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An Anthropology of Ba

Place and Performance Co-emerging

Gaku Kajimaru, Caitlin Coker and Kazuhiro Kazama eds

ISBN: 9784814003518

pub. date: 03/21

Written Language: English

Publisher: Kyoto University Press & Trans Pacific Press

  • Price : JPY 3,200 (with tax: JPY 3,520)
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Do places influence human behavior?
In everyday thinking, spaces and places are generally seen as empty vessels where human activity occurs. Digging a bit deeper, we can distinguish spaces from places: places are spaces that have meanings attached — an empty room becomes a classroom or a bedroom depending on what people do in it. Focusing on the Japanese concept ba — usually translated as ‘place’ — these studies recognize that places imbued with social meaning influence human behavior. Ba takes into account the social context, the norms that dictate behavior, the mood of a place, and the individual’s feelings about it. Conceptualized as ba, places limit and direct what we can do, and in the process, shape who we are. Drawing from a wide array of ethnographic studies, this collection illustrates various ways in which place and human agency co-emerge


Caitlin Coker
Associate Professor at Hokkaido University’s School of Humanities and Human Science. Coker completed a PhD in Cultural Anthropology at Kyoto University in 2017. Her research focuses on physical experience and performance, specifically butoh and pole dancing, as topics and practice-based methods to develop anthropological theory and thought.

Gaku Kajimaru
Assistant Professor of Kyoto University. Kajimaru completed a PhD in Anthropology. His research interest is reciprocal singing of Buyi (China), Lao (Laos) and Japan, and the social aspect of Japanese folk song. He was awarded the 13th Tokugawa Munemasa Award and the 31st Tanabe Hisao Prize.

Shuji Kamimoto
Associate Professor of Kurume University. Kamimoto’s research interest is in spirituality and locality in Jamaica and Japan. He also produces songs for regional

Eriko Kawanishi
Lecturer at Professional Institute of International Fashion. Kawanishi was awarded a PhD at the Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies at Kyoto University. She is an anthropologist of the Goddess movement, contemporary Paganism, alternative spirituality, sacred landscapes and spiritual tourism, who conducted fieldwork mainly in Glastonbury, UK.

Masaharu Kawano
Associate Professor of Tokyo Metropolitan University. Kawano specializes in Cultural Anthropology and completed a PhD in International Political Economy. His research interest is in traditional authority and ritual practice in Pohnpei, Micronesia. He was awarded the 19th Japanese Society for Oceanic Studies Prize in 2020.

Kazuhiro Kazama
Professor of Kyoto University. Kazama is an anthropologist who conducted long-term fieldwork on Tabiteuea Atoll in Kiribati and shorter research among the Gilbertese speakers in Fiji. His research interests include cross-cultural encounters, and an ethnographic approach to the study of historical memory and emotions in Oceania.

Ulara Tamura
Associate Professor at Kanazawa University. Tamura is an anthropologist who has conducted fieldwork mainly in Turkey from 2002. Her research interest includes how local people deal with the transformation of traditions under globalization. She received her PhD at Kyoto University in 2011, with a dissertation titled “The Life-world of Local Craft Articulated with the Global Market Economy: The Preservation and Transformation of Carpet Production in Southwest Turkey” which was published in Japan in 2013.

Fumi Watanabe
Assistant Professor of Doshisha University. She completed a PhD in Anthropology at Kyoto University. Her research interest is in art(s) and material cultures in Oceania. She was awarded the 14th Japanese Society for Oceanic Studies Prize in 2014 for research published on Red Wave art in Fiji.

Tatsuya Yamamoto
Associate Professor of Shizuoka University. His research interest is in consumption and production of popular music by Tibetan refugees in India and Nepal. He was awarded the 3rd Japan Consortium for Area Studies (JCAS) Award (Toryu-sho (Budding Scholar) Category) in 2013 for research related to the essay in the present volume.



Introduction: An Anthropology of Ba
Gaku Kajimaru, Caitlin Coker, and Kazuhiro Kazama

Part I: Co-emergence of Ba and Actor
1. Butoh and the Cabaret:
How the place of striptease fueled avant-garde performance
in Japan Caitlin Coker
2. Space for Competition and Place for Participation:
Two Contrasting Sides of a Japanese Folk Song Contest
Gaku Kajimaru
3. Ritual Performance and Agency of Ba:
Hierarchy and Mood at Ceremonial Feasts in
Pohnpei, Micronesia Masaharu Kawano

Part II: Performative Translocality
4. Performing Turkish Culture:
The Inclusiveness of the Largest Y ru k Festival in
Contemporary Turkey Ulara Tamura
5. Creating Oceania:
Place and Ba of the Festival of Pacific Arts Fumi Watanabe
6. Performers' Two Bodies/ Double Consciousness:
Performers and Traditional Repertoire in Tibetan
Refugee Society Tatsuya Yamamoto
7. Conflicts Create Ba and Agency:
How E.A.B.I.C. Rastafarians Occupy the World Shuji Kamimoto
8. After Fieldwork:
Vestiges in/from a Fieldworker Eriko Kawanishi