Note from Erica
I am very excited to be joining Soka University this year as the John D. Montgomery Postdoctoral Fellow in the Pacific Basin Research Center. Over the next year, in addition to working with the PBRC to help create events which will produce and showcase cutting-edge research about the region, I will also teach two courses: Introduction to the Pacific Basin and a course about Latin America in Asia. The PBRC’s focus on promoting the peaceful development of the Asia-Pacific Region, as well as SUA’s mission of fostering its students to be global citizens who contribute to positive change in the world both resonate with my own research interests and teaching philosophy.
Fall Course: Introduction to the Pacific Basin 100
Last year, the Korean performer Psy danced “Gangnam Style” in front of fans in Asia, North America and South America (all places in the Pacific Basin). The more popular he became in the U.S.—performing at the American Music Awards with Hammer and appearing on Ellen and SNL—the more popular he became in South Korea. Only after reaching 100 million Youtube views and sparking flash mobs of the Horsey Dance in colleges in the U.S. was he asked to perform to a massive crowd in Seoul’s City Hall. Instead of becoming popular in Korea and then moving abroad, his value grew in his home country as he moved through countries in the Pacific Basin and gained recognition for Asia in general and Korea in particular. What can we learn about how culture spreads globally (and regionally), and how the local and global are connected through taking a critical look at global phenomenon like Psy?
In this class we will examine the current and historical circulation of people, things and ideas in the Pacific Basin to ask how globalization works and what special significance our region has in the world. Through reading scholarly books and articles, watching feature and documentary films, as well as conducting ethnographic research projects, you will come to learn about different cultures in the Pacific Basin as well as connections between them. Specific topics include transnational families and tradition, economic and educational migration, global belonging, gender, Colonialism, food, garbage, and even Hello Kitty. We will focus on many countries including Tonga and Samoa, New Zealand and Australia, the U.S. and Canada, China, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Brazil and Spain.
As SUA students, you are all particularly connected to many countries in the Pac Basin through your school’s founders, your classmates, the faculty, and your own global trajectories. To explore these connections and help you learn how to design and conduct original research projects, you will have three ethnographic projects in the semester. Your final project will be a group Prezi presentation about the significance of pop culture to the future of the Pac Basin.
To learn more about Erica's research and Classes at Soka, please read "New Gal about Town" in the Summer/Fall 2013 PBRC Update. To learn more about Erica's previous classes, please visit Anthropology News.