Feb. 18, 2004

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Contact: Bill Tsutsui, Department of History, 864-9435, .

Anthropologist to speak at KU on why students became WWII kamikaze pilots

LAWRENCE -- An expert in Japanese anthropology next month will discuss why Japanese university students volunteered for kamikaze missions during World War II. Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney, professor of anthropology at the University of Madison-Wisconsin, will speak at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 11, at the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas.

Ohnuki-Tierney's presentation, "Doomed by Idealism? Death, Cherry Blossoms and the Intellectual Trajectories of Japan's Tokkotai (Kamikaze) Pilots," is the third annual Grant Goodman Distinguished Lecture in Japanese Studies at KU. The lecture is free and open to the public.

An expert in the social, cultural and symbolic anthropology of Japan, Ohnuki-Tierney is the William F. Vilas research professor of anthropology at Wisconsin, where she also earned her Ph.D. Her presentation will draw upon her extensive research in wartime diaries and archives and will examine the reasons that idealistic, highly educated and cosmopolitan Japanese university students volunteered for suicide missions in World War II. She has written 12 books in English and Japanese, including "The Monkey as Mirror: Symbolic Transformations in Japanese History and Ritual" (1987), "Rice as Self: Japanese Identities Through Time (1993)" and "Kamikaze, Cherry Blossoms and Nationalisms: The Militarization of Aesthetics in Japanese History" (2002). Ohnuki-Tierney has received Guggenheim, National Endowment for the Humanities and Japan Foundation fellowships, and she is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The Grant Goodman Distinguished Lecture in Japanese Studies is sponsored by the Center for East Asian Studies at KU. Goodman is a professor emeritus of history at KU, specializing in Japanese history and in Japan's cultural relations with South and Southeast Asia. A lifelong advocate for Asian studies at KU and across the nation, Goodman directed KU's Center for East Asian Studies during its formative years. He has written, edited or co-edited 15 books and more than 60 articles. He has served as a visiting professor at universities throughout Asia and Europe.

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