Morgan Pitelka

Morgan Pitelka is Associate Professor of Asian Studies at Occidental College. He has published Japanese Tea Culture: Art, History, and Practice   (Routledge, 2003), Handmade Culture: Raku Potters, Patrons, and Tea Practitioners (University of Hawaii Press, 2005), and What's the Use of Art? Asian Visual and Material Culture in Context (University of Hawaii Press, 2007).

Updated June 2007

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Little Tokyo Community Profiles

Engaging the Community: Occidental College’s 2009 Partnership with Discover Nikkei

This spring, ten students in the Occidental College Asian Studies seminar “Japanophilia” had the opportunity to get to know some of the business leaders of the Japanese American community in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. The seminar is unusual, looking at the historical connection between Japanese self-identity and Western fascination with Japanese culture, while also considering the complex interconnections among race, gender, power, and identity around similar issues in the U.S. today. One of my goals as the instructor of the course is to encourage students to be more reflexive about their own identities, their involvement in consumer culture, and ...

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On Japanophilia: Collecting, Authenticity, and Making Identity

Japanophilia, or the obsession with things Japanese and the idea of Japan, has a long history. Although the term implies a rather unhealthy passion, Japanophiles have by no means been marginal figures, but rather some of the key players in the history of Euro -American encounters with Japan. In the spring of 2007, I taught a seminar at Occidental College that explored the history of Japanophilia, starting with the arrival of Europeans in Japan in the 16th century, and ending with contemporary manifestations of Japanophilia in Los Angeles. Three of the most important goals of the class were 1) to ...

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