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Wednesday, July 09, 2014, 18:15 - 20:30

Exporing some persistent questions about the relationship between culture and nation through the lens of the tea ceremony.

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(The talk will be in English)

What is the role of the nation in everyday life?  How do elements of culture come to symbolize a nation and its diversity?  What are the risks involved?  And why does it matter in a globalizing world?  The book Making Tea, Making Japan: Cultural Nationalism in Practice explores these persistent questions about the relationship between culture and nation through the lens of the tea ceremony.

In this talk, Kristin Surak will discuss how the tea ceremony has become a place for experiencing Japaneseness within Japan – not just for foreigners, but for Japanese as well.  She will examine the tension-filled transformation of chanoyu (tea ceremony) from an aesthetic pleasure of leading men to a hobby of housewives as it came to embrace not merely the elite few, but the nation as a whole, and explore the ways that tea masters have capitalized on the association between tea and Japanese culture.  As such, the tea ceremony serves as an exceptionally vivid illustration of one of the fundamental processes of modernity: the work of making nations.  With over a decade of kneeling on tea room floors, Kristin Surak has conducted extensive historical and ethnographic research on chanoyu that has taken her to a wide range of tea schools within Japan, and across the US, China, and South Korea.

Currently, she is an Associate Professor of Japanese Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, where her work extends beyond tea.  Her articles on nation-building, capitalism and ethnicity, migration policies, and guestworker schemes have appeared in the New Left Review, Lettre International, Merkur, and the European Journal of Sociology, among others.  For her scholarship, she has been named a Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles and a Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.  She received a BA in International Affairs and a BS in Sociology from Florida State University and an MA and a PhD in Sociology from University of California, Los Angeles.

The library committee is offering a cocktail party – “Meet the Author” - starting at 6:15 pm. Followed by dinner at 6:45pm (Menu: Flatfish Meuniere with Japanese Sauce ; Matcha Tiramisu).  Drinks can be ordered on a cash basis from the bar in the room.  Book Break charges 2,100 yen (including tax) for the event. Non-members eligible to attend may pay in cash.

Sign up now at the reception desk (03-3211-3161) or on the FCCJ website. To help us plan proper seating and food preparation, please reserve in advance, preferably by noon of the day of the event.  Those without reservations will be turned away once available seats are filled. Reservations cancelled less than 24 hours in advance will be charged in full.

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