Podcasts from Celebrating Protest series

July 5, 2007

Finally, all podcasts are on-line!

Noriaki Imai (Student, Environment and Peace Activist)
“Why I went to Iraq: Three Years Later” 

Tari Ito (Performance Artist) and MASA (Jazz Saxophonist)
“Rubber Tit”

Hitomi Kamanaka (Film Director)
“Q&A with Director Hitomi Kamanaka” 
– panel discussion on Director Kamanaka’s film, “Rokkashomura Rhapsody,” with Kamanaka, Judy Hoffman (Film Director,Cinema and Media Studies), Michael Raine (Cinema and Media Studies/ EALC) and Norma Field (EALC)

Michiko Nakajima (Lawyer)
“The Fifteen-Woman Lawsuit against Self-Defense Forces in Iraq”
Discussant: John Comaroff (Anthropology), Translation: Norma Field (EALC)

Emi Koyama
“Colonialism, Militarism, and the Political Economy of Transracial Adoption” 

Emi Koyama (Director, Intersex Initiative)
“Intersex at the Intersection of Queer Theory and Disability Theory” 

Yoshifumi Tawara(Sec. General of Children and Texbooks Network 21)
“Japanese Education and Society in Crisis” 
Translation: Norma Field (EALC)


Reunion with Nori in Kumamoto, Japan!

July 2, 2007

Sorry for the late posting – but I met Nori at a Mass Communication Studies conference held in Kumamoto in June 9-10.
I was a discussant to a panel on backlash against feminism and the role of the mass media and the internet, and Nori joined the panel as a guest speaker!

Nori was doing great – and he was so energetic! He told me that he enjoyed his experiences in Chicago so much, and he felt refreshed since then.
On Saturday night, we had a dinner/drinking gathering at a local restaurant, with lots of horse meat dishes, which is known as a local cuisine of Kumamoto.

The main speaker, Chiki (blogger), talked about his analysis of backlashers on the internet, and posed thoughts about feminism’s failure to communicate its thoughts efffectively to the general public. Nori then told his story on the bashing against him, and his own analysis and thoughts of the situation. Akihiro Kitada, a prof at the University of Tokyo, reported his work in progress on the survey he took with the internet users, especially the users of 2 Channel – and argued that it is wrong to simply assume that 2 Channelers are “right-wing.” I told about my own experience in creating websites and blogs for feminist organizations and of my own. Masami Saito, a feminist activist/scholar based in Toyama, who acted as a moderator also added her perspective as a feminist based in a rural Toyama prefecture.

If you are interested in reading the reports in Japanese, the panel participants posted the following reports and thoughts onto their own blogs.

Chiki Ogiue’s “Ogiue-shiki” (Doesn’t this name sound a bit familiar? Chiki is a big fan of Genshiken!)
General Report
Chiki’s presentation

Masami Saito’s “Gender and Media Blog”
Report and thoughts

Nori’s “Imai Noriaki no Kakera”
Academic Convention and Activism

Tomomi’s blog

Nori and Tomomi in Kumamoto

local fish “sashimi” and raw horse meat

Off to Kumamoto, and re-union (?) with Nori!

June 5, 2007

I am leaving Chicago to Kumamoto, Japan, for a conference, and will meet Nori there. Kumamoto is not far from Beppu where Nori lives. I will post my report on how he is doing (may ask Nori to post something!), possibly with some photos. So check this blog even after the quarter!



June 5, 2007

All of these posts about Nori and RubberTIT/tari&MASA make me wish that it were still the beginning of this quarter! It was awesome getting to know Nori a lot better when we were showing him around campus. I can’t believe he’s gone through so much at such a young age… To think that there is only a few years between us is crazy!

MASA’s saxophone performance during one of our class dinners was a definite highlight. I was so blown away by her playing! And then a week or so ago I went to the university’s Jazz X-Tet performance and watched them perform. They had a female trumpet player and she was great.

Overall, the Celebrating Protest Series brought in amazing speakers… And it was awesome to meet people who have done so much and are so passionate about what they have fought for and do for a living.

I really enjoyed Kiku’s presentation on techno and post-techno in class. That was truly a treat… I remember my jaw dropping the entire time because it was all so new to me.

Emi’s visit was great, too. We all remember the snail mating story, don’t we? Haha.

And, of course, Beryl & Addie. American otaku unite! That was a very fun class period as well.

Response to Nori

June 4, 2007

My response is less on Nori’s actual visit, and more on the story he tells about his experience upon his return to Japan. I think what’s really interesting is the extent to which Japanese culture berated his actions, but more so how this reaction was fueled and allowed for via the contextual rules and cultural norms of internet culture. It seems to me that the Japanese rules of online communication are in almost direct opposition to the modes of conduct in actual, person-to-person interaction. Online discussions seem to serve not as a medium that mirrors daily life, but rather as one through which the societal norms and expectations are radically different. I’m unsure how to view this phenomenon, though, and whether it should be considered as a sort of emotional release, as though the official systems of honor and altruism of Japanese public life necessitate some form of mass cultural aggression, and that internet forums serve as a way to express this, or whether the new medium of the internet instead foreshadows some sort of shift in Japanese standards of socio-cultural normativity. Even if the latter were the case, though, this wouldn’t explain the specific reaction Nori was subjected to, for if the internet proves to be some liberalizing wunder-medium then we would see a dramatic lessening of the values that traditional Japanese culture encourages an enforces, not just their expression in other ways. Obviously, I have a hard time placing Nori’s experience upon his release and return to Japan, however I think that it is a really poignant story, and has the potential to speak volumes about the crossing of internet phenomena and real-world (read: political) events.

Nori’s visit

June 3, 2007

I must say that I was at first quite surprised to hear about Nori’s situation and experience in Iraq but was given the opportunity to speak with him personally at the dinner. I find it very unfortunate that he was forced to be the object of ridicule after having suffered as he did those nine days as a hostage and to be accused of the activities that he was when he returned. What I also found interesting was how he seemed to speak only of his critics and not his supporters when he said that he received about 50/50 of each. However, it seems as though he would be more likely to focus on his critics because they are the ones that seemed to trouble him the most, whereas his supporters were telling him things that perhaps he felt should be obvious. What I mean by this is that he felt that everyone should more or less understand what he went through and at least show some form of sympathy for one who has endured what he has, but this was not the case. It is often true that we tend to focus our attention on areas that need improvement rather than those we already feel are in the right place and so I can understand his approach. I think it takes tremendous courage for him to come and speak to us about these experiences and I am sorry that there are still those out there who do not believe what he has said but I do hope that eventually, the internet blogs will serve to elucidate the events that transpired during his capture and perhaps make more available to the public information regarding such occurrences so as to prevent future victims like Nori from dealing with the criticism he has faced.

– Alan

Nori’s Visit and Nori’s Lecture

May 29, 2007

Nori’s visit to class was such a treat! It was so great to be able to meet him, hear his personal story, and listen to his lecture. He is a very friendly person and very easy to talk to. It was clear that Nori was not in Chicago to teach us about how scared he was, or how hard it was going through what he went through in Iraq but rather it was the aftermath in Japan that he wanted to share with us. Rather than telling us about his situation in Iraq, he mainly focused his talk in class about the harsh hate mail he received after he was released from Iraq. He informed us about the internet culture in Japan, and the dangers of 2channel. He showed us photographs of the very harsh messages people sent him on postcards. Nori seemed like a very forgiving person, as he was very interested in reaching out to each and everyone of those people that wrote hate mail to him. He was perplexed on why these people have energy to go out of their way to write these messages to him. He told us during his celebrating protest lecture that he felt that the youth of Japan was too ignorant with what was going on with the government. He said that if all the youth that messaged him with hate mail, could use their energy to do something productive, so muc good could occur. I realized after meeting him the importance of having a passion. He taught me in just a few days that having something to live for as he does, to get youths like us to be more active in our own world, as well to eliminate depleted uranium used in battlefields is essential to get past the lows and highs of everyday. His views of not calling the people that criticized him as enemies but rather people with energy that could one day shift their energy towards something good is very generous. Nori tries hard to contact these people and ask them why they feel the way they do. Nori is a very courageous person, he has a very open mind and open heart to forgive and to move on to a better cause as a whole. In the future, I hope to be more open minded as he is, and if ever in a conflict to look at why someone is angry at me rather than dwelling on the fact itself that they are angry at me.

– Miho