As educators, we are asked to reorient globalization toward a fractured conception of the global. Once filled with flow and circulatory metaphors, the rhetoric now is often one of exploding borders between disciplines. We are urged to engage with a range of irresolvable frictions, scattered fragments, and disunities. Fukiyose, literally “blown together,” is a Japanese narrative device where unexpected accretions of discrete people and things come together, transformed in creative and collective ways. How might this aesthetic reorient our understanding of the material legacies of the Japanese presence in Southeast Asia?
Inter-Asian patchwork impulses in the Tokugawa (1600-1868) period counter the narrative of Japan’s “sakoku,”or isolationist policy. Locally and historically situated aesthetics, like fukiyose, may be applied to counter the current globalizing rhetoric. When we consider being “blown together” rather than “exploded apart,” we can revisit the question: how enduring was Japan’s trading legacy in Southeast Asia? What aesthetic, political and commercial impacts did Japanese traders, adventurers, and colonists have on local Southeast Asian societies? What impacts do overseas connections continue to have on Japan’s and Southeast Asia’s own internal artistic, economic and political developments today? This panel seeks to explore an historical patchwork of inter-Asian aesthetics—made materially evident in anything from architecture to cinema; textiles to paper theater; shadow play to paint—as it reflects the Japanese presence in Southeast Asia before and after World War II.