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AP Forum: Student Presentations, October 27


Tina Liu, Felix Borthwick, Jingxuan Zhang

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

Tina Liu—Technological Labyrinth: Researching in a Film Archive and Edward Yang

This presentation draws upon my research experience at the Taiwan Film & Audiovisual Institute during the summer of 2023. It explores how a filmic text can be approached differently if considering its materiality and history of circulation. In which ways, it seeks to ask, a film can be recontextualized not just in the context of film history but also within its own lifetime. It takes Edward Yang’s Floating Weeds (1981), a television film directed by Yang before his debut feature film, as a case study to compare the technological transitions experienced by directors in the 1980s with the pervasive influence of digital media over the past decade. The protagonist of Floating Weeds, navigating the prospects of new media in Taipei and ultimately finding herself no home to return to, offers a moral that prompts reevaluation of the current media environment.

Felix Borthwick—Beyond Nostalgia: Walking Tours of Post-Growth Japan’s Housing Estates

In contemporary urban Japan, postwar housing estates (danchi) are taking on a new life. While their residential populations are currently shrinking, aging, and growing increasingly precarious, danchi have become an object of interest for a different type of community: ‘danchi maniacs’, fans of these estates who coordinate various activities related to them. The most consistent of these activities is the ‘water tower tour’ - a once-monthly walking tour of various danchi around the Tokyo region, ostensibly focused on the specific water towers often found at these estates. Based on participant observation conducted during the summer of 2023, this talk analyzes the ‘water tower tour’ as a practice of forming affective relations between participants and the material legacy of Japan’s recent past as embodied in the danchi. Drawing on Yael Navaro-Yashin's notion of ‘affective geography’ and Susan Schuppli’s notion of the ‘material witness’, I consider how participation in these tours and participants’ keen focus on minor architectural details – playground equipment, building numbers, nameplates, manholes – acts as a collective process of reinterpreting postwar modernity as a form of ‘Japanese’ vernacular in the contemporary moment. Through this process, these sites allow for new articulations of urban belonging in post-growth Japan that work explicitly through the historical legacy of the built environment.

Jingxuan Zhang—My First Descriptions of the Asian American Classical Music Communities in the Dallas Area

The Janet B. Chiang Grant funded summer research that confirmed a pre-dissertation hunch. I lean on the affects of wonderment and the pleasures of confirmation often conveyed in anthropological writing via describing the ethnographer's arrival in the fieldsite, to also spin out threads of difficulty that seem to trouble my thinking around the topic. I first introduce the "social and bodily geography of the practice room" that form the core of my hunch as _theoretical_scaffolding. Then I shift to the shock of the ethnographic arrival, and attempt to bring out the multisensorial geography of Asian American classical music communities. Finally, I try to think through classical music variously as 1) a structure of assimilation which enhances difference, 2) a resource of everyday survival that is also complicit in neoliberal subject formation, and 3) a muddy site of contestation on which is projected musical/sonic home- and dream-making across generations. The proprioceptive repetition of music as skill building and the performative repetition of music as subject formation hover in the background as I try to imagine classical music's radical everyday possibilities, and acknowledge without being bogged down by its various structural complicities.