Things Unseen: Specters of Colonialism, Visual Culture, and US Colonial Mentorship of Japan in 1860

Danika Medak-Saltzman, Assistant Professor, Department of Ethnic Studies, University of Colorado, Boulder, and Katrin H. Lamon Resident Scholar, SAR.

Colloquium, SAR Boardroom

Wednesday, September 26, 2012, 12:00–1:00 pm, Free

Dr. Medak-Saltzman will present a framework she terms “specters of colonialism" and use it to analyze two widely circulated woodblock prints from 1860: one made in Japan about the US, and the other made in the US about Japan. As we shall see, the questions that these two images immediately provoke are “Why is ‘America’ represented as an Indian?” and “How does the US understand itself as sharing the light of civilization with Japan?” Using historical data, a background in Japanese Studies, and a solid grounding in Indigenous Studies methodologies, Medak-Saltzman interweaves an examination of the way that the United States positions itself as colonial mentor to Japan in the late Tokugawa and early Edo periods with the very real and imagined roles that Indigenous peoples played in them—a history that is both underexplored and visually embodied in the woodblock prints in question.

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