Special Session -- Geographies of Asia panel(s)
Translating landscapes of Japan in the early 1950s from the perspective of an American Geographer living temporarily in Tokyo
Tom Waldichuk, Department of Environment, Culture, & Society, Thompson Rivers University
The early 1950s in Japan was a period of peace and stability. R.A. Davidson (2021) calls this period “…a lull between the two Showa-era upheavals of war(,) and rapid development and urbanization….” For recently arrived foreigners Japan was an interesting place to explore. How did these people translate the landscapes around them? What stood out? Geographers have noted that most people have a difficult time reading the landscape. Yi Fu Tuan, the Chinese American geographer, talked about how landscape interpretations of the local resident are different from those of the wealthy visitor. One can relate these landscape perception differences to sense of place. For example, in the early 1950s, the coastal community of Atami was commonly known as “the Riviera of Japan,” an image which obviously lured some tourists. Seventy years later, has this sense of place changed? How have landscape perceptions changed? The objective of this presentation is to discuss how visitors to Japan have translated or interpreted what they see in the landscape. What have they noticed first? What words have they used to describe what they see? How does this translate into Japanese? I discuss this translation using examples from Japan in the early 1950s through the photographs of a young America geographer. The preliminary findings are that the visitor/local dichotomy and sense of place influence landscape translation, and nuanced differences in meaning exist, depending upon the words that are used, e.g., landscape, scenery, or in Japanese, keikan or fukei. The principal conclusion is that, whereas learning to read the landscape is difficult, communicating landscape translation from one language to another is also a challenge.
World-Ecological Reflections on the South Korean “Miracle”
Kyle Gibson, Lecturer of Social Sciences (Environmental Studies), Yale-NUS College at the National University of Singapore
South Korea’s “compressed modernization” (c.1960-1990) has led many to offer it as a model for “developing countries” to emulate (Amsden 1989). Contemporary South Korea is, however, a society besieged by socio-ecological challenges (Eder 1996). Although typically framed as aberrations of the development process that can be remedied through reform strategies, I argue that problems like the acceleration of daily life, food dependence, and environmental degradation are inherently connected to the particular kind of “development” it pursued under US hegemonic leadership during the Cold War. Drawing on the work of critical geographers like Jason W. Moore (2015) and Jim Glassman (2018), I analyze the twentieth-century South Korean experience as a lens through which to highlight the violence, “creative destruction,” and socio-ecological contradictions of capitalist modernization more generally.
Encountering rapid mobility and world-classness in transport paraphernalia
Yogi Joseph, PhD candidate, Department of Geography, Planning and Environment, Concordia University
The planning, funding and implementation of public transport projects is steeped in discourses of world-classness, particularly in Indian cities (Siemiatycki, 2006). Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) are not merely technical documents; in the absence of integration with development plans, they act as a key source of project related information such as alignment, technology, projected ridership and fares. This information is dissipated among lay people through project websites, vernacular news media, public relations campaigns and social media campaigns. Such campaigns often feature inclusionary ideas of women and child-friendliness, cleanliness, barrier-free access, and integration with other modes of public transport and intermediate public transport. I argue that such ideas often get circulated in policy making circles because they originate in the same consultant's office that prepares DPRs for many metrorail projects in Indian cities. However, the lived realities of these infrastructures often paint a very different picture. Using the case of Kochi and Ahmedabad's metrorail systems, I argue that the transport projects create isolated pockets/ribbons of "world-classness," disjointed from their immediate surroundings and from the lived realities of many low-income public transit users they aim to attract. This work would add to the growing list of scholars such as Goldman (2011) and Randhawa (2012) who view infrastructures as a key components of the worlding project