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)



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.

Emi Koyama’s Visit: Class visit, and Her Lectures on International Adoption and Intersex

June 1, 2007

We were lucky enough to have Emi Koyama visit our class, and give two really interesting talks for the Celebrating Protest Lecture Series. I first met her when she visited our class and gave a introduction to intersex, and it’s common misperceptions. Emi is a really great speaker, she got our entire class hooked as soon as she shared with us her infamous snail story. Snails apparently dance around each other for hours, circling each other before they mate. Eventually when they decide they like each other, they swap by the neck and both parties are impregnated. These snails are what hermaphrodites are, never humans. She spoke of the mistaken identity of intersex people, mainly intersex children. I had not much previous knowledge about intersex and found her class visit very informational. She shared with us major shojo mangas and boy mangas that now feature intersex. They seemed interesting and hope to read them some day.

Her activist writing on children of intersex was really interesting. Until I read her articles, I had never thought about the negative impact the medical community could potentially have on intersex children. Because I studied biology at this school, and work at the University hospital, I only have views of the medical community as doing anything they can to help people. It was unusual for me to hear her speak on the negative impact medicine could potentially have on these children. The reason she sees this is because these children, due to their unusual physical appearance, are often times examined by an entire medical team. It is sometimes referred to as a “public stripping” where the children must undress in front of a team. Sometimes pictures are taken of their naked bodies. I am a bit torn on this issue, as it makes sense that the medical team’s purpose is to pursue further medical knowledge of intersex so that more can be done to help intersex children. However at the same time, the way things are done currently seem to be a bit extreme and very careless of the children’s emotions. Hopefully improvements can be made for the future.
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Tari and Masa’s Visit and “Rubber Tit” Performance

May 29, 2007

The very first part of Tari and Masa’s performance was very interesting. You see Tari in the ‘closet’ playing with the microphone in her mouth and Masa’s saxophone sounds making wind noises, and the nightvision camera showing us her ‘secrets’ projected onto the screen. The sounds, the lighting, the moving, all combined created a very dramatic feeling. It gave a very mystified feeling. The Masa’s saxaphone gave the performance more flavor, increasing the dynamic of the act. Eventually Tari came out of her crate and inflated a rubber tit. As the rubber tit inflated, she freely moved around the room wiht it. I could not help myself from laughing at some points when the gigantic rubber tit was bouncing around the room. It was especially funny to me when she just jumped into the Tit, as well as when she jiggled the Tit up and down. I think it’s great that Tari gets to act out her coming out experince in such a creative open way as well as for Masa to play her music that replaces her words. The performance was definitely worth watching.The best part of the performance was that the entire act was open to your personal interpretation. From the discussion we had about the act in class, it seemed that everyone had their own interpretation of what was going on, and what Tari and Masa was trying to tell us. The video we saw in class about the documentary on Tari was also really interesting. It showed us other examples of her performances. It was interesting to see a glimpse of the act where she worked with her own mother, and it looked like she was rolling a ball of yarn with her mother across the screen.

At first, after I watched their performance, I was a bit baffled at the reasons she did things the way she did. I was not sure why the Tit had to be rubber, why it was so big, and why she used the projector. But after meeting Tari and Masa, asking them many questions, and watching Tari’s documentary, it helped me understand a lot better of where their reasons behind their act originated from. She chose the Tit for universality (and she loves the Tit!), the projection was used to show us that she was letting us peek into her secret in the closet, and she did not preplan her actions – instead she took one action at a time inspired from each moment.

I learned so much from them, and they were a pleasure to talk to. I was really suprised at how shy Tari was! Especially when we watched her documentary, she kept laughing and blushing at watching herself perform. After her live performance I thought she would be the most energetic, loud, aggressive activist, with so much courage to put on a show with a big rubber Tit. The courageous part is definitely true, and as well she is energetic, loud, and agressive but through her special pantomime medium. Rather than strong words that could be easily overheard or miscommunicated, Tari uses her performance skills (and her awesome latex, paper mache skills) to communicate her ideas to the world. I think it is amazing that one person can make such a big impact. It seems that many people are catching on with the feminist movement and I really appreciate all the work both Tari and Masa have done. I hope to see another one of Tari’s performances in the future.

I was truly inspired by them to speak out if I want to be heard!


– Miho

The Funny Uncle

May 29, 2007

In the face of readily available data and facts to the contrary, those who have a weighted say in the development of the nuclear waste reprocessing plant at Rokkasho insist that it comes as a benefit to the community. It is just too hard to believe that they could willingly or unwillingly, wittingly or unwittingly be so blind. Kamanaka’s documentary film travels as far as the western coast of England to document the fatal effects a nuclear waste reprocessing plant can have on the community that surrounds it—in this case a community with a leukemia rate ten times the global average. The effects, moreover are not just contained within the immediate community, but can also be felt miles away as the waste and byproducts of the plant are flushed into waters that will travel to other coastlines. Given the increasingly global nature of the food economy, one has to wonder just what potential disaster awaits the global food supply with every added plant. The polluted crabs caught by the citizens who call the Isle of Man home do not come to rest there but travel to dinner plates in locations as distant as Holland and Spain.

Despite all of this Rokkasho’s plant is touted as a benefactor to Rokkasho-mura. Japan needs energy, this is true, and without plentiful natural resources like oil, natural gas or coal, the plant is meant to take steps to address this issue. Rokkasho’s plant, it is said, has and will continue to stimulate the economy of the surrounding small fishing and farming villages. From a superficial glance, it would appear that it has as it has provided jobs where there were less. Just how sustainable it will be as industry and job provider is another question. Some have suggested turning to more sustainable enterprises with less adverse health effects, such as tourism, but how many would be willing to visit an area stricken with the health problems of a nuclear plant? I wonder what will become of an area activist who makes much of her income from the tourism the tulips she grows invites. Already, a small organic rice farmer has received letters that with the beginning of the plant’s operation, customers will no longer, out of confidence issues, buy her produce.

Furthermore, through what some might call “dirty dealings” and various forms of coercion, farmers came to sell their land—land that served as their only sources of income, leaving them little other choice but to work on the construction of the plant. When construction stopped there was no other viable place to turn other than the plant for continued employment. The manner in which the plant has interwoven itself into the very body of the Rokkasho existence can only be deemed as genius, however negatively so. A citizen on the Isle of Man referred to the plant polluting the waters in which he fished as a “funny uncle,” that person in the family who is slightly off kilter, yet no one can ask to leave. Watching the way so many in Rokkasho-mura seem to thow themselves at the prospects of the plant with apparent reckless abandon, like the cleaners who hope to conduct all the plant’s uniform washing/mending business, I see little hope that the family ties will be severed any time soon.


Yoshifumi Tawara on Chicago Public Radio

May 29, 2007

Yoshifumi Tawara’s interview on Japanese Textbooks Controversy is on Chicago Public Radio’s website. (Trans. by Norma Field)
I should have posted this earlier – Sorry!

Nationalism, State Service and School Refusal

May 17, 2007

Today I posed a question to Professor Tawara about the case of student who are “school refusers” or habitually truants, and then got into an argument with some friends about the nature of the question. Hopefully, this can clarify some of the reasons I had for asking such a question, and what the question was, in and of itself.
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