Seminar: "Remembering Colonial Experiences: Palauan Elders' Stories"

The below is quoted directly from a press release circulated by the UH-M Center for Pacific Islands Studies:

by Maki Mita, National Museum of Ethnology, Japan

Date:  27 January 2010
Time:    12:00 noon
Place:        UHM Moore Hall 319

In the Japanese colonial period, Palauan children faced discrimination as "islanders." At the same time, they were educated in the Japanese language and value system, and as "the emperor's children (imperial people)" they were integrated into an extended empire. How do the Palauan elders remember these experiences, and how do they recount their histories to a young Japanese researcher?    The experiences of the past can be told in a variety of ways. In order to permit interpretation of oral histories without losing sight of their fluid character, we should attend to what is remembered and how the story is told, rather than treating the narrative as a bare record of events. In this presentation, Maki Mita describes her dialogues with several Palauan elders regarding their colonial experiences, and analyzes them to extract their messages. She also examines how the interviewer influences the storytelling and discusses the potential of such dialogues about the past to be a foundation for a new relationship.

Dr Maki Mita is a research fellow of the National Museum of Ethnology, in Japan. She lived in Palau (Belau) from 2004 to 2007 as a visiting researcher at the Belau National Museum, and conducted interviews with Palauan elders. She also researched and curated an exhibition on the Japanese colonial period. Recently, Mita published the oral histories, in English, of 58 of her informants. She has a PhD in human and environmental studies from Kyoto University, in Japan. Her field is cultural anthropology, and her main research areas are Okinawa and Palau.

The seminar is cosponsored by the UHM Center for Pacific Islands Studies, the UHM Department of Anthropology, and the UHM Center for Japanese Studies.

For information and disability access, please call the Center for Pacific Islands Studies at 956-7700.


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