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Traveling Texts and the Work of Afro-Japanese Cultural Production

Two Haiku and a Microphone

Edited by William H. Bridges IV and Nina Cornyetz - Contributions by Crystal S. Anderson; Michio Arimitsu; William H. Bridges IV; Nina Cornyetz; Kevin Fellezs; Tia-Simone Gardner; Yoshinobu Hakutani; Noriko Manabe; Anne McKnight; Yuichiro Onishi; Shana L. Redmond; Marvin D. Sterling and Dexter Thomas Jr.

Hardback
eBook
Traveling Texts and the Work of Afro-Japanese Cultural Production analyzes the complex conversations taking place in texts of all sorts traveling between Africans, African Diasporas, and Japanese across disciplinary, geographic, racial, ethnic, linguistic, and cultural borders. Be it focused on the make-up of the blackface ganguro or the haiku of Richard Wright, Rastafari communities in Japan or the black enka singer Jero, the volume turns its attention away from questions of representation to ones concerning the generative aspects of transcultural production. The contributors are interested primarily in texts in motion—the contradictory motion within texts, the traveling of texts, and the action that such kinetic energy inspires in readers, viewers, listeners, and travelers. As our texts travel and travail, the originary nodal points that anchor them to set significations loosen and are transformed; the essays trace how, in the process of traveling, the bodies and subjectivities of those working to reimagine the text(s) in new sites moderate, accommodate, and transfigure both the texts and themselves.
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Lexington Books
Pages: 294Size: 6 x 9
978-1-4985-0547-5 • Hardback • June 2015 • $95.00 • (£65.00)
978-1-4985-0548-2 • eBook • June 2015 • $94.99 • (£65.00)
William H. Bridges is assistant professor of Japanese and Asian studies at St. Olaf College.
Nina Cornyetz is associate professor of interdisciplinary studies at the Gallatin School for Individualized Study, New York University.
Part One: Art and Performance
Chapter 1: Urban Geishas: Reading Race and Gender in iROZEALb’s Paintings, Crystal Anderson
Chapter 2: The Theatrics of Japanese Blackface: Body as Mannequin, Nina Cornyetz
Chapter 3: Abbey Lincoln and Kazuko Shiraishi’s Art-Making as Spiritual Labor, Yuichiro Onishi and Tia-Simone Gardner

Part Two: Poetry and Literature
Chapter 4: Playing the Dozens on Zen: Amiri Baraka’s Journey from a “Pre-Black” Bohemian Outsider to a “Post-American Low Coup” Poet, Michio Arimitsu
Chapter 5: Richard Wright’s Haiku and Modernist Poetics, Yoshinobu Hakutani
Chapter 6: In the Beginning: Blackness and the 1960s Creative Nonfiction of Ôe Kenzaburô, William H. Bridges IV
Chapter 7: Future-Oriented Blackness in Shōwa Robot Culture—1924 to 1963, Anne McKnight

Part Three: Sound, Song, Music
Chapter 8: “This Is Who I Am”: Jero and the Polycultural Politics of Black Enka, Kevin Fellezs
Chapter 9: Extending Diaspora: The NAACP and Up-“Lift” Cultures in the Interwar Black Pacific, Shana Redmond
Chapter 10: Hip-Hop and Reggae in Recent Japanese Social Movements, Noriko Manabe
Chapter 11: Can the Japanese Rap?, Dexter Thomas Jr.
Chapter 12: Race, Ethnicity and Affective Community in Japanese Rastafari, Marvin Sterling
Traveling Texts is the best book published to date on Afro-Japanese hybridity. The book brims with critical insights into a history of collaboration, exchange, borrowing, and homage perfectly pitched to its subject. From Amiri Baraka’s “low coup” poems to Japanese rastafari, the book listens in on a noisy creolization across the Black Pacific. A brilliant and necessary remix for our times.

Bill V. Mullen, Purdue University


In addressing what many readers may initially view as a “minor key” of Afro-Japanese encounters, Traveling Texts will quickly convince you of their centrality as phenomena while helping us theorize, understand, and discover intersections that don’t simply yield to regnant and often obscuring frameworks like globalization. Thinking through hip hop and haiku to ganguro black face, enka and rap, Richard Wright, Oe and polycultural explorations of race and identity, this collection explores the incommensurable in rigorous, amusing, sometimes breathtaking, and deeply touching ways.
James A. Fujii, University of California, Irvine


Focusing on African-American and Japanese cultural exchange, Traveling Texts provides a refreshing antidote to the ongoing fixation with Japan and the West/ Japan and Asia as the twin poles by which humanities scholars have approached Japan in the world. From W.E.B. Du Bois meditations on the Japanese victory over Russia in 1905 to the embrace of hip hop a century later, these essays engage critical race studies in order to push readers to rethink the social networks, cultural engagements, and traveling texts that constitute transnational Japan. A provocative and path breaking book.
Louise Young, Author of Beyond the Metropolis: Second Cities and Modern Life in Interwar Japan


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