Tag Archive for international

Zheng: “Wherever There Are Africans, There Is Good Music”

Su Zheng, associate professor of music, associate professor of East Asian studies, spoke in a recent China Daily USA article about the number of African musical artists in China and how their presence is “creating new types of harmony between the two lands.”

Zheng starts off by pointing out that “Wherever there are Africans, there is good music – just like wherever there are Chinese, there is good food.”

When she discovered that there were no reports on the presence of African music in China, she decided to research the music of the African diaspora herself. The research completed by Zheng and her team of three graduate students from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music shows, while it seems improbable, that African music will greatly influence Chinese music at some point.

Krishnan Nominated for Dance Performance Award

Hari Krishnan

Hari Krishnan

Assistant Professor of Dance Hari Krishnan has been nominated for the Bessie Award for Outstanding Performer for his solo performance of “The Frog Princess,” which he performed as part of the La Mama Moves! Dance Festival in New York City in June and July.

Forty nominees for the 2012-13 Bessies, formally known as The New York Dance and Performance Awards, were announced at a press conference at the Gina Gibney Dance Center in New York on July 17. The 29th Annual Bessie Awards will be held on Oct. 7 at the Apollo Theater in New York.
Krishnan was one of 12 artists nominated for Outstanding Performer. See the full list here. Read a New York Times review of Krishnan’s performance, which he choreographed, here.

Jenkins Speaks about Indonesian Island, Oral History Research in Jakarta Post

Ron Jenkins

Ron Jenkins

Ron Jenkins ’64, professor of theater, recently wrote an op-ed for The Jakarta Post about Run, a small Indonesian island. Run was “involved in a war between maritime empires” due to the presence of nutmeg on the island. While “the historic memory of Run’s inhabitants is vague, their pride… in the importance of their island’s past is vivid.” The residents of the small island no longer make a living with the spice trade and must have other jobs to provide for their families, but nutmeg is still a large part of the culture. “The small pale yellow nutmeg fruit still hangs from the boughs of the trees that surround the rumah besi” and “the sweet smell of the spice still permeates the island’s air.” Several locals wish for a way to preserve the history of their island so that the story is not lost for the younger generations. Read the article online here.

Jenkins also is featured in the July 15 edition of The Jakarta Post speaking about his oral history research and collaboration with artist Made Wianta. Jenkin’s and Wianta’s project commemorates the historic connections between Run and Manhattan, of which most residents of both islands are unaware. When asked about the history of Run before the 20th century, most locals will respond similarly to Kajiri, a 75-year-old farmer: “That was before I was born and no one is left alive who remembers those things.” Jenkins and Wianta see the deep impact and contributions that the Spice Islands and Run have had and made on global culture and the pride that Indonesians deserve to have about their history. The goal of the collaborative project that will include a book, an art installation, and theatrical performances that all incorporate the perspectives of Run’s farmers, is to focus on the island’s history from an artistic angle. “…if we look at the past only through the lens of politics we can get stuck in arguments that will never be resolved. Maybe by looking at the past through the prism of art, we can understand history in a new way and create a future we will also be able to feel proud of.” Read the article online here.

 

Sumarsam’s Book on Javanese Performing Arts Published

New Book by Sumarsam.

New book by Sumarsam.

Sumarsam, the University Professor of Music, is the author of Javanese Gamelan and the West, published by the University of Rochester Press on July 1.

In Javanese Gamelan, Sumarsam examines the meaning, forms and traditions of the Javanese performing arts as they developed and changed through their contact with Western culture. The book traces the adaptations in gamelan art as a result of Western colonialism in 19th century Java, showing how Western musical and dramatic practices were domesticated by Javanese performers creating hybrid Javanese-Western art forms, such as with the introduction of brass bands in gendhing mares court music and West Javanese tanjidor, and Western theatrical idioms in contemporary wayang puppet plays.

The book also examines the presentation of Javanese gamelan to the West, detailing performances in World’s Fairs and American academia and considering its influence on Western performing arts and musical and performance studies. The end result is a comprehensive treatment of the formation of modern Javanese gamelan and a fascinating look at how an art form dramatizes changes and developments in a culture.

As a gamelan musician and a keen amateur dhalang/ (puppeteer) of Javanese wayang puppet play, Sumarsam performs, conducts workshops, and lectures throughout the U.S., Australia, Europe and Asia.

Shapiro Translates Choppin’s Creole Poems

Book translated by Norm Shapiro.

Book translated by Norm Shapiro.

Professor of Romance Languages Norman Shapiro, who translated La Fontaine into English, recently translated most of New Orleans poet Jules Choppin’s poems for New Orleans Poems in Creole and French. The book, published by Second Line Press in August 2013, presents a bilingual collection of forgotten treasures of 19th century francophone American literature.

Choppin was a well-known poet who had been published in New Orleans papers as well as Comptes-rendus de l’Athénée Louisianais, a 19th-century Louisianan literary journal.

Several of Choppin’s works are inspired by La Fontaine’s good-humored fables and written in “sprightly Lousisana Creole.”

Order the book online here.

Schwarcz Explores Contemporary China through New Book of Poetry

Book by Vera Schwarcz.

Book by Vera Schwarcz.

Vera Schwarcz, the Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies, professor of history, is the author of Ancestral Intelligence, published by Antrim House Books in 2013.

In Ancestral Intelligence, Schwarcz depicts the cultural landscape of contemporary China by creating “renditions” of poems by a mid-20th century dissident poet, Chen Yinke, and by adding a group of her own poems in harmony with Chen Yinke’s. Like his, her poems show a degradation of culture and humanity, in this case through comparison of classic and modern Chinese logographs.

In the tragic yet inspiring story of Chen Yinke, Schwarcz finds her own powerful way of articulating the horrors of political oppression, and also the smaller but no less difficult personal afflictions of growing old, seeing loved ones suffer. The book’s front cover design by Andy Youlieguo Zhou depicts the degradation of one’s culture and language.

Schwarcz was born and raised in Cluj, Romania, where she began her explorations of poetry in several languages. Her mother tongues include Hungarian and Romanian, with Yiddish, German, Hebrew, Russian and French added along the way. After emigrating to the United States in 1962, she pursued degrees in East Asian studies and history at Vassar, Yale and Stanford. A member of the first group of exchange scholars to be sent to China in the spring of 1979, she has returned to Beijing repeatedly during the past three decades. All along, her corpus of scholarly writing has been accompanied by the publication of poems in several languages in the United States, Europe and Asia. The daughter of Holocaust survivors, Schwarcz has made the quest for remembrance a central theme in all her works. Her writing has been nominated for the National Jewish Book Award and has been accorded several major grants, including a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Read Ancestral Intelligence poem samples online here.

Freeman Remembered for Supporting Asian Scholars Program at Wesleyan

Doreen Brown Freeman

Doreen Brown Freeman was born in England in 1923. She was co-trustee of the Freeman Foundation.

Doreen Brown Freeman, who together with her husband, the late Houghton “Buck” Freeman ’43, generously supported Wesleyan and especially the Freeman Asian Scholars Program, died July 12 in Honolulu.

The Freeman family, including Buck, Doreen and their son Graeme Freeman ’77, established the Freeman Foundation in 1993 after the death of Buck’s father, Mansfield Freeman, Wesleyan class of 1916, who had contributed greatly to Wesleyan’s East Asian Studies Program.

Buck Freeman was chairman of the Freeman Foundation, and Doreen was a co-trustee. They demonstrated a hands-on style of giving that ensured a personal connection with all those receiving foundation support. She was especially attentive to the Freeman Asian Scholars Program – the foundation’s landmark contribution to Wesleyan. Established in 1995 to promote cross-cultural understanding between the United States and Asia, the program provides scholarships for exceptional students from 11 East Asian countries to earn bachelor’s degrees at Wesleyan. The program has supported more than 340 students.

Doreen was instrumental in interviewing Freeman Asian Scholar candidates each year until 2010, and was an especially staunch supporter of candidates who came from challenging backgrounds with limited opportunities to study abroad. She also was particularly interested in hearing from the program’s students and alumni about the details of their lives.

“For decades the Freeman family has helped Wesleyan fulfill its mission of providing the best in liberal arts education,” said Wesleyan President Michael Roth. “We are deeply grateful for all that the foundation has done and continues to do, and we mourn the passing of Doreen, who with her husband Buck, were wonderful friends. Our hearts go out to her daughter Linda, son Graeme and their families.”

Doreen was born in England in 1923. During World War II, she proudly served in one of Britain’s women’s service corps. At American International Group (AIG) – which was co-founded by Mansfield Freeman, and where her husband later rose to the top levels of company leadership – she took the initiative to “show the ropes” to younger AIG spouses. She was an avid reader and loved novels and memoirs about Asia.

Buck and Doreen’s generosity has made an enormous impact on Wesleyan. A gift at the end of the Campaign for Liberal Learning in the 1980s jump-started construction of Bacon Field House and the new pool in the Freeman Athletic Center. They also supported the Center for East Asian Studies, the Wesleyan Fund and other special projects. Their giving made them Wesleyan’s largest donors ever.

Wesleyan awarded Doreen an honorary degree in 2003, citing her as “a philanthropist whose strong compassion springs from commitment, grit, and a backbone of steel.”

Arrangements for remembrance will be private. Letters and notes are welcome at The Freeman Foundation, 1601 East West Road, Honolulu, HI 96848.

Chanoff ’94: RefugePoint Calls Attention to World Refugee Day with Photo Exhibit

Sasha Chanoff ’94

Sasha Chanoff ’94 (Photo by Cynthia Rockwell)

Sasha Chanoff ’94, founder and executive director of RefugePoint, hosted an inaugural event on June 19 in advance of World Refugee Day in Cambridge, Mass., near the organization’s headquarters. Featured was the work of photojournalist Amy Toensing, a regular contributor to National Geographic, whose latest project, In the Shadows: Urban Refugee Children, documented the lives of urban refugee children in Africa, one of the populations RefugePoint works to protect.

RefugePoint, an action-oriented organization, is focused on locating people whose lives are caught in an untenable zone—unable to go home, yet unable to find themselves a new, safe place to live—and helping to resettle them to a place where they can rebuild their lives. Funded through a robust Kickstarter campaign, Toensing’s collection captured the poignancy of the childrens’ plight as well as the hopefulness of their spirit.

At the event, the RefugePoint team shared a refugee story with a happy ending. As part of the night’s programming, the attendees Skyped with a family whom RefugePoint had recently reunited: the parents had been separated from one of their five children—a five-year-old daughter when rebels invaded their village nine years ago. RefugePoint relocated the parents and four children to St. Louis, Missouri, in 2009, while the father continued to search for his daughter through connections in Africa. Eventually, she was found and RefugePoint helped facilitate her reunion with her family. Their smiles, projected onto a screen, lit up the gathering of supporters, friends, and volunteers.

“It’s about being really creative and making a framework to change a situation for the better,” said Chanoff. “You save one person and that saves a family, which saves a community, which saves a nation, which saves the world.”

RefugePoint summer intern Maeve Russell ’14, a double major in government and environmental studies, says she was drawn to the internship opportunity with Chanoff because of her interest in Africa’s refugee crisis.

Maeve Russell ’14

Maeve Russell ’14

“Having worked last summer in Kibera, where many displaced people seek refuge, I was really excited to see how a Wesleyan alumnus was successfully making an impact in their lives. So far, I have had an amazing time interning for RefugePoint. It has been incredibly rewarding in terms of work experience, information, and self-growth,” she said.

Russell is the coordinator for the Wesleyan chapter of Shining Hope for Communities, the Kenyan-based non-profit founded by Jessica Posner Odede ’09 and Kennedy Odede ’12 that provides the only tuition-free school for girls in the slum of Kibera. Connected to this school for girls is a network of other social services, including a health clinic and community center.

In Russell’s words, “Both RefugePoint and Shining Hope for Communities really epitomize the transcending innovation of social entrepreneurship and change. By mobilizing a large community of support both here in the US, and in their countries of operation, these organizations have really utilized the power of collective human action. It is thanks to organizations like RefugePoint and Shining Hope for Communities that I have been inspired to really dedicate my life to nonprofit work. I’ve seen firsthand the power it has to change lives and communities for the better.”

For more on Amy Toensing’s exhibit for RefugePoint, see this link.

Harris ’98 Studies Multinational Trade Route

harris.tina

Tina Harris ’98

In her new book Geographical Diversions  (The University of Georgia Press), Tina Harris ’98 employs cultural anthropology, human geography, and material culture to explore the social and economic transformations that take place along one trade route that extends through China, Nepal, Tibet, and India. She makes connections between the seemingly mundane motions of daily life and more abstract levels of global change by focusing on two generations of traders and how they create “geographies of trade that work against state ideas of what trade routes should look like.”  She observes the tensions between the apparent fixity of invisible national boundaries and the mobility of the local individuals. The book as a whole challenges and confronts established theories on an innovative smaller-scale perspective.

Book by Tina Harris '98

Book by Tina Harris ’98

Harris considers what allows the traders along one trade route to make their own places through their markets and their way of life. She focuses on the effects of new infrastructure due to the economic rise of China and India on places that are rarely covered by international media. Alongside her detailed written analysis of the trade route, Harris provides numerous photographs to give readers a more visual sense of the world they are reading about. These pictures include a mule caravan loaded with Tibetan wool near Pharia, circa 1930s; a sign on National Highway 31A on the road to Gangtok, and the reopening ceremony that took place in July of 2006.

Author website

Roman Archaeologist Parslow Receives Residency at Institute for Advanced Study

Christopher Parslow, professor and chair of the Classical Studies Department, professor of archaeology, has been selected as a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., for the 2013 fall term. Parslow, a Roman archaeologist specializing in the ancient sites buried by the eruption of Vesuvius, will spend his semester-long residency working on a book on the Praedia (Properties) of Julia Felix in Pompeii.

He was chosen on the recommendation of the faculty of the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, one of the world’s leading centers for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry. Each year, about a quarter of the nearly 200 scholars from dozens of countries studying at the Institute receive appointments to the School of Historical Studies. The visiting scholars, known as members and visitors, interact with fellow scholars within and across disciplines and conduct research unencumbered by teaching and administrative obligations.

Parslow has been a member of the Wesleyan faculty since 1991. As a Samuel H. Kress Fellow in Classical Art and Archaeology, he spent two years at the American Academy in Rome. His first book was Rediscovering Antiquity: Karl Weber and the Excavations of Herculaneum, Pompeii and Stabiae (Cambridge 1995), a biography of Karl Weber, the Swiss military engineer who sought to establish a more scientific approach to the study of the earliest excavations at those cities. His most recent article, “The Sacrarium of Isis in the Praedia Iuliae Felicis in Pompeii in its Archaeological and Historical Contexts,” was published this year in the volume Rediscovering the Ancient World on the Bay of Naples of the series Studies in the History of Art of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. His other publications include articles on the history of the early excavations in the Vesuvian landscape and on the results of his own excavations, on which Wesleyan students have participated.

Founded in 1930, the Institute for Advanced Study is a private, independent academic institution. Past faculty members have included Albert Einstein, who remained at the institute until his death in 1955, and distinguished scientists and scholars such as Kurt Gödel, J. Robert Oppenheimer and George Kennan. It has no formal links to other educational institutions but enjoys close, collaborative ties with Princeton University and other nearby institutions.

Igler ’88 Writes History of Pacific World Travels During 1770s–1840s

David Igler '88

David Igler ’88

David Igler ’88 has written the new history book, The Great Ocean: Pacific Worlds from Captain Cook to the Gold Rush (Oxford University Press), the first book to combine American, oceanic, and world history in a vivid portrayal of travels in the Pacific world. He researched hundreds of documented voyages to explore the commercial, cultural, and ecological upheavals following Captain Cook’s exploits, and concentrated on the eastern Pacific in the decades between the 1770s and the 1840s.

Book by David Igler '88

Book by David Igler ’88

Igler starts with the expansion of trade as seen via the travels of William Shaler, captain of the American Brig Lelia Byrd. Soon he reveals a world where voyagers, traders, hunters, and native peoples met one another in episodes often marked by violence and tragedy. Some of his accounts tell how indigenous communities struggled against introduced diseases that cut through the heart of their communities; how the ordeal of Russian Timofei Tarakanov typified the common practice of taking hostages and prisoners; how Mary Brewster witnessed first-hand the bloody “great hunt” that decimated otters, seals, and whales; and how James Dwight Dana rivaled Charles Darwin in his pursuit of knowledge on a global scale.

In an article about Igler’s book on Verso, the blog of the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, Matt Stevens writes: “Igler has made excellent use of the rare books and manuscripts at The Huntington, but he came to appreciate all the material that tends to fall outside the definition of ‘special collections’—that is, published journals and other reference materials that occupy the general stacks.

“ ‘Whenever I was jotting down notes at The Huntington,’ says Igler, ‘I would often stop and look up a source. Sure enough, the book was here, and I would go grab it. So being on site was instrumental to my ability to complete my book.’ ”

Igler is associate professor of history at the University of California, Irvine. His books include Industrial Cowboys: Miller & Lux and the Transformation of the Far West, 1850–1920 and The Human Tradition in California.