Category Archives: Performing Arts

Q&A with ‘Risky Bodies and Techno-Intimacy’ author Geeta Patel

Risky Bodies & Techno-Intimacy traverses disparate and uncommon routes to explore how people grapple with the radical uncertainties of their lives. In this edgy, evocative journey through myriad interleaved engagements–including the political economies of cinema; the emergent shapes taken by insurance, debt, and mortgages; gender and sexuality; and domesticity and nationalism–author Geeta Patel demonstrates how science and technology ground our everyday intimacies. The result is a deeply poetic and philosophical exploration of the intricacies of techno-intimacy, revealing a complicated and absorbing narrative that challenges assumptions underlying our daily living.

Today we talk to the author about her book, publishing soon in our Feminist Technosciences series. 

What inspired you to get into your field?

Geeta Patel: I don’t have a field in any strict sense, although most of my friends now would think of me as a literary ‘type.’ I, however, don’t think of myself that way. I compose in visual metaphors, and the way I look at things askance, as though they were transparent and opaque at the same time, is as a scientist who loves poetry.

I grew up in a family full of women doctors, which along with the push toward science if you grew up in South Asia and had even a vestige of a brain, meant I ended up being saddled with science, specializing in the sciences from when I was eleven years old. But I loved all the sciences, particularly ‘the natural sciences’ with the kind of curiosity of many eighteenth-century scientists. In that period ‘scientific’ curiosity leaked out into more than what we would now call science. It embraced poetry, literary prose, questions of politics, the ways in which money and goods moved, finance, drawings, maps, and instruments. A sort of porous curiosity, rather than directed curiosity along blinkered pathways. Eighteenth-century journals, as well as the South Asian magazines of my childhood, had tidbits on science, poetry, politics, fiction, oddities from the ambit of the political, and off-kilter instruments of measurement. This is what I grew up reading and it is was as though they all belonged in the same place and together made sense.

So when I think of what my ‘field’ consists of, it lives at the cusp of all these things. Where more than one intellectual formation or terrain fades into each other, informs each other, pushes at each other, and inflects each other. And a field formation gets taken up in such a way that it makes an assumption in another field discomfiting. One such place I approach/broach that in Risky Bodies & Techno-Intimacy is the technology of time.

What would you have been if not an academic?

GP: Probably a health practitioner, a healer.

Why did you want to write this book?

GP: I wanted to sit with, ponder, think about, and ruminate on the places, moments, pauses, and sudden jolts where I stopped thinking. Where my capacity to envision something else failed me, felt as though it had faded from my grasp. Many intellectuals imagine this as the horizon towards which one ambles, gallops, or comes up against in some putative future. When I was writing my previous book on the Urdu poet Miraji, I came to see it as he had, and how the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein had, as that which is inside what we think, visualize, do. The bedrock of belief lives where we come to a grinding halt, and we find ourselves in a double bind—facing what we must let go of, but can’t. How could we, following on Michel Foucault and Marcel Mauss, understand these as technologies that make us who we are, which are the armature of our very ordinary, everyday habits?

I also wanted to mess with what had come to be conventional ways of bringing intellectual fields together. I wanted to make that broaching or bridging awkward—and this is what I practice in Risky Bodies & Techno-Intimacy. What would chemistry do to transgender possibilities in South Asia? What would it mean to transmute the aesthetics of linear time to lay out the gatherings that took on the resistance to a film on sexuality? How would the historical congruencies between these events and the fights over insurance in the Indian parliament give us insights? Allow us to delve into the modes through which financing loss became the conduit to grapple with the political desires that undergird nationalism? In the process how would science emerge in writing about events that might, in some simple way, not be said to be scientific (in the ways we now see science)?

Who do you see as the audience for this book?

GP: Everyone, feminists, science studies aficionados, cultural studies scholars, media studies scholars, finance practitioners, political theorists, literary theorists. In India I have found the audience to include artists, film-makers, fiction writers, poets, and non-academics.

What is your next project?

GP: I have many ongoing projects. One is a book on Ismat Chughtai, in particular on two of her short stories. That book interrogates the lineages of historical realism in South Asia. It brings quantum and relativity as conduits through which I can grapple with the desires that readers ferry along with them as they read fiction and mine it for information. One is a book on 1950s and ‘60s billboards in Mumbai, and I look at what they reveal about advertising, fiscal fantasies, national sentiment, and nationalist aesthetics in post-colonial states. Another is about the long history of pensions and insurance in South Asia. One of the first of its chapters rethinks the eighteenth-century history of capitalism through colonial pensions.


Geeta Patel is associate professor of both Middle Eastern and South Asian languages and cultures and of women, gender, and sexuality at the University of Virginia. She is author of Lyrical Movements, Historical Hauntings: Gender, Colonialism, and Desire in Miraji’s Urdu Poetry.

August 2017 News, Reviews, and Events

News

UW Press publishes two (out of three) titles on the shortlist for the European Association for Southeast Asian Studies (EuroSEAS) Social Science Book Prize 2017 (Humanizing the Sacred by Azza Basarudin and Forests Are Gold by Pamela D. McElwee). Winners will be announced at the organization’s annual meeting in England from August 16-18, 2017. Congratulations to and fingers crossed for the finalists, editors, and all involved!

Monthly Giveaways

Reviews and Interviews

The Seattle Times features Waterway by David B. Williams, Jennifer Ott, and staff of HistoryLink (dist. for HistoryLink) and mentions Native Seattle by Coll Thrush in an article about the 100th anniversary celebrations for the Locks on July 4. The Wedgewood in Seattle History blog also features Waterway.


The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette features an op-ed by Bike Battles author James Longhurst.


The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reviews The Tao of Raven by Ernestine Hayes: “Artistic and honest and moving in a way few memoirs ever dare to match. . . . A seminal work in the making, and one that all Alaskans should make a point not to miss.”—Addley Fannin


General Aviation News reviews The Propeller under the Bed by Eileen A. Bjorkman: “Any aviation enthusiast will appreciate all 200 pages of this work, but those of us who find our fathers and mothers staring up at a cloudless sky when the sound of a propeller breaks the silence will recognize both its timeless appeal and historic significance.”—Mark Jones Jr.


The Seattle Times features The Hope of Another Spring by Barbara Johns in the Lit Life column: “A powerful new book. . . . The book is a beautiful display of Fujii’s work, and it’s proof of the power of art and artists to witness events many would rather leave in the dark.”—Mary Ann Gwinn

8Asians also reviews: “The gem of the book is the reproduction of Fujii’s diary. . . . The Hope of Another Spring offers an Issei artist’s perspective to our understanding of Japanese American’s wartime incarceration, while also bringing a valuable study of Fujii and his artistic journey and long career.”—Lily Wong


The Pacific Northwest Inlander features A Year Right Here by Jess Thomson: “The book is filled with evocative food descriptions and enviable trips, but also encompasses the uncontrollable stuff of everyday life and explores the limits of physical ability. . . . Thomson’s book encourages readers to be curious about their natural habitats in a new way. . . . An invitation to adventure anyone can embrace.”—Cara Strickland


Greg in San Diego blog reviews Birds of the Pacific Northwest by Tom Aversa, Richard Cannings, and Hal Opperman: “I believe this is the most useful regional field guide to the birds in the northwest corner of the contiguous United States.”—Greg Gillson


Western Birds, the journal of Western Field Ornithologists, also reviews the birding guide: “For the majority of serious birders in the West who tend to limit their explorations to one or another state or province, this guide should expand their horizons and encourage more cross-border birding. . . . This guide is an essential reference for birders west of the continental divide, particularly for intermediate and advanced observers.”—Eugene Hunn


TrailBlazerGirl.com reviews Seattle Walks by David B. Williams: “Not your typical tourist guide book. . . . Seattle Walks is an excellent guide to help you experience Seattle in a new way.”


KCTS 9 Borders & Heritage mentions Signs of Home by Barbara Johns in a segment and article about the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066.


UW Today features news from the College of Arts & Sciences that the family of video art pioneer Doris Chase have donated 59 of her works to the Henry. We published a book about the artist, Doris Chase, Artist in Motion by Patricia Failing, in 1992.


TrailblazerGirl.com reviews Hiking Washington’s History and Walking Washington’s History by Judy Bentley: “Enhance your exploration of the Evergreen State with Judy Bentley’s books.”


Plant Science Bulletin reviews Timber Trees of Suriname by Chequita R. Bhikhi (dist. for LM Publishers): “Timber Trees of Suriname will be very useful for foresters and, as a first introduction to the rich tree flora of Suriname, for all botanists, ecologists, and amateurs interested in flora of the Guiana Shield.”—Marcel Rejmánek


The HOME — So Different, So Appealing exhibit is on view at LACMA through October 15, 2017. We will distribute the accompanying catalogue—edited by curators Chon A. Noriega, Mari Carmen Ramirez, and Pilar Tompkins Rivas—for UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Press. The exhibit gets mentions at ARTnews and Cuban Art News, and a review in the New Yorker: “’Home – So Different, So Appealing’ is a big, keen show. . . . It tells many stories and is a story in itself.”—Peter Schjeldahl

The exhibit also gets a review in the Los Angeles Times: “If ‘Home’ is a harbinger of what to expect for the rest of the series, it has set the bar high.”—Carolina A. Miranda


KEXP’s KEXPlorer posts an audio recording of an April 2017 panel discussion at the Wing Luke Museum on “Feminism and war in the Asia Pacific” program with Cindy Domingo (coeditor of A Time to Rise; October 2017).


KEXP’s Mind Over Matters Sustainability Segment interviews Unlikely Alliances author Zoltán Grossman. WORT’s A Public Affair (Madison, WI) will also interview the author live on August 11, 2017.


Greg Robinson of Nichi Bei mentions No-No Boy by John Okada in his latest weekly column.


The Now & Then column of Pacific NW Magazine features Frederick L. Brown and The City Is More Than Human. Paul Dorpat’s blog features an expanded version of the column.


TrailblazerGirl.com reviews Haida Gwaii by Dennis Horwood:”For a comprehensive guide to one of National Geographic’s 20 Best Trips, check out Haida Gwaii.”


DCist features Carlos Bulosan and America Is in the Heart in an article about this weekend’s Smithsonian Asian American Literature Festival, as well as their weekend events round-up. The Festival features a two-day reading of Bulosan’s book and Troubling Borders editor Isabelle Thuy Pelaud will also be participating.


The Science magazine podcast features an interview with Smell Detectives author Melanie Kiechle. The American Scholar’s Smarty Pants podcast also interviews the author.


Not Another Sports Show podcast (#NASSRadio) interviews Playing While White author David J. Leonard.

New Books

Razor Clams: Buried Treasure of the Pacific Northwest
By David Berger

In this lively history and celebration of the Pacific razor clam, David Berger shares with us his love affair with the glossy, gold-colored Siliqua patula and gets into the nitty-gritty of how to dig, clean, and cook them using his favorite recipes. In the course of his investigation, Berger brings to light the long history of razor clamming as a subsistence, commercial, and recreational activity, and shows the ways it has helped shape both the identity and the psyche of the Pacific Northwest.

Waterway: The Story of Seattle’s Locks and Ship Canal
By David B. Williams, Jennifer Ott, and Staff of HistoryLink
Distributed for HistoryLink

Why does a city surrounded by water need another waterway? Find out what drove Seattle’s civic leaders to pursue the dream of a Lake Washington Ship Canal for more than sixty years and what role it has played in the region’s development over the past century. Historians Jennifer Ott and David B. Williams, author of Too High and Too Steep: Reshaping Seattle’s Topography, explore how industry, transportation, and the very character of the city and surrounding region developed in response to the economic and environmental changes brought by Seattle’s canal and locks.


Picturing India: People, Places, and the World of the East India Company
By John McAleer
Published with British Library

Few historians have considered the visual sources that survive from the British engagement with India and what they tell us about the link between images and empire, pictures and power. This book draws on the unrivaled riches of the British Library — both visual and textual — to tell that history. It weaves together the story of individual images, their creators, and the people and events they depict. And, in doing so, it presents a detailed picture of the Company and its complex relationship with India, its people and cultures.

Events

AUGUST

August 4 at 7 p.m., Ernestine Hayes, The Tao of Raven, Alaska State Library, Summer Lecture Series at the APK, Juneau, AK

August 5 at 11 a.m., Jess Thomson, A Year Right Here, Bear Pond Books, Stowe, VT

August 7 at 7 p.m., David B. Williams, Seattle Walks, King County Library Services – Renton Highlands, Renton, WA

August 11 at 7 p.m., Zoltán Grossman, Unlikely Alliances, A Room of One’s Own, Madison, WI

August 15 at 7 p.m., Judy Bentley, Walking Washington’s History, King County Library System – Lake Forest Park, Lake Forest Park, WA

August 15 at 7 p.m., David B. Williams, Seattle Walks, Co-presented with Capitol Hill Historical Society and Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA

August 30 at 7 p.m., Kathleen Alcalá, The Deepest Roots, Third Place Book Club hosted by Seattle7Writers (Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff), Seattle, WA

August 31 at 7 p.m., David B. Williams, Seattle Walks, with Kevin O’Brien, Third Place Books, Seward Park, Seattle, WA

SEPTEMBER

September 7 at 7 p.m., David Berger, Razor Clams, University Book Store, Seattle, WA

September 7 at 7:30 p.m., David Leonard, Playing While White, BookPeople, Moscow, ID

September 9 from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Multi-author signing from 1 – 2 p.m.), Readerfest with Kathleen Alcalá, The Deepest Roots, The Brig & Ampitheater at Magnuson Park, Seattle, WA

September 12 at 6 p.m., Paula Becker, Looking for Betty MacDonald, Sno-Isle Libraries, Mountlake Terrace Library, Mountlake Terrace, WA

September 13 at 7 p.m., Barbara Johns, The Hope of Another Spring, in conversation with Tom Ikeda, Seattle Public Library – Central Library with Elliott Bay Book Company and Denshō, Seattle, WA

September 13 at 7:30 p.m., David Berger, Razor Clams, Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau, Olympia Timberland Library, Olympia, WA

September 16 at 2 p.m., Paula Becker, Looking for Betty MacDonald, Humanities Washington, Sno-Isle Libraries, Stanwood Library, Stanwood, WA

September 16 at 2 p.m., William Wei, Asians in Colorado, Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, Colorado Springs, CO

September 19 at 7 p.m., David Berger, Razor Clams, Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau, Wheelock Library, Tacoma, WA

September 20 at 6:30 p.m., David B. Williams, Jennifer Ott, and staff of HistoryLink, Waterway, MOHAI, History Café, Seattle, WA

September 20 at 7 p.m., Barbara Johns, The Hope of Another Spring, Friends of Mukai at the Vashon Land Trust building, Vashon Island, WA

September 21 at 7 p.m., David Berger, Razor Clams, Eagle Harbor Books, Bainbridge Island, WA

September 23 at 11 a.m., David B. Williams, Jennifer Ott, and staff of HistoryLink, Waterway, King County Library System – Newcastle, Newcastle, WA

September 23 at 11 a.m., David Berger, Razor Clams, Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau, Aberdeen Timberland Library, Aberdeen, WA

September 23 at 2 p.m., David Berger, Razor Clams, Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau, Westport Timberland Library, Westport, WA

September 23 at 7 p.m., David Leonard, Playing While White, Auntie’s Bookstore, Spokane, WA

September 29 at 7 p.m., David Leonard, Playing While White, Elliott Bay Books, Seattle, WA

September 30 at 2 p.m., Judy Bentley, Walking Washington’s History, Timberland Regional Library – Olympia, Olympia, WA

September 30 at 2 p.m., David Berger, Razor Clams, Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau, Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum, Ilwaco, WA

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Q&A with ‘Queering Contemporary Asian American Art’ editors Laura Kina and Jan Christian Bernabe

This Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month we are excited to share special features with authors and editors of new and recent titles that celebrate Asian and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

Today we speak with Queering Contemporary Asian American Art editors Laura Kina and Jan Christian Bernabe about their groundbreaking volume, published this spring, and corresponding website.

Queering Contemporary Asian American Art takes Asian American differences as its point of departure for bringing together artists and scholars pushing back against normative assumptions, expectations, critiques, and practices within Asian American art and visual culture. Taken together, these nine original artist interviews, cutting-edge visual artworks, and seven critical essays explore contemporary currents and experiences within Asian American art, including the multiple axes of race and identity; queer bodies and forms; kinship and affect; and digital identities and performances. The interdisciplinary and theoretically informed frameworks in the volume engage readers to understand global and historical processes through contemporary Asian American artistic production.

Why did you want to put together this book?

Laura Kina and Jan Christian Bernabe: Most of the contributors of Queering Contemporary Asian American Art met at a 2012 National Endowment for the Humanities supported summer institute entitled “Re-envisioning American Art History: Asian American Art, Research, and Teaching” at the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at New York University. There we discussed the ways in which we could advance the field of Asian American art history through our teaching, writing, and curatorial projects.

We were very fortunate to have listened to a lecture on “doing” Asian American art history by the late Karin Higa. In her lecture, she described those of us invested in the field as “the termites of art history.” It was a call to critique and nibble away at what we call in the book “the white hegemonic pillars of art practice, history, and criticism.”

We wanted to heed Higa’s call to find innovative and timely ways to work on Asian American art history and thus formed a group at the seminar called “Que(e)rying Asian American Art,” for which the title of our book is named. We saw intense interest by the members of the group to think about the ways in which queer theory could inform Asian American art criticism.

In many ways, the discussions we had during the seminar and at many conferences after the seminar had ended informed the creation of our book. We like to think that our book is a product of our termite activities.

What was it like writing and putting together this kind of volume?

LK & JCB: The process of writing the book was extremely intense but exhilarating! We invited seven authors to write critical essays for the anthology and in total we interviewed 17 artists, from emerging to established in their careers. We started the process of interviewing during the summer of 2014 with genderqueer and transgender artists in Chicago: Kiam Marcelo Junio and Greyson Hong, respectively.

We worked together virtually and in coffee shops throughout Chicago in the two years of the book’s production, and we made a point of organizing panel discussions at academic conferences with the various artists and scholars involved in the book as. There was a lot of transcription of interviews involved as well as selecting artwork to be in the book. Our last interview was in spring 2016 with Tina Takemoto, a San Francisco based artist who self-describes as a “queer, gender queer, gender nonconforming, Asian American dyke.”

What do you hope is the book’s most important contribution?

LK & JCB: We hope our book builds on a queer of color critique and advances the field of Asian American art and contemporary art. The book is a call to build queer coalitions of resistance, to push back against the dominant “model minority” paradigm in Asian America of assimilationist “good” behavior—of not making waves and being silent and complicit in the face of anti-blackness, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and so forth that pervades US culture.

What is your next project?

LK & JCB: We are currently curating a virtual exhibition inspired by our book for the Center for Art and Thought called “Queer Horizons.” In this current moment of political and cultural transformations, especially affecting people of color and LGBTQ communities, the show seeks to envision what a queer futurity looks like. This idea of a queer horizon, borrowed from the late Jose Muñoz, proposes what he calls “a greater openness to the world.”

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

LK & JCB: The artwork is the most important thing. On a basic level, we just want to introduce the important work of the artists and scholars in this book to a wider audience. On a broader level, we want to inspire readers to form their own queer coalitional politics; we are writing to bring together feminists and queer of color artists and scholars to take up our “termite activities” and keep on nibbling at the hegemonic foundations of art history.


Laura Kina is an artist and a Vincent de Paul Professor of Art, Media, and Design at DePaul University. She is the coeditor of War Baby / Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art. Jan Christian Bernabe is the operations, new media, and curatorial director at the Center for Art and Thought. The contributors are Mariam B. Lam, Eun Jung Park, Alpesh Kantilal Patel, Valerie Soe, and Harrod J Suarez. Featured artists are Anida Yoeu Ali, Kim Anno, Eliza Barrios, Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik, Wafaa Bilal, Hasan Elahi, Greyson Hong, Kiam Marcelo Junio, Lin + Lam (H. Lan Thao Lam and Lana Lin), Viet Le, Maya Mackrandilal, Zavé Martohardjono, Jeffrey Augustine Songco, Tina Takemoto, Kenneth Tam, and Saya Woolfalk.

Welcome to Seattle…

…the best literary, outdoorsy, artsy, techy, coffee-loving, dog-friendly, mountain-viewing, whale watching, ferry-riding, Sasquatch-sighting, beer-drinking, farmers market-strolling, rainy/misting/drizzling (but wow the summers and the green!), reading city in the world!

My favorite thing to do when I arrive in a new city is to find the closest local bookstore. Not only are they great spaces for relaxing or meeting people, but they often lead to the discovery of local authors and events and provide a sense of the histories, nuances, and people of the city.

Whether you’re new to Seattle, just passing through, or a local looking for new adventures, the University of Washington Press has an expansive array of books to help you discover our city. They cover everything from Seattle’s intertwined urban and Native histories, the evolution of Seattle’s gay communities, growing up Japanese American during World War II, local activism and civil rights, the plight and reclamation of our river, the history of music in Seattle, of animalstopography, food, art and architecture, and weather! We hope you’ll consider stopping by your indie bookstore and checking for our W logo in the stacks of books.

GiveBIG-book-heart

And once you’re ready, here are some fun places to read while exploring your new city!

Read: The Deepest Roots

Where: On the ferry heading over for a day trip to Bainbridge Island.

Read: Too High and Too Steep

Where: What used to be Denny Hill in South Lake Union.

Read: Classical Seattle

Where: At Benaroya or McCaw Hall during intermission.

Read: Once and Future River

Where: Before or after a kayak trip on the Duwamish.

Read: The Landscape Architecture of Richard Haag

Where: Beneath the shadow of the industrial landmark at Gas Works Park.

Read: Shaping Seattle Architecture

Where: On a bench in historic Pioneer Square.

Read: Walking Washington’s History

Where: On the water taxi on route to an Alki walk.

Read: Birds of the Pacific Northwest

Where: Discovery Park, the largest city park in Seattle.

Read: Northwest Coast Indian Art

Where: wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ – Intellectual House on the University of Washington campus.

Excerpt: Onnagata: A Labyrinth of Gendering in Kabuki Theater

For a close-up look at transgender expression in another time and place, this Pride Month we wanted to share a selection from Maki Isaka’s book Onnagata: A Labyrinth of Gendering in Kabuki Theater. Onnagata, usually male actors who perform the roles of women, have been an important aspect of kabuki since its beginnings in 17th-century Japan. Isaka examines how the onnagata‘s theatrical gender “impersonation” has shaped the concept and mechanisms of femininity and gender construction in Japan. The implications of this study go well beyond the realm of theater and East Asia, informing theory about gender more broadly.

—Lorri Hagman, Executive Editor

Quatercentenary kabuki theater in Japan is a “queer” theater. That is not so much to say that kabuki is an all-male theater, in which male actors play women’s roles, as to note how radically this art form has altered the connotations of the word “kabuki.” Just as with the word “queer,” the implication of which has changed fundamentally over the years, the meanings of the word “kabuki”—nominalized from a verb, kabuku (to lean; to act and/or dress in a peculiar and queer manner)—have transformed dramatically. Not only did it shift from a generic word (that which is eccentric, deviant, queer, and the like) to a proper noun (this theater), but its connotations also altered tremendously from something negative to something positive. That is, kabuki theater was born as a kabuki thing—merely another stray entertainment among many, which was considered akin to prostitution—and ended up proudly styling itself the kabuki theater. With a checkered past marked by bans, shutdowns, exile, and even capital punishment for the parties concerned, kabuki—once a theater of rebellion for the common people—is now one of four classical genres of Japanese theater that the nation proudly presents to the world, along with noh (a medieval Buddhist theater a few centuries older than kabuki), kyōgen (a theater of mime and speech that accompanies noh), and bunraku (a puppet theater), all of which are all-male theater.

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