ANTH 469 B: Special Studies in Anthropology

Meeting Time: 
F 1:30pm - 4:20pm
* *
Joint Sections: 
L ARCH 498 A, JSIS 484 A, JSIS 584 A
Andrea Gevurtz Arai

Syllabus Description:

"Spaces of Creative Resistance in East Asia" 

This seminar course focuses on the spaces, places and creativity of social resistance projects across East Asia. We will explore the socio-cultural and political economic contexts of their emergence, the background and impetus for their participants to become involved; inventive methods of organization, social media as well as offline means of outreach, relationship to the local community, goals and connections with other local, regional and international projects for positive productive change. We will also look at what they produce and how they inspire, how these spaces and their creators disseminate their ideas and build support. We will be interested in their particularities in time, space and place, as well as their international resonances, or how what they do is "accumulative." Moreover, this course will introduce you to the writing and theorizing of scholars of movements for change and those  involved in projects such as these in East Asia and beyond. 

Students in the seminar will be expected to attend our weekly sessions regularly, prepare for seminar discussion by carefully completing all assigned readings and posting their thoughts on the readings in the weekly Canvas online discussion forums prior to class meetings. Students will be asked to help lead discussion one to two times during the quarter. In addition to this weekly work, students will complete, with instructor help and support, one large research paper (15-20 pages) or two smaller papers of (7-8 pages each). Specific instructions for these papers will be provided and discussed at length at the first meeting. As noted below, in addition to taking part in the May workshop linked to this seminar (details below), students who would like, may choose to collaborate on a possible publishable paper in the workshop edited volume.  

As an added benefit this spring, students in this course will have the opportunity to participate in a collaborative international workshop in early May organized by my UW colleague Prof. Jeff Hou and myself ( , Links to an external site. (Links to an external site.)

 (Links to an external site.)Students in the seminar will engage with the work of the participants of our workshop prior to and during the workshop. This group of scholars and activists are located in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Shanghai and due to the current health conditions will be joining us remotely for a 2-day workshop. This is a wonderfully interdisciplinary affiliated with:  cultural geography, anthropology, built environments, population studies, gender studies, social welfare and more. 

This collaborative research group is focused on the social issues of income inequality, irregular or precarious labor, declining birth rates, aging, sustainability and the center-periphery divide. We are focused on bottom-up change and sustainable development, creative forms of coming and working together, building new physical, cultural spaces (as well as discursive ones), and the changing notions of center, periphery, family, work, gender relations and environment in a post-Fukushima, post-labor liberalization and pandemic time. 

Below is a short summary of 6 of the 9 presentations for the May workshop:

Andrea Gevurtz Arai's paper/chapter will focus on specific examples of young people who have left ("dassara-脱っサラ) white collar corporate positions, "turning away" from Tokyo and moving to peripheral towns or cities, as a response to the post-Fukushima triple disasters, labor liberalization and declining population. Arai will discuss her ethnographic fieldwork at the sites of their creative action projects--"rebuilding, reusing and rescuing" abandoned homes and buildings--their D.I.Y. or D.I.T. (T for together) culture; their broad groups of supporters , and use of social media to teach, inform and provide updates of their activities and ideas of family, work and sustainable lives. Arai will discuss their inspirations and connections to other projects past and present across East Asia (and beyond) and think about the millions of vacated spaces in their own right as forms and spaces of resistance. 


Shuyun Cao: The connection between "DMAS" and other similar groups in East Asia is an interesting link to explore in addition to the local activities and networks. Shunyun Cao will focus on her participation in a free space community in Shanghai, their use of the idea of "manuke" from Matsumoto Hajime’s “Shiroto no Ran” as one of the inspirations for this project, and her group of co-creators of this project. She will talk about prior inspirations and connections beyond Shanghai. 


Hyein Chae (UW built environments Ph.D. Student) 

 Hyein will focus on Seoul and Mokp'o (a city in deep southwestern Korea). She will be doing a comparative analysis of their resistance work in the form of creating new collaborative communities in low income areas in Seoul and in the older and less "developed" parts of Mokp'o. She will focus on the young designers and landscape architects who have decided to devote themselves to the sustainable community building model. She will engage with the specific histories and built environments of these two very different parts of South Korea, economically, politically and socio-culturally, and how they are both now connected domestically and with others in other parts of East Asia. 


June Ku is an academic and activist teaching in Taipei and working on a project in the Taiwanese peripheries called "5 Way House" whose goal is to provide an improved and alternative educational experience outside of Taipei.  She will discuss whether this case has inspired other efforts in Taiwan and whether it is replicable as a model. And Prof Ku will engage with the neoliberal changes during the last two decades that have led to increased income inequality, competition and falling birth rates.


Yumi Matsubara (Waseda U.)

Prof Matsubara will discuss her work with social welfare and its relation to aging and low birth issues in Japan. She will look at this from the standpoint of business and population studies. She will explore the top down and bottom up responses from her work with the Japanese government and her interests in local creative projects. She will think about how Japanese women are positioned (as "shadow labor") following the work of sociologist Ueno Chizuko, as the taken-for-granted care-givers of young and old and how these norms and ideas of the gendered division of labor are changing.  


Keisuke Sugano (Kanazawa U.)


Professor Sugano will discuss the three Wajima City revitalization projects with which he is involved. He will situate the projects and his discussion in the backround of "machizukuri" (or town making of different periods in 20th and 21st century Japanese history of center and peripheries. He will focus on his role as a landscape architect and interdisciplinary design and think further about the role of the "designer" in the arenas of sustainability, community revitalization and ongoing relationships between top down and bottom up change. 


 Sampson Wong (scholar and activist)

 Sampson Wong has been involved in the social activism in Hong Kong for the last decade. He is scholar of cultural geography and an active participant in the on-the-ground protests. He will discuss the specific and creative action technologies that Hong Konger's developed and have been used around the world, frop OWS (in 2011) and beyond. 

He will think about the area and possibilities of different forms of creative resistance and what they have learned over the years about  issues of sustainability and broadening of support. 

We will be reading selections from following E-books (Available in UW Libraries), Other readings are available as Pdfs in Files (Workshop papers TBA): 



Catalog Description: 
Delineation and analysis of a specific problem or related problems in anthropology. Offered occasionally by visitors or resident faculty.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Last updated: 
October 18, 2021 - 10:21am