degree or higher in Political Science, International Relations, Economics, History, East Asian Studies, or a related field
      Interest in the regional issues of East Asia
    •  Exceptional research, writing, and editing skills
    • Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, and familiarly with online academic databases
    • Ability to work both independently and in a team setting
    • Fluency in relevant languages such as Japanese, Korean, or Chinese

How to Apply:

Send a resume, cover letter, and a 1,000 word writing sample to the Reischauer Center at Previously submitted papers or memos are acceptable, as well as excerpts of longer works.

Interested applicants should apply as soon as possible since applications will be considered on a rolling basis for three positions with final decisions made no later than July 14, 2017.

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Call for Papers: Nation, Gender and History, Asian Cinemas in Perspective

Nation, Gender and History: Asian Cinemas in Perspective
International conference
Vilnius University, Centre of Oriental Studies, 7-9 September 2017

Asian Arts Centre and The Centre of Oriental Studies of Vilnius University (Lithuania) invite scholars, film professionals and enthusiasts to Nation, Gender and History, an international conference on the cinemas of Asia.

The deadline for abstracts is 30 April 2017.

The idea of a national culture has played a fundamental role in the definition, historiography and evaluation of Asian cultural practices for at least two centuries, and cinema is no exception. In today’s world, however, ideas of the nation appear as increasingly problematic. The same can be said of gender, the pertinence of which in individuals’ understanding of themselves and their history has, over the last decades, been challenged from many fronts. And yet both ideas of nation and gender continue to mark discourses about identities and countries, including and perhaps especially in situations of conflict. 2017 marks the 70th anniversary of the independence and partition of India and Pakistan. The conference takes this opportunity to raise the question: can we still argue for the centrality of national cinemas? What role do notions of gender play in our appreciation of a nation’s cinema? And how do the interconnections between gender and nation in cinema help us understand the present historical moment?

The first aim of this conference is to create a dialogic space in which to revisit the ways in which, today and in the past, nation, gender and history interact(ed) and shape(d) one another in the cinemas of Asia. The term ‘Asia’ is used here as a short-hand to point to the cinema made in wide range of very diverse countries, rather than as a fixed, singular or homogenous entity – an invitation to look beyond the globalised canon of much film theory. Our second aim is thus also to explore points of convergences and trans-cultural forms and practices across this region. Has cinema ever been ‘national’ in Asia? What role does it play today, or did it play in the past, in constructing pan-Asian subjectivities? How does gender – the staple of nationalist discourses – function in specific trans-national or regional cinemas?

While we are interested in papers on the cinema of every Asian country, we particularly welcome papers on the all too often overlooked and still poorly researched cinemas of Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, as well as on regional language formations such as Pashto, Sindhi, or Bhojpuri cinemas. We especially welcome papers on popular, low-budget genres (exploitation, B-grade, horror, sci-fi, and erotic films).

Below is a list of themes the conference will endeavor to address. It is not an exhaustive list and is intended as a guide, not as a set of limitations. We welcome suggestions and proposals on related topics.

– the representation of sexuality and/or its repression; cinematic images of a sexual nature, their censorship and their exploitation; the filmic displacement of representations of sexual desire;

–  gender and film genres. We are particularly interested in papers examining gender in exploitation, B-grade, horror, sci-fi, low budget film productions;

–  gendered allegories of the nation, including mythological representations;

–  technical and/or narrative aspects of gender representations; male and female gazes; cinematography, editing, sound and gender;

–  national and trans-national aspects of stardom, production and/or distribution; transnational connections; diaspora cinema;

–  gender and the film industry, including directors, distributors and exhibitors.

Abstracts / proposals should be in English and of no more than 350 words, including a 50 word author biography.  Time for each paper: 20 minutes.

The conference registration fee is EUR 40 to be paid upon arrival and covers:

  • conference folder and badge
  • refreshments during scheduled breaks
  • receptions

The deadline for abstracts is 30 April 2017.

Send your abstract / proposal to the conference organisers at

In your email, please specify academic or professional affiliation.

More information at the conference website:

Contact Info:

The conference is organized by Dr Deimantas Valanciunas (Vilnius University) and Dr Valentina Vitali (University of East London). For all conference related queries you can contact the organizers by the conference email or by writing directly to Dr. Deimantas Valanciunas at

Contact Email:
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Job Opening: Lecturer in Japanese Studies, University of Leeds

Lecturer in Japanese Studies, University of Leeds

Faculty/Service: Faculty of Arts, Humanities & Cultures
Category: Academic
Grade: Grade 7 to Grade 8
Salary: £34,956 to £46,924 p.a.

Post available from 1 August 2017

Are you an academic with proven abilities to carry out teaching and research in Japanese Studies? Do you have an excellent research record and a potential for establishing an international reputation? Are you passionate about delivering an exceptional student experience in a research-intensive Russell Group University?

As Lecturer in Japanese Studies, you will carry out research and teaching that complements our existing research strengths and teaching interests in the Japanese section of East Asian Studies. On the teaching side, you will be able to teach at all levels of our Single and Joint Honours undergraduate programmes in Japanese Studies. You will also supervise research students and contribute to the Japanese-English specialised translation strands on our MA in Applied Translation Studies (MAATS) and to other relevant MA programmes within the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies.

You will have some relevant teaching experience and a PhD in Japanese Studies, ideally with a specialism in the Religion, Anthropology or History of Japan. You will also pursue a research agenda that builds on your achievements to date and that contributes to the unit’s reputation for high quality and innovative research, and contribute to the effective management of the School, Faculty, and wider University.

Further details: Lecturerer in Japanese Studies.pdf

To explore the post further or for any queries you may have, please contact:

Irena Hayter, Programme Manager, Japanese Studies, Email:

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Book Announcement: Ritualized Writing: Buddhist Practice and Scriptural Cultures in Ancient Japan

Ritualized Writing: Buddhist Practice and Scriptural Cultures in Ancient Japan

Kuroda Studies in East Asian Buddhism
University of Hawaii Press, 2017
Author: Bryan D. Lowe

Ritualized Writing takes readers into the fascinating world of Japanese Buddhist manuscript cultures. Using archival sources that have received scant attention in English, primarily documents from an eighth-century Japanese scriptorium and colophons from sutra manuscripts, Bryan D. Lowe uncovers the ways in which the transcription of Buddhist scripture was a highly ritualized endeavor. He takes a ground-level approach by emphasizing the activities and beliefs of a wide range of individuals, including scribes, provincial patrons, and royals, to reassess the meaning of scripture and reevaluate scholarly narratives of Japanese Buddhist history.

Copying scripture is a central Buddhist practice and one that thrived in East Asia. Despite this, there are no other books dedicated to the topic. This work demonstrates that patrons and scribes treated sutras differently from other modes of writing. Scribes purified their bodies prior to transcription. Patrons held dedicatory ceremonies on days of abstinence, when prayers were pronounced and sutras were recited. Transcribing sutras helped scribes and patrons alike realize this- and other-worldly ambitions and cultivate themselves in accord with Buddhist norms. Sutra copying thus functioned as a form of ritualized writing, a strategic practice that set apart scripture as uniquely efficacious and venerable.

Lowe employs this notion of ritualized writing to challenge historical narratives about ancient Japan (late seventh through early ninth centuries), a period when sutra copying flourished. He contends that Buddhist practice fulfilled a variety of social, political, and spiritual roles beyond ideological justification. Moreover, he demonstrates the inadequacy of state-folk dichotomies for understanding the social groups, institutions, and individual beliefs and practices of ancient Japanese Buddhism, highlighting instead common organizations across social class and using models that reveal shared concerns among believers from diverse social backgrounds.

Ritualized Writing makes broader contributions to the study of ritual and scripture by introducing the notion of scriptural cultures, an analytic tool that denotes a series of dynamic relationships and practices involving texts that have been strategically set apart or ritualized. Scripture, Lowe concludes, is at once a category created by humans and a body of texts that transforms individuals and social organizations who come into contact with it.

“Bryan Lowe offers a richly textured account of early Japanese Buddhist manuscript cultures and their associated ritual practices. Through careful analysis of scriptural colophons as well as materials from the Shōsōin archive, Lowe demonstrates the importance of ritualized writing for rulers, aristocrats, scribes, and ‘good friends’ of the Buddhist Dharma across the Japanese islands. In so doing, he provides a compelling new account of contemporaneous understandings of merit, kingship, deities, religious identity, and a host of other issues that resonated within Japanese religious culture for centuries.” (Michael Como, Columbia University)

“Bryan Lowe’s ground-breaking book is extraordinary for its insights into an era and topic that have long been ignored in the West: the Nara Period and the copying of scriptures. Lowe uses an interdisciplinary approach that includes political, economic, ritual, and ethical aspects in an exemplary fashion. His examination of the Indian, Central Asian, and Sinitic backgrounds of the subject extends his discussion to almost all of Buddhist Asia.” (Paul Groner, professor emeritus, University of Virginia)

Here is the link to the UH Press page:

Kindle editions at a significantly reduced price are also available via Amazon:

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Workshop: 2017 Early Modern Japan Summer Workshop: Reading Kuzushiji

The Center for East Asian Studies Committee on Japanese Studies at the University of Chicago is pleased to announce the 2017 Early Modern Japan Summer Workshop: Reading Kuzushiji. The workshop will meet from June 12th to June 17th.   This year’s workshop will feature two tracks. Professor Ken’ichiro Aratake of Tohoku University’s Northeast Asia Center will instruct the intermediate group in the reading of manuscript materials from the Tokugawa and early Meiji period, while Dr. Nobuko Toyosawa (former UofC postdoctoral fellow, now Fellow at the Czech Republic’s Oriental Institute) will lead a two-day introductory workshop focusing on print materials.  Participants in Dr. Toyosawa’s group will be prepared to join the intermediate group from day 3 of the workshop.  The workshop will conclude with a symposium on Saturday, June 17th that features presentations by participants on their research projects.

The workshop is open to faculty, graduate students, librarians, and curators.  Please note that the workshop will be conducted in Japanese and participants should have a working knowledge of classical grammar and some familiarity with hentaigana.  There is a $100 program fee that covers copy costs and lunch each day.

Modest funds are available to assist faculty and graduate students coming from institutions unable to offer support.

Applications can be submitted online at

Modest funds are available to assist faculty and graduate students coming from institutions unable to offer support.

Additional inquiries can be directed to the workshop organizer, Professor Susan Burns (  The application deadline is May 1, 2017.

Participants are responsible for making their own housing arrangements.  In the past, participants have used airbnb and to identify inexpensive lodging options.  In addition, housing is available in guest houses in Hyde Park with a listing available here.

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Award: Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize 2017

The Department of Asian Studies at Cornell University is pleased to announce the 2017 prize honoring the life and work of our colleague, Kyoko Selden. The prize will pay homage to the finest achievements in Japanese literature, thought, and society through the medium of translation. Kyoko Selden’s translations and writings ranged widely across such realms as Japanese women writers, Japanese art and aesthetics, the atomic bomb experience, Ainu and Okinawan life and culture, historical and contemporary literature, poetry and prose, and early education (the Suzuki method). Recognizing the breadth of Japanese writings, classical and contemporary, and with the aim of making such materials more widely available, we ask that prize submissions be of unpublished translations. Collaborative translations are welcomed. In order to encourage classroom use and wide dissemination of the winning entries, prize-winning translations will be made freely available on the web. The winning translations will be published online at The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus.

Prize selections will take into account both the quality of the translation and the significance of the original work. In cases where a text already published in English is deemed worthy of retranslation, new translations of significant texts are accepted (please provide date and place of earlier publication). Applicants should submit the following to the Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize, Department of Asian Studies, 350 Rockefeller Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853:

  • Three copies of an unpublished translation
  • Three copies of a statement of up to 1,000 words explaining the significance of the text. Although we do not require that the translator has already obtained permission to publish the translation from the copyright holder (in the case of works not in the public domain), please include in the statement information about whether preliminary inquiries have been made.
  • One printed copy of the original Japanese text
  • A brief c.v. of the translator
  • Electronic copies of all the above sent as attachments to

The maximum length of a submission is 20,000 words. In case of translation of longer works, submit an excerpt of up to 20,000 words. Repeat submissions are welcomed. Please note that the closing date for the prize competition this year will be August 1, 2017. For the 2017 competition, one prize of $1,500 will be awarded in two different categories:

1) to an already published translator; 2) to an unpublished translator. The winners will be announced by November 1, 2017.

Contact Info:

Department of Asian Studies

Contact Email:

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