Reimagining Activism

Today marks the last day of prep work! We have certainly come a long way since Monday the 22nd at 9am. To commemorate the last day of the controlled setting, I want to focus on some broader ideas instead of the detailed retelling of the day (which you can read on my wonderful peers’ posts!).

Through today’s discussion of disaster, activism, and rebuilding, I am really curious about the common people’s responses to events that may seem distant temporally and geographically. Obviously, we research and engage with others who care about these issues and want to pursue the topics in more details, but what about the majority of the population? Do people think about the corporate lack of responsibility and persistent denial/cover-up or is Minamata disease merely marked off as a tragedy? How is/who hardship appropriated to indicate moral capacity? How do existing societal values and “rules” affect the willingness of people to respond? The recent social activism stems from very “average” citizens who aren’t used to being vocal and expressive. I am very inclined to want to compare social activists (for different topics) across cultures. Especially reflecting on my class the past semester about popular culture and mass politics in North/West India, the protests in Japan could not be any more different. What do people want from the authority? Are the expectations of the values different and why do they differ?

I also recently wrote an essay about An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro. The temptation to use memory as a device to reconstruct history and nonlinearity was crucial to the unreliable narrator’s retelling of his past. Memory can be easily manipulated to incite forlorn nostalgia or redeemable mistakes. The constant suppression of painful memories eventually encouraged the readers to pity the unreconcilable world the narrator now exists in. Many of the events we look at, including American occupation, are not ancient history. How much do we remember and what do we choose to remember? Most importantly, who/what gets erased and why? I think to be able to go to Tokyo with some Japanese history background will allow us to better compare and track continuity and changes.

Author: Gerlin Leu '19

Hello readers! I am Gerlin, an Asian Studies major focusing on religion in South (and Southeast) Asia (although thinking about pursuing academic studies about food culture and power.) I have been studying Japanese for two years now. My original plan was to look at religious NPO's collaborative efforts after 3/11 and how that has redefined the role of religion in society. I am currently also very obsessed with the theories of subaltern and postcolonialism, so these themes will echo through my posts. I enjoy taking photos and talking in person (more than blogging). じゃ、よろしくお願いします。