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AP Forum: Student Presentations, November 3


Alexander Atkins, Faye Ma, Mariko Azuma

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At this third AP Forum of 2023, the following students will share information about the research they conducted during the summer with support from APSI:

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Alexander Atkins—Foguangshan in America: Researching Modern Chinese Buddhism through Participant Observation

I conducted field research in both Raleigh, North Carolina and LA, California focusing on renjian Buddhism in America. This talk will discuss how FGS members view their form of Buddhism as well as how it creates their own world view encouraging them to participate in charity work. I will briefly touch on how COVID-19 changed the temples’ structures for better or worse. Finally, I will discuss the experiences of participate observation in three different settings: the local temple, head temple, and North American conference.


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Mariko Azuma—Welcoming Spaces: The Murai Estate’s Spatial and Photographic Traces

A photograph album dated 1900, currently stored as part of the Rubenstein Special Collections, Edward James Parrish Papers at Duke University, showcases the estate of Japanese tobacco magnate, Murai Kichibei. One particular photograph from the album strikingly presents an eclectic landscape; an imposing dark gate opens in to a neatly trimmed garden, accented by tropical Sotetsu trees that obscure the view of a tiled-roof structure in the background. This photograph, captioned as the “Entrance to Mr. Murai’s Kyoto Residence (Maruyama),” illustrates glimpses of Murai’s interest in hosting and displaying private spaces as part of his commercial and global enterprise. My presentation will introduce formations of early 20th century hospitality expressed through spatial and photographic traces of the Murai Kichibei estate in Kyoto.


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Faye Ma—Vocal Citizenship in "Periods of Silence": Sonic Strategies and Negotiation with the State in Zero-COVID and Post-pandemic China

The Zero-COVID policy left a long-lasting impact on Chinese society. On one hand, after experiencing the rapid expansion of surveillance technology and an economic downturn unprecedented in decades, Chinese citizens’ disillusionment in its government is at an all time high, while interest in political participation is at a nadir. On the other hand, having witnessed countless atrocities caused by government irresponsibility, more citizens are realizing the importance of civil society and mourning its loss to callous authority clampdown. Amid such a political climate, what is one’s everyday experience of the state? How does one reckon one’s citizenship, belonging, and agency? How does one deal with traumatic memories, and where does one find hope?

In this presentation, I will share the findings from my fieldwork in Shanghai in summer 2023. While accounting for a wide range of perspectives, I especially focus on the vocal, sonic, and media practices of Shanghai residents and NGOs during and after the pandemic. I discuss some of their strategies of surviving or penetrating the high-modernist apparatus of governance, and how these strategies resonate with different modes of citizenship and political subjectivity in Chinese history and cultural imaginaries. Ultimately, I treat China’s Zero-COVID campaign and its discontent as a multi-temporal hyperreal and explore the pasts suffusing it and the futures that emerge.