AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 637

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Session 637: Imagining the Other

Asian Americans and the U.S. Military
William Wei, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA

This paper will provide an historical overview and analysis of the participation of Asians and Asian Americans in the U.S. military, with special attention to the service of Japanese Americans and Chinese Americans in World War II and the Cold War.

Asian Cultural Psychologies and Their Problematics
Alan Roland, Independent Scholar, USA

Asian cultural psychologies are full of pitfalls, often related to using Western psychological theories and methodologies, which Clifford Geertz first noted. Since Geertz, more sophisticated cultural psychologies have emerged and can be viewed from different perspectives, such as evolutionism, universalism, and relativism. Sudhir Kakar's (Indian psychoanalyst) cultural psychology perceptively delineates Indian psychological makeup as different from Westerners, but then sees it as inferior, implicitly accepting social evolutionism where the Western psyche is superior. Catherine Ewing's (anthropologist, psychoanalyst) cultural psychology emphasizes cultures profoundly affecting behavior but asserts the inner psychological world is universally the same, a problematic position. Takeo Doi's (Japanese psychoanalyst) cultural psychology embodies relativism where he discards psychoanalytic theory but uses a psychoanalytic sensibility to delineate Japanese linguistic terms and the Japanese psyche. With few categories to cross cultures, it inhibits comparative analyses. Since the experiential we-self of Asians varies considerably with each relationship, in contrast to the Western individualistic I-self, Gananath Obeyesekere (anthropologist) and Ewing view Western psychoanalytic theories of the self as far too integrated. Obeyesekere opts for a Buddhist formulation of an ever-changing self, while Ewing turns to DeLeuze's decentered self. This inhibits comparative analyses as well as missing the presence of a highly private self. Asian cultural psychologies based on scientific research methodologies has been strongly critiqued by Pittu Laungani (Indian English psychologist) as not addressing major issues. My own resolution for Asian cultural psychologies paradoxically integrates contextually relevant clinical observations in each Asian culture with universal categories of the psyche, seeing their different configurations.

Japanese Soldiers on Chinese TV: Moral Panics and Social Control
Amanda Weiss, University of Tokyo, USA

This paper examines contemporary representations of Japanese soldiers on Chinese television. In the first part, the paper summarizes and analyzes the historical representation of the Japanese soldier in Chinese media from the 1930’s-1990’s, outlining the different patterns and political usages of such representations. The paper then narrows its focus to three popular Chinese television series made in the past ten years, identifying the ways in which new representations of Japanese soldiers differ from previous patterns. Utilizing post-colonial theory and moral panic theory as a theoretical basis, the paper will employ surveys and content analysis of mainland Chinese audience reactions to suggest that the depiction of Japanese soldiers on Chinese television fulfills two main roles. On a surface level, such representations appear to serve as political tools for creating “moral panics” and redirecting public dissent (and international attention) towards the perceived “unrepentant” Japanese colonizer and thus away from local political concerns. On a further level, they reflect Chinese anxieties about a swiftly globalizing society and a desire for stability and control. This paper will also discuss the theoretical complications of this study, such as the guilt/past punishment of the Japanese “folk devil”; the problems posed by moral panics over historical matters; and the implications of Western participation in Chinese moral panics.

The meaning of Obama in Japan
Seongbin Hwang, Rikkyo University, Japan

This study aims at investigating how the Japanese media have covered the 2008 presidential election and the addresses given by Mr. Obama as President of the U.S.A. For analysis, I use the perspective of “media framing”; principles of selection, emphasis, and presentation composed of little tacit theories about what exists, what happens, and what matters. Despite the Obama boom in Japan, however, there is complex reaction to the Obama’s victory. While the Japanese public welcomed the first black president in the history of the U.S.A., there is unease about the Obama administration’s foreign policy and dissatisfaction with Japan’s relations with the U.S. Accordingly, the media coverage had some tendency to focus on the fact that Barak Obama is the first black to become U.S. President and to be skeptical of the new administration’s policy especially on foreign relations. I will discuss why this happened with regard to the Japanese perception of the U.S.A. and its relevance with the post-war nationalism because America's position or image has been tremendous, even fundamental in the narrative strategies of the postwar Japan. Then I will discuss the way the Japanese media deal with racial relations in the U.S.A., comparing with the cases in Japan. Also a special attention will be given to the Obama addresses in Prague and Tokyo and the Japanese media’s coverage of those. In the presentation, I will be particularly concerned with popular perception or understanding of “Obama’s change”; hence conversation or commentary in the TV studio and comments on the weekly magazines will be mainly introduced and examined in terms of what those really mean in the context of Japanese society.