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Indiana University


EASC Newsletter

A publication of the East Asian Studies Center, Indiana University

June 2016

IU East Asia News

Spring Colloquium Series Brings New Perspectives on East Asia


The Spring 2016 semester brought another successful chapter of the EASC Colloquium Series. Every semester EASC hosts a number of scholars, both from IU and a number of other institutions, to discuss East Asian history, culture, and current events. This semester eight scholars, including two from IU, presented on a variety of topics ranging from modern politics and current events to history, culture, and linguistics in East Asia.


The Spring 2016 series began with a powerful presentation by Hyeon Jung Lee, an anthropologist and Harvard-Yenching Fellow from Seoul National University. She bought her audience on an exploration of Korean politics and the actions taken by the families of the victims of the Sewol Ferry tragedy in April 2014. She traced the families’ transformation from passive citizens to active, resistant subjects fighting against the state’s unwillingness to investigate the cause of the accident and the failure to rescue the trapped victims.


The series continued with highly successful presentations by Richard Samuels (MIT) on Japan’s political strategies in the second half of the 20th century and Charlotte Eubank’s (Penn State) discussion of the calligraphy of 13th century Zen master Dōgen Fukanzazengi.


 In late February and early March EASC was proud to introduce two of IU’s faculty members, Mark Minton and Yan Long. Professor Long, an Assistant Professer in the School of Global and International Studies, gave a stirring talk, titled “Will to Die,” about the rarely discussed AIDS epidemic in China. Her talk represented a part of her current book project and discussed how China’s largest HIV/AIDS epidemic was caused, in large part, by blood contamination due to the rapid, and uncontrolled, expansion of the government supported blood industry. Mark Minton’s (Professor of Practice, East Asian Studies) talk is discussed in detail in the piece “Is Three a Crowd?”


The Spring Colloquium Series drew to a close with talks by Ashton Lazarus (Harper-Schmidt Fellow, University of Chicago) and Jeff Martin (Assistant Professor of Anthropology, UIUC). Professor Lazarus took his audience back to medieval Japan, discussing folk performance and the politics of culture in the 11th and 12th centuries. Professor Martin gave the final talk of the semester with a fascinating discussion of the realms of sovereignty by police and taxi unions in democratic Taiwan.

Each speaker brought wonderful new insight and understanding of East Asian history, culture, and literature. We are looking forward to another successful Colloquium Series during the Fall 2016 semester.


Recordings of many, but not all, of the Colloquiums from the Spring 2016 series are accessible through EASC.  For more information about past or future events please contact EASC at or visit us in our new home in the Global and International Studies Building.



Hina Matsuri Offers Opportunity for Japanese Cultural Education


In Japan March 3rd represents a special festival called Hina Matsuri which translated into English means “Doll’s Day” or, as it is more commonly known, “Girl’s Day.”


The festival dates to the Heian period (975-1185 CE) and is customarily celebrated by displaying ornamental dolls representing the emperor, empress, their attendants, and musicians of the Heian period. Straw hina dolls, dressed in Kimono, have historically been placed in boats and set afloat down rivers to the sea in hopes that these dolls would take away troubles and bad spirits but this practice has greatly diminished.

The Hina Matsuri festival offered the opportunity for Japanese cultural sharing at IU. Students and faculty member came together to learn about the festival and about Kimonos including how Japanese people wear the Kimono, its histories, and the different types of Kimono. Participants were also given the opportunity to try on Yukata, a casual style Kimono.


Is Three a Crowd? - Mark Minton Calls for Back Door to North Korea


When Mark Minton, former United States Ambassador, joined Indiana University as an international studies faculty member, it represented another step in what Lee A Feinstein, Dean of the School of Global and International Studies, described as IU’s longstanding commitment to the study of Asia. Prior to joining IU, Minton had been president of the Korea Society in New York, former U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia, and a diplomat in varying functions for more than 30 years. Much of his focus as a diplomat and as president of the Korea Society was on U.S.-Korean relations which he focused on in multiple talks on IU’s campus this past year.


This semester Minton participated in the EASC Colloquium Series, first giving a talk open to the public and then meeting privately with five graduate students to discuss the topic in more detail. Minton focused on the failure of multilateral negotiations that were an attempt by the international community to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear weapons. The failure of these attempts only served to intensify international tensions.


His solution: to remove the United States from the driver’s seat. Throughout the second half of the twentieth century, and the opening years of the twenty-first, the United States has been the focal point of international diplomatic discussions with North Korea. The current US administration is exercising what Minton calls “strategic patience” but Minton believes that if progress is to be made in diplomatic talks it will have to come by a different avenue, a back door. What might that avenue be? Minton believes that talks on the nuclear program are most likely to reach a successful conclusion if the two Koreas are leading the discussion.


“Perhaps we should consider the resolution of the North Korea nuclear problem through the back door, so to speak,” Minton said. Given the intertwined nature of the North Korean nuclear issue to overall North and South relations, he said South Korea should start discussions.


“We must widen that back door, putting Seoul on the cutting edge of such efforts instead of Seoul following Washington’s lead,” Minton said.


IU Art Museum Displays Gallery of Asian Art


Since its establishment in 1941, the Indiana University Art Museum has grown from a small university teaching collection into one of the foremost university art museums in the country. The museum is currently featuring a collection of Asian art on the second floor gallery as part of the Gallery of the Arts of Asia and the Ancient Western World.


The museum was able to acquire a white cast bronze vase produced by preeminent Japanese artist Neva Chūroku (1897-1987). The vase is titled Flying Fish and is pictured. Chūroku’s works are known for the stark contrast created between flowing lines and angular points. The museum also acquired a wood block print by Natori Shunsen (1886-1960) of the actor Nakamura Utaemon as Hanko dancing at the Dojo Temple in 1951.



In all the exhibit features pieces of both modern and ancient art from the traditions of Greece and Rome to Japan, India, Southeast Asia and many civilizations in between. This includes a large collection of statues, paintings, and woodblock prints from the Heian period in Japan and Chinese artifacts dating to the Shang (17th century-1046 BCE), Zhou (1046-256 BCE) Han (202 BCE – 220 CE), Tang (618-907 CE), and Qing (1644-1911 BCE) dynasties.


The exhibit will continue until August, 2016 and is open to the public. The galleries are open Tuesday through Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday: noon to 5 p.m.



Life as Painting


For many artists the question they are most often asked is “from where do you get the inspiration for your work?” For Wonsook Kim, the 1995 United Nations Artist of the Year, the answer is simple: life. Life is in the very essence of Kim’s artwork and the stunning depictions of life in her art have led to her being recognized as one of the world’s forefront artists.


Born in Pusan, Korea Kim came to the United States to attend college. She attended Illinois State University where a professor made one of the most significant contributions to her at. Kim had been struggling to fit in with her largely American classmates including imitating their artistic styles. Her professor encouraged her to follow her own path, develop her own skills, and encouraged her to stop trying to blend in. From then on she drew on the world around her, her own life and emotions, and anything else that created a spark.


In many ways Wonsook Kim’s art is autobiographical, charting the course of her life. From her time spent at Illinois State University, the early and difficult years, marriage, divorce, and finding the man she describes as the joy of her life, Wonsook’s art reflects it all. With powerful strokes Wonsook has traced her own life in a pallet of beautiful hues. Her artwork offers insight to the world, stimulating the imagination of each individual. They provide an intimate look into the life of a talented Korean artist and each painting tells a story, detailing the feelings and events of life in such a way that her audience can identify with each different piece.


IU was blessed to have a visit from Wonsook in late March of this year. She brought a small selection of her works to share with the audience who came to hear her talk. She traced the course of her own life detailing how and why her art changed and developed over the years. Her talk was based on her own autobiographical book, Life as Painting (2011) which is a collection of essays tracing the development of her own personal style.


As Wonsook’s visit drew to a close members of the audience were able to examine her works in more detail. Students and faculty alike drank in the beauty of life as painting. We were glad to have been able to welcome Wonsook Kim to Indiana University, wish her continued success, and hope that we will be able to host this immensely talented individual again in the future.




IU Professor’s photography Displayed in Japan


James Nakagawa, a professor of photography and the Director of the Center for Integrative Photographic Studies (CIPS) at Indiana University, has had his photographic work included in Group Exhibition at the Towada Art Center in Aomori, Japan. Taking place from January 30 to May 15, 2016, the exhibition is curated by Japanese photo critic Kotaro Izawa, with a focus on prominent Japanese photographers such as Araki, Yutaka Takanashi, Risaku Suzuki, Rinko Kawauchi, Lie Shiga and others. EASC would like to congratulate Professor Nakagawa on his participation in the exhibition and wish him continued success.


To view Professor Nakagawa’s work please visit his website,





East Asia and the World” on the Rise in GISB


During the Fall 2015 semester Adam Liff, Assistant Professor of East Asian International Relation, began the organization of the “East Asia and the World” Speaker Series. Speakers include leading scholars and policymakers from the United States and beyond. A new lecture series at IU Bloomington, “East Asia and the World,” enjoyed a successful first semester and that success has carried over to the spring.


This semester four guest lecturers were welcomed to IU as part of the speaker series. They discussed a variety of topics concerning present day East Asia. Each lecturer drew large crowds of students, faculty, and other members of the Bloomington community.


The series kicked off on February 12th with Richard J. Samuels, the Ford International Professor of Political Science at MIT. His talk, “Japan’s Grand Strategy,” focused on Japan’s international policies and Japan’s role in contemporary East Asia.


The second part of the series was led by Sheila A. Smith, an expert on Japanese politics and foreign policy and senior fellow for Japan Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. She is the author of Intimate Rivals: Japanese Domestic Politics and a Rising China (2016) which provided the backbone of her lecture’s exploration of the policy issues testing the Japanese government as it tries to navigate its relationship with an advancing China.


The third speaker in this semester’s series was Prof. Oriana Mastro (Georgetown University). entitled “Dynamic Dilemmas: Chinese Strategic Intentions in Northeast Asia. Professor Mastro is a political scientist and leading expert on China's military and foreign policy, who regularly briefs U.S. military and government officials and her talk entitled “Dynamic Dilemmas” examined Chinese strategies and policies in Northeast Asia.


The final speaker in the series was Dr. T.J. Pempel (Department of Political Science, UC Berkeley). Dr. Pempel discussed issues of economics and security in Northeast Asia with students and members of the IU faculty.


The goal of the “East Asia and the World” speaker series has been to provide the SGIS and larger IU community with access to diverse perspectives on important matters facing the region. To say that the series has been a success would be an understatement and we look forward to the continued excellence that the series provides.



Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month


When it began in 1978, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, or AAPIHM, was a week-long celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander culture in America. Now it has been expanded to a month-long celebration, usually held in May. This year, Indiana University celebrates AAPIHM in April to allow the entire campus and community to take part in the activities before the semester ends. This year’s theme, “Walk Together, Embrace Differences, Build Legacies,” was designed to highlight the culture, diversity and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Melanie Castillo-Cullather, director of the Asian Culture Center said, “It is also a reminder that there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done regarding inclusion and equity and to support Asian American and Pacific Islander voices.” The wide variety of events held as part of AAPIHM included the Asian American and Pacific Islander film series which began with a screening of “Giap’s Last Day at the Ironing Board Factory” which won the 2015 Loni Ding Award for Social Issue Documentary.


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