Research beyond borders

Nathaniel Bright Emerson (1839–1915). Unidentified photographer. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Image courtesy of The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.


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Born and Raised in Hawai‘i

Nathaniel Bright Emerson (1839–1915). Unidentified photographer. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Image courtesy of The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

In our latest Blog Post, Tom Smith, Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) International Placement Scheme Fellow from the University of Cambridge, talks all things Emerson.  The post was completed during Tom’s time at the Huntington Library, whilst undertaking an AHRC Funded Placement.  Details of the 2018 Scheme can be found on the website, and the closing date is 25th January 2018. Tom is one of a number of fellows that have written Blogs, and many can be found within the pages of the Research beyond the Borders Blog by clicking on “International Placement Scheme” within “On this Blog”.

IPS

Click on “International Placement Scheme” within ‘On this Blog’

One of the greatest joys for historians doing archival research is the opportunity to become lost in someone else’s world. I had this experience during my recent fellowship at The Huntington as I delved into the papers of Nathaniel Bright Emerson (1839–1915), a physician, ethnologist, and author of several books on Hawaiian mythology.

I’d suspected Emerson would be a figure of interest in my research into the religious dimensions of American empire building in the Pacific Ocean in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. What I didn’t anticipate was how the richness of his personal papers would draw me in. As I got to know Emerson, I saw a complex figure emerge whose published works did not appear to fully represent the thoughts of the man himself. This complexity suggested something broader about the uncertainties of American engagement with the Pacific in this period.

Emerson was born in Waialua on the Hawaiian island of Oahu to Ursula Emerson and the Reverend John S. Emerson, who arrived from the United States as missionaries in 1832. Educated first at Punahou, the school for mission children in Honolulu, Nathaniel then studied at Williams College in Massachusetts, served in the Union Army during the Civil War, and trained as a medic at Harvard and in New York. He returned to Hawai‘i in 1878, ultimately taking up the presidency of the Hawaiian Board of Health.

Title page of Emerson’s book Unwritten Literature of Hawaii: The Sacred Songs of the Hula, published by the Smithsonian Institution’s Bureau of American Ethnology in 1909. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Image courtesy of The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

Despite his medical expertise, Emerson’s greatest passion was for the Hawaiian past, and he pursued this interest with vigour from the end of his tenure at the Board of Health in 1890 until his death. In particular, he was a keen collector of Hawaiian folklore, asserting the need to gather and commit to paper fragments of oral tradition before the onslaught of “civilization” transformed Hawai‘i beyond recognition. Emerson published three major works on the subject of Hawaiian tradition, beginning with a translation of Hawaiian historian David Malo’s work in 1898, released under the title Hawaiian Antiquities. Next came Unwritten Literature of Hawaii: The Sacred Songs of the Hula in 1909, followed by Pele and Hiiaka: A Myth from Hawaii shortly before his death in 1915.

Through his ethnological studies of the Hawaiian people, Emerson was able to enhance his reputation as a man of science. In particular, Unwritten Literature of Hawaii was picked up and published by the Bureau of American Ethnology of the Smithsonian Institution, leading one reviewer in the New York Daily Tribune to proclaim that Emerson’s conclusions were “asserted on the authority of Uncle Sam himself.” Emerson’s books suggested that he was dispassionately to add to the sum of the world’s knowledge about indigenous peoples. But what struck me as I pored over his unpublished essays, literary work, and correspondence was that in private he appeared to understand Hawaiian tradition in rather more poetic terms.

Detail of an article about Emerson’s book Unwritten Literature of Hawaii in the New York Daily Tribune, Sunday, Jan. 23, 1910. 

Image courtesy of  The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens  The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

I got the sense that Emerson felt somewhat alienated from modern American life and was looking for an outlet through which he might express his sense of connection to the natural beauty of the land of his birth. He disdained urban life, prudish and inflexible moral codes, and the ignorance of Americans regarding Hawai‘i, even claiming that “I have been ready at times to exclaim with Wordsworth: ‘Great God! I’d rather be a pagan.’” He meanwhile celebrated Hawaiian tales as being “saturated with the salt air of the Great Ocean,” “redolent of perfumed mountains and rustling palms,” and “reminiscent of the glory and awe of volcanic mysteries.” Emerson’s private ambition to be a short-story writer failed to bear fruit, but he identified in Hawaiian tradition a source for the words which he could not find. He styled himself as mediator between Hawaiians’ responses to the landscape around them and the written word.

Given Emerson’s obvious romanticism, it is interesting that his conclusions should end up being accepted as scientifically authoritative. His insistence on the primarily poetic, literary nature of Hawaiian tradition obscured insights into the ways in which Hawaiians understood their island world. For them, traditional accounts were profoundly connected to the narration of Hawaiian history and had ongoing resonance in contemporary politics and society.

By denying the relevance of Hawaiian lore as a historical source, Emerson partook in the efforts of his fellow mission children and grandchildren to undermine the indigenous population and to lay their own claims to dominance. This position would become most visibly expressed by the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893 and the annexation of the islands to the United States in 1898.

Emerson and other mission descendants also shared an uncertain identity, caught between Hawaiian birth and American “civilization.” The fact that these architects of American empire in Hawai‘i experienced such uncertainties suggests to me that the foundations of American empire in the Pacific were often shaky. In the end, it made me wonder if we should understand American imperialism as something other than all-powerful or inevitable.

A page of Emerson’s unpublished and undated essay “General Remarks on Translation.”           Image courtesy of The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.  

Tom Smith is an AHRC Funded PhD Student, based at the University of Cambridge.  Tom wrote this Blog, whilst based at the Huntington Library, as part of the AHRC’s International Placement Scheme.  This text and allied images appear courtesy of and with gracious thanks to Kevin Durkin, Editor of Verso.

The post originally appeared in Verso, the blog of The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Collections, and the original post can be viewed here: http://huntingtonblogs.org/2017/05/born-and-raised-in-hawaii/

The International Placement Scheme opens the door to research, and new experiences. 2018 Applications open until January 25th 2018.

For queries regarding applications for this year’s scheme, please contact Ian Howard at AHRC i.howard@ahrc.ac.uk or telephone +441793 416095

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A Sestina for the Huntington

In this latest Guest Blog, Thomas Tyrrell talks about his experience of the AHRC International Placement Scheme, and ultimately, his “Sestina for the Huntington”.

On my first day at the Huntington Library, Los Angeles, I was allocated a shelf for my books beneath a bust of Lord Byron. Madly jet-lagged but wide-eyed and vibrating on American coffee, I was here on the AHRC international placement scheme, which gives British PhD students the chance to travel abroad and access collections they couldn’t reach on their own budgets.

A bust of George Gordon, Lord Byron, from the Ahrmanson Reading Room in the Munger Research Centre - Photo Credit Thomas Tyrrell

A bust of George Gordon, Lord Byron, from the Ahrmanson Reading Room in the Munger Research Centre – Photo Credit Thomas Tyrrell

After a previous fellowship at the Chawton House Library, Hampshire, I had thanked my hosts with a country house poem. Suitably inspired by Byron, I set myself the challenge of writing a poem for the Huntington. To make things difficult for myself, I chose a sestina, an unusually difficult poetic form where the same six words are repeated in new orders in every verse. That meant that these six words had to be important—they had to embody my experience. These are the six I chose.

Library. Understandably, this was where I spent most of my time. Henry Huntington, one of the richest millionaires of the Gatsby age, had inherited a railroad fortune and built a property fortune on top of it. Much of this cash had been splashed in buying up wholesale the libraries of impecunious English aristocrats, or of other book collectors. I largely spent my time on early atlases and eighteenth-century poetry, but treasures of the library included Gutenberg bibles, first editions of William Blake and a beautifully illuminated Chaucer manuscript.

The Rothenberg Reading Room in the Huntington Library. Photo Credit - Thomas Tyrrell

The Rothenberg Reading Room in the Huntington Library. Photo Credit – Thomas Tyrrell

Garden. The greatest attraction for the Huntington’s ordinary visitors, however, were the acres of botanical gardens, which showcased a vast variety of flora and landscaping techniques, from the stillness of the Chinese and Japanese gardens to the baroque labyrinth of the cacti garden. It was more than possible to go for a quick stroll after lunch and lose yourself for the rest of the afternoon.

A bridge in the Japanese garden at the Huntingdon Library. Photo Credit - Thomas Tyrrell

A bridge in the Japanese garden at the Huntington Library. Photo Credit – Thomas Tyrrell

Art. Among the various galleries of American and European art in the Huntington grounds, one could find a William Morris stained glass window, a painting by Edward Hopper that used to hang (in reproduction) above the fireplace at my parents house and even a bust of John Milton, the key author of my thesis. When I was stuck, I used to go and gaze into his eyes for insight. He had a remarkably sympathetic expression.

Mountains. Waking up in a brand new place, the peak of Mount Wilson to the north made a great impression on me. They were a constant presence through the trip, towering above the parking lots of the Huntington, a reminder of the greater wilderness in tension with the immense urban sprawl of Los Angeles.

Window. American air-conditioning took some getting used to, but I was grateful for it when the temperature hit thirty degrees in February. As I looked out over the sun-baked gardens from the cool, climate-controlled archive spaces, it felt like looking into another world, and I tried to build that sense of slightly uncanny transition into the poem.

Move. I needed a verb to effect a transition between these elements, and stop the poem from falling into an elegant stasis. Something as simple as possible—I considered ‘walk’, ‘pass’, and ‘go’, but I found ‘move’ to be the most adaptable to my purpose.

The Munger Research Centre, where I conducted my research. Photo Credit - Thomas Tyrrell

The Munger Research Centre, where I conducted my research. Photo Credit – Thomas Tyrrell

Then I sat down and wrote.

Huntington Library Sestina by Thomas Tyrrell

The city sprawls out shoreward from the mountains,
Grids grafted to the plain by strength of art:
The craftsman’s skill that makes and frames the window,
With the persistence that sustains the garden
In times of drought; the eloquence to move
A people with the vision of a library.

It’s cool and still and silent in the library,
Where books inform me of the distant mountains:
How hawks and lizards and coyote move
Over a wilderness no human art
Can tame into a farmstead or a garden.
Beneath my eye the page becomes a window.

The world is beckoning beyond the window.
So from the studious pleasures of the library
I go to seek out nature in the garden.
Sheltered in the wind-shadow of the mountains,
The shoots sprout strongly, methodised by art
Which guides their courses as they grow and move.

When down the garden’s winding paths I move
I see far-distant lands as through a window,
The world’s arboreal and floral art
Arranged to form a vast botanic library.
Raked gravel and old stones encompass mountains
And oceans in the stillness of the garden.

The noon-day sun beats down upon the garden
And sweat rolls down my forehead as I move.
Against the cloudless blue horizon, mountains
Stand stark as cut-outs. Wishing for a window
On cooler air, too restless for the library
I go to walk the galleries of art.

The mind and hand combine in making art,
More than in writing books or tending garden.
There’s nothing that could tell me in the library
Quite how a pigment-loaded brush can move
Over an empty canvas, now a window
On men and women, palaces and mountains.

Here is great art with power to awe and move,
A library with all the world its window,
A garden in the shelter of the mountains.

(c) Thomas Tyrell

Thomas Tyrrell gazing at a bust in the Huntingdon Art Gallery - Photo Credit Thomas' Mum

Thomas Tyrrell gazing at a bust in the Huntington Art Gallery – Photo Credit, Kathryn Tyrrell


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Dance, Manhood and Warfare Amongst the Acholi People of Northern Uganda.

Read this latest Blog Post by Lucy Taylor, an AHRC Kluge Fellow who worked on War and Masculinity in Uganda at the Library of Congress during 2016.

The post is re-published with kind permission from the John Kluge Centre at the Library of Congress.  They are one of the AHRC’s partner organisations who provide placements via the AHRC International Placement Scheme for AHRC fellows around the world.  Its the 4th such Blog from Kluge.

The Library of Congress holds some of the richest material concerning
African dance in the world. One of the most interesting collections−comprising
photographs, sound recordings, motion pictures, fieldwork notes and relevant
articles−was donated by Judith Hanna based on her research in Africa during the
early post-colonial period.
Dance represents a fundamental part of the Acholi people’s cultural
heritage. The Acholi, a Nilotic Lwo-speaking ethnic group, reside predominantly
in the central region of northern Uganda, an area collectively referred to as
Acholiland. Before embarking on my fellowship at the John W. Kluge Center my
efforts to access pre-colonial indigenous Acholi perceptions concerning
manhood and warfare for my doctoral research had largely focused on lingual
cultural forms that facilitate the oral transmission of knowledge, such as songs,
proverbs and folktales. It was only after I began to explore the Judith Hanna
collection at the Library of Congress that I started to truly appreciate the
importance of dance for transferring knowledge between generations within a
number of African cultures and societies.

Photograph courtesy of the Judith Hanna Collection, Library of Congress. Picturing Acholi men dancing the Larakaraka in 1963

Photograph courtesy of the Judith Hanna Collection, Library of Congress. Picturing Acholi
men dancing the Larakaraka in 1963

The Larakaraka was an Acholi courtship dance that granted young men
the opportunity to demonstrate their dancing prowess and physical vigor in the
hope of securing a marriage partner. As Okot p’bitek, a famous Acholi poet,
suggested in his ‘Song of Lawino’, young women used to judge and assess
prospective partners based on their skill and endurance in the dancing arena.1

‘A man’s manliness is seen in the arena’
‘All parts of the body
Are shown in the arena!
Health and liveliness,
Are shown in the arena!’ 2

During the Larakaraka the young men danced in a semi-circle with their legs
interlocked whilst singing short repetitive songs. They adorned ostrich or cock
feathers on their heads and carried calabashes in their left hands. The young
women danced silently facing the men until the moko stage, when each woman
would identify her preferred male of choice, push him out of the semi-circle and
the young couple would retreat to a quiet spot to become better acquainted.3
However dancing the Larakaraka not only provided individuals with a chance to
excel amongst their counterparts, but the scripted moves, costumes and
instruments employed also reproduced and conveyed to the audience
appropriate gendered roles and behaviours.

Dance embodied an important instrument for education within Acholiland and a platform whereby accepted behavioral patterns and socially constructed norms and values were
demonstrated and disseminated. Although important to consider the extent to
which concepts are exaggerated within dance, sometimes for entertainment
purposes, dances such as the Larakaraka can help provide us with a better
understanding of what was admired and celebrated in terms of masculinity and
femininity in pre-colonial Acholi society.

Courtesy of The Nigrizia,1932, (Comboni Missionary Magazine). Picturing dancers preparing for the Otole

Courtesy of The Nigrizia,1932, (Comboni Missionary Magazine). Picturing dancers preparing for the Otole

Before the onset of warfare, or during important occasions organized at the
call of a chief, the Otole, a physically tiring dance involving mock fights, repetitive
jumping and running back and forth around the arena, was often performed.4
Men wore leopard hides, ostrich plumes to decorate their heads, and carried
spears and shields whilst women carried a lukile, a small axe.

The Otole dance, or war dance as it also now known, served a number of
complementary functions. The vigorous and energetic movements helped
physically prepare men for the demands of fighting, whilst the sequences
performed during the mock fights instructed men on formation patterns,
advance and retreat strategies alongside the manner of attacking and defending
with a spear and shield.5

In addition to this, the Otole served to emotionally prepare men for

violent encounters, acting as a mechanism for motivation and encouragement,

and for inciting military courage and confidence. The Otole further enhanced the

men’s combat readiness through eliciting popular support,and sanctioning the use

of violence and normally inappropriate behavior within the context of warfare.6

Thus, although trauma is rarely considered during discussions of pre-colonial African warfare, I would argue mechanisms such as the Otole dance, through freeing men of guilt or regret, helped further emotionally prepare men for war by relieving or reducing the psychological impact of participation in violence.

Thus, although trauma is rarely considered during discussions of pre-colonial African warfare, I would argue mechanisms such as
the Otole dance, through freeing men of guilt or regret, helped further emotionally prepare men for war by relieving or reducing the psychological
impact of participation in violence.

Courtesy of the Hesketh Bell Collection, 1906-1909, (Y3011C), Cambridge University Library

Courtesy of the Hesketh Bell Collection, 1906-1909, (Y3011C), Cambridge University Library

The Judith Hanna collection is remarkable in terms of the variety of
resources it includes and its references to ethnic groups that were relatively
marginalized within other research projects in the early post-colonial period,
notably, the Acholi. The collection provided me with a wealth of knowledge and
theoretical understanding concerning dance in Africa, and challenged me to
further explore specific Acholi dances, such as the Larakaraka and the Otole, in
relation to masculine identities and warfare during my own fieldwork in
northern Uganda.

Those working at the American Folklife Centre, where the Judith Hanna
Collection is housed, could not have been more helpful; if it was not for their
enthusiasm and dedication to disseminating this valuable collection, I would
never have been able to extract such rich data from it. In particular the
photographs and motion picture featuring Acholi dances, of which the staff
kindly provided me copies, are helping me question whether the imagery or
symbolism embedded within these dances was susceptible to individual
interpretation depending on varying life trajectories. Additionally by showing
this material to elderly Acholi people, I have the unique opportunity to gauge
their opinion concerning how dance has evolved and adapted over time. The
importance of the Library of Congress as a repository of cultural history in a
rapidly changing and often poorly documented world has never been more
apparent to me.

My fellowship at the John W. Kluge Center was facilitated and funded by the
AHRC through the International Placement Scheme. This support not only helped
me gain access to unique resources and pursue new areas of interest in relation
to my doctoral research, but importantly the scheme also granted me the
opportunity to forge significant contacts, and explore potential collaboration
opportunities for the future. Notably my forthcoming visit to Columbia
University to work under Associate Professor Rhiannon Stephens came as a
direct consequence of my research at the Kluge Center and the invaluable
conversations I had with other academics working at the Library regarding
innovative methodologies for researching pre-colonial African history.

 

1 Judith Hanna, Dance, Sex and Gender: Signs of Identity, Dominance, Defiance, and
Desire (The university of Chicago Press: Chicago, 1988), pp.4-5.

2 Okot p’bitek, Song of Lawino (East African Publishing House: Nairobi, 1966)
p33-34.
3 Okumu pa’ Lukobo, ‘Acholi Dance and Dance Songs’. Uganda Journal, Vol. 35,
1971, pp.55-61, (p.55).

4 Okumu pa’ Lukobo, ‘Acholi Dance and Dance Songs’. Uganda Journal, Vol. 35,
1971, pp.55-61, (p.55-56).
5 Judith Hanna, ‘African Dance and the Warrior Tradition’. Journal of Asian and
African Studies, XII, 1-4, pp.111-133, (p.114).
6 Judith Hanna, ‘African Dance and the Warrior Tradition’. Journal of Asian and
African Studies, XII, 1-4, pp.111-133, (p.115-119).


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The Sounds of Strange Phenomena: An IPS Fellowship at the International Research Centre for Japanese Studies

The stunning seasonal changes at Nichibunken. Photo Courtesy of Hannah Bayley

The stunning seasonal changes at Nichibunken. Photo Courtesy of Hannah Bayley

In this latest Guest Blog, Hannah Bayley, International Placement Scheme Fellow, reflects on her experiences of the IPS Scheme and time at the International Research Centre for Japanese Studies, (part of the wider NIHU (National Institutions for Humanities) in Kyoto, Japan.

Writing a doctoral thesis often triggers moments of reflection. Sat in a dedicated creative writing session at Keele on a particularly grey foggy Thursday morning I found myself looking out of the window and thinking how the weather and the damp atmosphere provided the perfect conditions in which one might expect to meet a yūrei (The most common Japanese term for ghost, roughly translated as dim spirit). This kind of meeting was something I half expected to experience while sitting in the library of the International Research Centre for Japanese Studies during my AHRC International placement, head bent over publications strewn with images of Japanese spirits and descriptions of ghostly sounds.

The stunning seasonal changes at Nichibunken. Photo Courtesy of Hannah Bayley

The stunning seasonal changes at Nichibunken. Photo Courtesy of Hannah Bayley

I never met a spirit in that library. However, I did leave my five-month fellowship with a wealth of ideas focused on distinctly Japanese representations of sonic haunting that have fruitfully shaped the course of my doctoral thesis. I am currently in the writing up stage of my PhD which offers a reconceptualization of the roles of sound and music in Japanese ‘ghost’ film, and how that differs from other traditions elsewhere in the world, especially considering the number of American J-horror remakes that have emerged.

I can recall two months into my PhD at Keele University receiving an email from the Music postgraduate mailing list and my efforts to carefully assess which of the six inter-university institutes that make up the National Institutes for the Humanities in Japan would be right for me. As an institute with an emphasis on comparative studies and cultural exchange the International Research Centre for Japanese Studies, or Nichibunken (日文研) was well suited to my project. Further research on the host website confirmed this, as I would have direct contact with a wealth of relevant resources on filmic, literary and theatrical traditions. Pre-fellowship I had read and accessed some of their special digital databases online. Once at Nichibunken the library staff were incredibly helpful, providing guidance on how to access a number of items in print form. I was able to view unique visual materials from the collections of Paintings of Strange Phenomena and Yōkai (Ghosts, Monsters, Spirits) and the Database for Folktales of Strange Phenomena and Yōkai (Ghosts, Monsters, Spirits). The library also had a number of microfiche collections and I retrieved cuttings from the Prange collection, publications (books, periodicals, pamphlets, newspapers), documents, posters, etc. that were censored during the Allied occupation of Japan between 1945 and 1952. Articles retrieved were all reports on cinema and film music, mainly screen guides from this period of restriction in journalism. Most of the documents were in Japanese but I was granted permission to take away photocopies for future translation work.

Admittedly, I had one concern when I applied to the fellowship and that was the Japanese language level requirement. As someone who has obtained a certificate of Japanese language competency it still did not inspire a lot of confidence in me, but there was no Japanese language skills requirement for Nichibunken, and it never posed that big an obstacle as there was always help on hand and a large proportion of the library resources are in English. Support was provided by the Research Centre’s staff, visiting researchers, and students, and especially by my host supervisor, Professor Hosokawa Shuhei, who introduced me to a number of research contacts. I was encouraged to develop both my research and language skills by attending monthly seminars in English and Japanese, as well as the International Research Symposium hosted at Nichibunken, and the Sokendai (The Graduate University for Advanced Studies, Osaka) Cultural 2014 Forum. I presented an early version of my analysis of transnational adaptation in the music and sound design of Ju-on: The Grudge and its remake The Grudge at the Kyoto-Nara EU Association English club.

Yutate Kagura ritual dance and purification ceremony, Jōnangū shrine, Kyoto.

Yutate Kagura ritual dance and purification ceremony, Jōnangū shrine, Kyoto.                             Photo Courtesy of Hannah Bayley

My first-hand experiences of several Japanese performing art forms from ancient court music and dance (Gagaku) to traditional puppet theatre (Bunraku), and traditional theatre forms such as Noh and Kabuki, would not have been possible without being awarded my fellowship. One of the most illuminating moments was actually being able to take part in a workshop on butoh, an avant-garde dance form that originated after World War II. The class was led by acclaimed choreographer and dancer Ima Tenko, whose performances I had attended earlier in my placement. Never underestimate the power of networking, anywhere! I began attending services at St. Agnes church in Kyoto, where I played the organ for a few services. There, I met a conservator of Japanese paintings who introduced me directly to a research contact at the International Noh Institute (INI). I was advised on performances and arranged to sit in on a rehearsal led by the Kongō School Master-Actor Udaka Michishige, leader of the INI.

 

These immersive opportunities have transformed my understanding of the unique sonic practice of Japanese performing arts. To be able to examine culturally specific traditions of supernatural and horrific representations in the Japanese arts and how they have shaped examples of sonic practice in Japanese film within the ‘field’ has enriched my understanding beyond the scope of anything I expected. My time at Nichibunken has equipped me with the original scholarly foundations required for my doctoral thesis and helped me to shape the various cultural, social and artistic contexts for a research paper I had begun working on, which will be published in 2018. Thanks to the support of staff at Nichibunken I was also able to contact figures in the Japanese film industry ‘in country’ and travelled to interview three prominent film and video game composers; Shimizu Hiromi, Kawai Kenji (pictured) and Ashiya Gary.

Meeting Kawai Kenji at his studio in Tokyo. Photo Courtesy of Hannah Bayley

Meeting Kawai Kenji at his studio in Tokyo. Photo Courtesy of Hannah Bayley

During my placement, I liked the fact that I had the option to live alongside other researchers at the centre in a self-contained apartment in Nichibunken House. A nearby supermarket, post office, bank and on-site restaurant at the institute were all conveniently located. A short walk away was what quickly became one of my favourite ramen restaurants. Transportation was very reliable and frequent, especially the bus services, as Kyoto city itself is roughly a 30-minute drive away from the western edge of the city, where Nichibunken is situated. Arashiyama, Osaka and Nara are also easy to reach and of course the famous shinkansen (bullet train) was convenient for travel to places such as Nagoya and Tokyo, especially with a Japan rail pass. Being a big foodie, I was more than happy to sample some of the famous Kyo-wagashi (Kyoto sweets), Yatsuhashi (red bean paste confectionary), and of course experience the Japanese tea ceremony, which I attended frequently. I was even trained in the Way of Tea (Chadō, Sadō or Chanoyu, literally “Hot Water for Tea”).

Aspects of Japanese culture: match tea ceremony lesson, Tō-ji Temple’s five-storey pagoda- the tallest wooden tower in Japan, and the Noh theatre stage. Photos Courtesy of Hannah Bayley

Aspects of Japanese culture: Match tea ceremony lesson, Tō-ji Temple’s five-storey pagoda- Tallest wooden tower in Japan, and the Noh theatre stage.                                                                                                                      Photos Courtesy of Hannah Bayley

Kyoto inspired me with its wealth of beautifully preserved temples, shrines, rock gardens, the former imperial palace grounds, and I didn’t miss any chances to attend the city’s festivals and illumination events. I will treasure my many walks around Kyoto reflecting on the connections of nature, animism and the supernatural in film music, whilst appreciating the beauty of viewing both the colourful maple leaves of autumn (koyo/momiji) and the first buds of the cherry blossom (sakura) season, which were often accompanied by the telling of a tale from Japanese folkore.

I am so thankful that I spied an opportunity in an AHRC email, and applied for the IPS. The fellowship has enhanced my knowledge of Japanese ghost and horror traditions through the ages in ways that have enabled me to develop fresh approaches to the criticism of films, scores and soundtracks. The impact of my placement has allowed me to develop the leading-edge expertise that I hope will open many doors as I seek post-PhD academic employment.

And who knows? Maybe I will return to Nichibunken one day and encounter a spirit or two.

 

 


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AHRC International Placement Scheme Twitter Chat

On 5th January 2017, between 1430-1600hrs, AHRC is hosting an International Placement Scheme (IPS) Twitter Chat.

There will be the opportunity to:

  • Ask questions of IPS Alumini
  • Get answers on Application Queries for 2017
  • Obtain guidance on Policy.

Anything that cannot be answered will be responded to within a few days.

Details of the Twitter Chat can  be found on the events page.

Further IPS scheme information is located on the website.

 

 


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How a Scholar Uses Her Ph.D. to Combat Global Corruption

This is the 2nd posting from the The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress.  With kind thanks and permission of Jason Steinhauer and ESRC.

In 2012 and 2013, Nieves Zúñiga was an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Fellow at The John W. Kluge Center, researching a project titledIndigenous Struggles over Recognition in Bolivia: Contesting Evo Morales’s Discourse of Internal Decolonization.” Today, she is putting her knowledge of Bolivian society to use as part of the EU-funded project Anticorruption Policies Revisited. Global Trends and European Responses to the Challenge of Corruption (ANTICORRP), examining anti-corruption policies in Bolivia and Rwanda. She talks with Jason Steinhauer about how her scholarship has informed her current work.

Hi Nieves. Welcome back to the Kluge Center. Refresh our memory: what was the subject of your research when you were here years ago?

When I came to the Kluge Center as an ESRC Fellow, I was a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Government at the University of Essex in the United Kingdom. My thesis was about the recognition of indigenous peoples in Bolivia. I was analyzing the discourse that the government of President Evo Morales was using to recognize indigenous peoples and how indigenous peoples were responding to that recognition.

What had been the status of indigenous people in Bolivia prior to his administration?

Indigenous peoples in Bolivia, as well as in other countries in Latin America and in the world, have struggled to get their rights recognized. President Morales recognized them at different levels. Foremost, he recognized their right of self-determination. This is a key right that indigenous people claim but states are reluctant to grant because it involves potential conflicts surrounding land and natural resources. As well, he turned the nation state into a multi-national state, meaning that indigenous autonomies are constitutionally acknowledged as legal political forms of organization, indigenous languages enjoy the same official status as Spanish, and an indigenous flag is now a national symbol.

However, despite the answer that these acknowledgements represent to historical indigenous demands, several indigenous leaders remain dissatisfied with these changes. My thesis provides a political explanation of why the recognition of cultural diversity in Bolivia has fallen short. My argument is that the indigenous dissatisfaction can be explained by the divergence between the discourses of the state and of indigenous struggles. The cultural recognition granted by Morales is based on an essentialist idealization of indigenous identity that does not correspond with reality. One of the indigenous leaders that I interviewed told me that before indigenous people could not participate in politics because they were thought to be inferior, and now they are considered pure and they are forced to maintain that pure image, which is another form of control. I suggest that this tension reveals a different understanding of what decolonization and recognition mean, not only between the Bolivian government and the indigenous peoples, but also among indigenous peoples in the highlands and the lowlands.

What did you find at the Library that helped you understand these issues?

I found lots of literature of Bolivia before Morales and during Morales’s time. And something really interesting is that I found many pamphlets from Bolivian social movements and local authorities—materials that are quite difficult to find in the field because you have to gather them from across different regions. However, I found them here concentrated all in one place, which was very helpful.

Nieves Zuniga

ESRC Fellow Nieves Zuniga conducting fieldwork in Rwanda, July 2016. Photo provided by the scholar, used with permission.

So following completion of your thesis, where did you go?

After my PhD I continued working in Bolivia. My project now is on anti-corruption policies. Since 2014 I am research fellow at the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham for the project ANTICORRP funded by the European Union. The main objective of the project is to examine why some anti-corruption policies work, and others don’t. We are twenty multidisciplinary research groups in fifteen EU countries working on identifying factors that promote or hinder the implementation of effective anti-corruption policies.

At the University of Nottingham, together with the Developmental Leadership Program at the University of Birmingham, we are doing a comparative analysis between the anti-corruption policies in Bolivia and Rwanda. Even though Bolivia and Rwanda appear to be very different, they have interesting similarities in the way they understand corruption. For both of them the problem of corruption stems from colonialism. The solution, therefore, is to reconnect with indigenous and pre-colonial values and institutions. Our approach is to see how the promotion of integrity and values can play a role in anti-corruption in combination with a compliance approach, and both countries place an emphasis on values and ethics as key tools to fight corruption.

However, it’s very interesting to see how they are getting different results. Anti-corruption is one of the most celebrated achievements of Rwanda in the last years, whereas in Bolivia the negative perception on the levels of corruption has hardly improved. In Rwanda, the education in values is a continual activity and they use diverse formal and informal mechanisms to reach the different groups of the society, which explains, among other political and historical factors, a change in attitudes toward corruption. In Bolivia, activities regarding educating citizens against corruption are sporadic and isolated and, in reality, there is a prioritization of regulatory codes and compliance over values that prevents to change a mindset that condemns corruption in theory but tolerates it in practice.

How does your Ph.D. thesis, and your research at the Kluge Center, provide insight for your current project?

For me it was really good to have the background on Bolivia coming from my Ph.D. It helped me to contextualize the anti-corruption policy that Morales’s government is trying to implement and to better understand the response of the society. For example, one of the pillars of the anti-corruption policy is to increase the participation of civil society in monitoring the government. My previous knowledge about the tensions among social movements and their relationship with the government has helped me to understand some of the struggles and limitations of the policy, in particular, regarding the value and challenges for an effective social accountability

What will be the end result of your current work?

The main product will be a report on the promotion of integrity in fighting corruption. We propose to move the debate from fighting corruption to promoting integrity in public management. Everybody believes that integrity is good and necessary, but very few know how to define it, and even less how to implement it. With this report we try to provide an operational definition of integrity and ideas for its practical implementation in public institutions. This report will be presented to policy-makers, public officials and practitioners in the EU and other international contexts.

Another main product will be the comparative analysis of the anti-corruption policies in Bolivia and Rwanda, and more in-depth papers on each case. I recently presented a preliminary analysis in the OpenGov Hub in Washington, D.C. on what is working in anti-corruption with successful examples from Rwanda and the municipal government of Juan del Granado in La Paz, an exception in Bolivia. It was nice to see in the audience Ronald MacLean Abaroa, former mayor of La Paz who has done a lot of work on anti-corruption, meet him personally, and talk further over coffee.

What does the future hold for you—what role do you see for yourself moving forward?

My future will hopefully involve doing something that is a bridge between the intellectual world and pragmatic results. I want to do research, coordinate projects and work in teams to make a positive impact in society. This is what I really want to do.

Nieves also added a final comment on the International Placement Scheme:

To have the Economic and Social Research Council ESRC/AHRC fellowship to do research at the Kluge Centre in the Library of Congress was fantastic for many different reasons.

During my PhD I had to divide my time between working on my dissertation and doing other jobs to help myself financially, like being Graduate Teacher Assistant and note-taker for students with disabilities. Both of them were great personal and professional experiences and they also meant extra effort on my PhD thesis. To have three months during the summer fully funded by the ESRC/AHRC to focus only on my research meant the paradise to me. Moreover, it gave me the opportunity to be part of one of the most fascinating places for the intellectual brain. The Library of Congress, and the Kluge Centre in particular, is fantastic not only because of the resources they have –imagine being the biggest library in the world!-, but because of the possibility that offers to interact with scholars from different countries and fields. To be part of such intellectually stimulating environment allowed me to learn from different topics such as graffitis in Pompeya, medieval maps, Mongolia, the history of money or social movements in a digital era, and also to look at my own research with fresher eyes. I have to add that Washington DC is a fantastic and beautiful city. Full of cultural opportunities, friendly people, and sun! I loved living there, and as Spaniard I can deal pretty good with the hot weather.

I brought many things from my time at the Kluge. It opened to me professional opportunities otherwise impossible to have. And to meet the staff at the Kluge and the LOC was great. They are really welcoming and helpful, and the contact with some of them have developed in friendships that last until today. I go back to the Kluge whenever I am in DC and it stills feels like home.

I really recommend applying to this fellowship. If I could, I would do it again!

 

More information on the 2017 Scheme can be found via the website.

 


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Annotated almanacs in the Huntington Library

Cacti Gardens at the Huntingdon. Courtesy of Catherine Evans

Cacti Gardens at the Huntingdon. Courtesy of Catherine Evans

In this latest International Placement Scheme (IPS) Blog, Catherine Evans, an IPS Fellow, talks “Annonated Almanacs”.

I didn’t start a PhD to see the world. However, I must have had Dr. Seuss floating around my head when I heard about the AHRC International Placement Scheme: “the more you read the more you will know, the more that you learn the more places you’ll go”. A call to always scour departmental emails perhaps? Whatever it is, I’m glad that Seuss spurred me to apply for the IPS scheme. I was lucky enough to be awarded a four-month fellowship at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. The Huntington is one of the largest research libraries in North America, specialising particularly in the English Renaissance. With collections of over 420,000 rare books, and 7 million manuscripts, I assumed that this would be a daunting and challenging place to work. However, the last four months I have spent working at the Huntington have shown me that the most imposing of institutions can also be extremely welcoming.

I began my PhD around a year ago, moving to the University of Sheffield to study with Emma Rhatigan and Marcus Nevitt. My thesis examines the sensory experience of time in early religious literature from 1530-1660. Critics have often asserted that the early modern period was characterised by a drastic change in the perception of time, moving from a cyclical understanding of the calendar marked by religious festivals to a linear, proto-capitalist progression. My project seeks to nuance this construction, considering how early modern authors and divines engaged the senses in their approach to temporally inflected religious problems, such as predestination and the conditions of bodily resurrection.

Chinese gardens at the Huntington . Courtesy of Catherine Evans

Chinese gardens at the Huntington . Courtesy of Catherine Evans

Whilst at the Huntington, I have taken a break from looking at early modern psalm translations and sermons to undertake a focused survey of the library’s holdings of annotated almanacs. This was the first piece of focused archival research I have carried out, so I was somewhat apprehensive about how best to start. However, the curators at the library were incredibly helpful and giving of their time. They talked me through the various finding aids, and even ran searches using a staff only online catalogue to help me identify all the almanacs with annotations within the collection. I’d be expecting to find evidence within the almanacs of how people organised their time, assuming that this form would lend itself to creating a more ordered, linear view of the progression of time. However, in the process of my research I found that almanacs paradoxically offered a space in which to pleat the fabric of time, with annotators often writing against the books’ projected uses.

Page from T. Hill 1571 almanac, with zodiacal man. Courtesy of Catherine Evans

Page from T. Hill 1571 almanac, with zodiacal man. Courtesy of Catherine Evans

Although the collections were extremely engrossing, the excitement of LA and beauty of California were too great to resist, and I’m happy that I made the most of my time in the area to explore further. Weekend trips to San Diego, the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas with other fellows were a highlight, as well as visiting Yosemite and exploring the beaches of Orange County. Although LA can be a tricky city to navigate, being here for such an extended period of time meant that it was easy to get to know different neighbourhoods. Although the Huntington is based in San Marino, the majority of fellows live in Alhambra or Pasadena, only a few miles away from Echo Park (the Peckham of LA, according to a man met in an arcade game bar) and Highland Park, home to Donut Friend, which became a weekly fixture! LA is also overflowing with museums and galleries, ranging from monumental LACMA to the tiny yet moving Museum of Broken Relationships.

The IPS fellows were warmly welcomed into the research community at the library, with Steve Hindle and Catherine Wehrey-Miller both working hard to include us in events and help us make the most of our trips. Whilst I was in residence, I was able to attend two fantastic, wide-ranging conferences: Ben Jonson 1616-2016, and Early Modern Literary Geographies. There was also a busy programme of Brown Bag talks, monthly seminars by the USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute, and public lectures. These were a great opportunity to expand my academic horizons. It’s easy to become very insular whilst working on a thesis, but meeting other academics and grad student working on topics from LA bibliographic history to the pre-history of photography, and discussing their work made me more aware of the connections that can exist between the most unlikely sounding subjects.

8 of the AHRC fellows with Steve Hindle, Director of Research at the Huntington . Courtesy of Martha Benedict

8 of the AHRC fellows with Steve Hindle, Director of Research at the Huntington . Courtesy of Martha Benedict

Although the archival work I did at the Huntington was fascinating, and will form a cornerstone of my thesis, making personal connections and becoming a part of such a vibrant and stimulating community of scholars was also extremely beneficial. Un-official readers’ happy hour gave an opportunity to sample all the bars of Pasadena and Tuesday tea breaks created an occasion to chat shop over cookies and coffee. Other fellows and visitors to the library were extremely generous with their time, making suggestions of different avenues to explore, books to read, and people to contact. Presenting my work at one of the lunch time talks was a daunting but worthwhile experience, as I was able get feedback from scholars with a wealth of knowledge about early modern religious practice.

Leaving the UK shortly after the referendum results, and being in the US for the Presidential election added a bittersweet edge to the placement. I am extremely privileged to be able to travel so freely with my work: the combination of a British passport, an inoffensive research project, and an eminent host organisation easing my way. It feels as though these opportunities, to connect with people from all over the world and help form new, if transient, communities will be increasingly rare both within academia and in all walks of life. I had some extremely heartening discussions, with academics from all over the world, who shared how their own careers and lives have been shaped by taking part in international fellowships. I can only hope that I will be able to heed their advice, and always remember the importance of reaching out to visitors and creating supportive communities wherever I go in my future career.

For me, this fellowship will surely rank as one of the highlights of my doctoral experience. Living in a beautiful pool house on a road where wild peacocks roam, cycling in the sun each morning to work in a wood-panelled library surrounded by 120 acres of immaculately manicured gardens, discounted coffee and tacos on site… All this made a welcome change from the normal PhD life of running between library and seminars in the rain, clutching a carrier bag full of books to your chest to ward off evil spirits. Most importantly, I was able to extend my academic horizons and produce some new research using little studied material. Oh, and get a fabulous tan.

 

Lake Tioga. Yosemite. Courtesy of Catherine Evans

Lake Tioga. Yosemite. Courtesy of Catherine Evans

This year’s round of the International Placement Scheme (IPS) is now open for applications. Please see the AHRC website for more information (http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/funding/opportunities/current/international-placement-scheme-2017/)

The IPS scheme is an annual programme providing Research Fellowships to AHRC/ESRC-funded doctoral students, early career researchers and doctoral-level research assistants.  The IPS scheme offers dedicated access to the internationally renowned collections/ programmes/ expertise held at seven world-leading, international institutions:

Harry Ransom Center (HRC), The University of Texas at Austin, USA

The Huntington Library, California, USA

The Library of Congress (LoC), Washington DC, USA

National Institutes for the Humanities (NIHU), Japan

Shanghai Theatre Academy (STA), Shanghai, China

Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA

The Yale Center for British Art (YCBA), Connecticut, USA