University News | August 15, 2017
“What’s your most memorable musical experience?”
Professor Mari Yoshihara from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa asked students this question at the beginning of the lecture. It was an icebreaker that elicited a lot of responses. Some students talked about their memories of playing music while some others spoke about listening to music. “Music was my mental connection to my home country,” said a Japanese student who once studied as an exchange student in Singapore.
As part of the Hokkaido Summer Institute (HSI) 2017, “Seminar in History and Anthropology. Pacific Music Festival 2017: Art, Politics, and Economy” tied in the Pacific Music Festival (PMF), an international educational music festival held annually in Sapporo, and connections with the Ainu, the indigenous people in Hokkaido, as case studies. The course was held from July 18th to 25th to give students an introduction to cultural studies. Fifteen students including ten from overseas participated in the program.
In the lecture, Mari Yoshihara introduced the concept of “Musicking” which consists of any activity and experience in its entirety related to music. She also discussed musicology, historical approaches and anthropological approaches to studying music. The roles of music in colonialism and international politics were also highlighted. In a collaborative session with the PMF, Yoshihara interviewed Maestro Jun Märkl to show how to understand people and their cultural background in a process called ethnography. The students then interviewed the PMF Academy students to put it into practice.
Meng Cao, a student from Nankai University in China, said “I like music from my childhood and wanted to gain a deeper understanding of it. I’m impressed by the professors who make each session so interactive and engaging. I’m really enjoying it.”
Professor Yujin Yaguchi from the University of Tokyo introduced the history of Hokkaido and the Ainu. He stressed the importance of looking at a subject from different angles and other people’s points of view, such as the Ainu’s. He also shed light on complex issues related to cultural heritage and tourism. They later visited the Ainu Museum “Poroto Kotan” in Shiraoi to get firsthand experience of Ainu culture.
Professor Eijun Senaha of Hokkaido University’s Graduate School of Letters, who organized the course, says “With the help of Dr. Yaguchi and Dr. Yoshihara who are both front runners in their respective fields, our course intends to put local subjects in a global context. I want students to be capable of seeing multiple aspects of one subject. I also hope they acknowledge these two professors as role models.”