Roslynn Ang

PhD Candidate, Department of East Asian Studies, GSAS

Synopsis of Research in Shanghai (September 4- November 28): 

Indigenous minorities practice precarious modes of sociality and culture, as expressions of culture have higher potential to be misrecognized, despite their dependence on state support. However, these expressions do generate alternate social worlds and new interpretations through their everyday practices. Ang’s dissertation problematizes structures of entrapment within narrow definitions of race and culture in contemporary settler-colonial Japan, and explores a sovereign form of social relations and performative expressions within non-professional Ainu performance groups in Sapporo, Hokkaido. The Ainu of Hokkaido were colonized by Japan in late 19th century, assimilated and became culturally and phenotypically similar to most Japanese today. How do these Ainu performance groups persist in practicing and performing their traditional culture, despite the generations of forced assimilation, discrimination, state control, lack of recognition and the commercialization of their traditions? What are the affects and effects of their ‘work’ in their everyday lives and during their performances? Ang explores the production of social and cultural ties in a community through music-making, dance moves, representations and embodied performance in both everyday lives and the stage. Due to the influx of China tour groups into Hokkaido, with regular visits to recreated Ainu village in Shiraoi and various performance sites, she intends to interview (in Mandarin Chinese) several major tour companies in Shanghai. An analysis of the communications behind the organization of these tours and audience reception of these performances will show the complex social networks behind these performances and representational shifts on the Ainu. Ang’s fellowship in Shanghai will be spent on these interviews and writing her dissertation.

Last Name
PhD Candidate, Department of East Asian Studies, GSAS
Fellows Type
GRI Fellowship
GRI Fellows semester
Fall 2017