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History

Eti! East Africa Speaks

Brown, Arielle ('11);  Lemelle, Sidney

Eti East Africa Speaks was a theatre exchange that united eleven prominent east African theatre artists from Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania for a 3.5-week residency at Dartmouth College and in NYC. The exchange was to create alliances with likeminded American artists. The performances aroused dialogue amongst many American and international artists. The topics of the plays varied from political exile, genocide, public servitude and women’s rights. In my residency, I served as the documentarian for the exchange. While researching, I studied various scholars of east African theatre. A personal interview with Ngugi wa Thiong’o contextualized the politics of performance as well as the transaction of cultural exchange. This informed the vision for the documentary. The documentary will explore the terms of cultural and artistic exchange. In addition, the documentary will explore voyeurism in American consumption of east African theatre, as well as social responsibility when creating East African theatre.
Funding provided by: The Aubrey H. and Eileen J. Seed Award

(Horizontal) Drilling Into History: Mining the Stories of a North Dakota Town

Kendall, Sara ('10);  Miller, Char

The barren landscape along the western edge of North Dakota is undergoing a drastic transformation. The development of extraction technology and the steady increase of oil prices have triggered the drilling of nearly two hundred new oil wells in the region in under a year. As a result, the collection of isolated, shrinking farm towns scattered throughout the area are currently facing an onslaught of moneyed interest and an influx of unanticipated royalty checks. This summer I spent a month in the town of Stanley, working alongside a documentary film crew to record the stories of local residents and landowners, city officials, oil company employees and transient rig workers. The voices I collected are woven into a piece of creative non-fiction, an article that explores the history of desire projected on this shifting landscape, the prospects for social and cultural sustainability in the community, and my own lessons in geography.
Funding provided by: Hart Institute for American History

The Gender Politics of Military Prostitution During the Korean War (1950-53): American Military Masculinity

Kim, Eunice ('10);  Yamashita, Samuel

The emergence of military prostitution in the Republic of Korea during the Korean War (1950-53) was facilitated by the construction of a distinct American military masculinity. An examination of the archives of the Pacific Stars and Stripes (PS&S), a military newspaper, reveals two representations of the American soldier and his perceptions of war. Situating war as a necessary evil, the PS&S primarily portrays the American soldier as a reluctant hero, an "average guy" torn from home to defend against Communist aggression. Amidst this nationalist idealization, however, also lies a second portrayal of burdened, overworked, and under-appreciated American men and war as sensational escapism. The convergence of these two representations, male soldiers’ entitlement to feminine comfort as recompense for patriotic sacrifice and lust for exoticism, contributed to the development of an extremely physical, highly sexualized understanding of women’s bodies as objects meant to soothe and entertain the male soldier’s gaze.
Funding provided by: Hart Institute for American History

Japanese American in World War II Era Japan

Ohigashi, Darci ('09);  Yamashita, Samuel

The focus of my research was second-generation Japanese Americans who traveled to Japan, attended school there, and eventually returned to the United States. These Japanese Americans are known as "kibei", or "returning Americans," and I looked chiefly at "kibei" in the pre- through post-World War II era (1930-1960). Although many "kibei" received at least part of their education in Japan, their primary motivations for moving there were not exclusively educational. Often they returned to Japan for family reasons, such as the death of a relative, or adoption by heirless relatives. In addition to reading secondary sources about "kibei" and other Japanese Americans, I also conducted life history interviews with two "kibei" men, both of whom were in Japan during World War II. In my ongoing research, I am also analyzing the published memoirs and oral histories of nineteen other "kibei" and ten works that include testimony from other Japanese Americans.
Funding provided by: Hart Institute for American History

The Evolution of the Depiction of Vietnamese in American Vietnam War Film

Schutt, Ryan ('09);  Yamashita, Samuel

Hollywood films, widely distributed and readily consumed by viewers around the globe, are important sources of information. Public perceptions of various cultures, ideologies, and events are profoundly shaped by what is depicted on screen. However, film’s status as a relatively new form of media has caused it to be neglected by historians until recently. With this medium reaching such a vast audience, it is of vital importance to analyze the representation of history in film and determine its significance. The investigation focuses on the depiction of Vietnamese in American Vietnam War film, a subject that highlights the war film’s ability to act as a political barometer given the distorted portrayals of the conflict in order to align with dominant ideologies. Hollywood’s inadequate examination of the complex questions of race, gender, nationality, and politics surrounding the war demonstrate a resistance to come to terms with this dark period in American history.
Funding provided by: Hart Institute for American History

Hail, Pomona, Hail: The Alma Mater and Blackface Minstrelsy

Winston, Cyrus ('10);  Lemelle, Sidney;  Bruce, Kim

It was Parent Weekend in February 2008 when a number of flyers were posted around campus. These flyers depicted a page from a music history book describing the history of school songs, casually noting that the song that became the alma mater was written for a blackface minstrel show. The administration created a council of students and professors tasked with researching the topic, as well come to a conclusion about what would be done. All documents were found at the Special Collections room at Honnold Library, or at the Alumni House. Research revealed that the song Hail, Pomona, Hail, was indeed written for a blackface performance performed in the 1910 sports season. The goal of the performance was to raise money for the sports teams. This was common for that era. This particular history is well documented in The Student Life, and in an array of photographic evidence.
Funding provided by: Hart Institute for American History

Early Chinese Americans: Clothing and Identity

Yu, Patricia ('09);  Yamashita, Samuel

Clothing operates as more than just protection against the elements;  it serves as a social signifier, indicating a person’s position within society, and can be used to construct identities, changing the way one is viewed by others. I consulted photographs and sources from the Chinese American Museum and the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California, along with other writings, to examine the clothing’s role in the identity construction of early Chinese Americans. The American public accused these immigrants of being inassimilable and ridiculed “Chinese” clothing and queues, but Qing dynasty regulations required Chinese men to wear the queue and of course, they dressed in a distinctive way. Although Chinese women were not subject to Qing stipulations regarding appearance, they nonetheless often appear in photographs wearing Chinese dress, even when their husbands have adopted Western suits. What factors did these early immigrants consider when deciding between Chinese clothing or American clothing?
Funding provided by: Hart Institute for American History

Research at Pomona