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We're moving! To continue reading about our books and journals, please head over to our new site: http://dukeupress.wordpress.com/
Don't forget to sign up for email notifications at the new site so you'll never miss a post!
In The Left Side of History: World War II and the Unfulfilled Promise of Communism in Eastern Europe, Kristen Ghodsee tells the stories of fighters and activists who worked for Communist ideals in Bulgaria and shows how the dreams of the Communist past hold enduring appeal for those currently disappointed by the promises of democracy. The book is coming in January 2015. Watch the trailer now!
Guest Editors: David Gramling and Aniruddha Dutta
Special Issue on Translating Transgender
Submissions of 4000-9000 words (in any language). Due March 1, 2015 for publication in Spring 2016
Few primary and secondary texts about transgender lives and ideas have been translated from language to language in any formal way over the centuries. Meanwhile, transgender, gender variant, and gender non-confirming people have often been exiles, translators, language mediators, and multilinguals in greater numbers and intensities historically than their cisgender counterparts have. This kind of positionality among languages has become a generative, yet often precarious aspect of trans* embodiment. Nonetheless, the discourses of transgender studies (as in the neighboring fields of LGBT / queer studies) continue to be more Anglophone, more monolingual, and less translated than they historically ought to be, given how the subjects that produced those discourses have often been prototypes of transnational and translingual border-crossing. This paradox continues to constrain disciplinary and conceptual agendas around sexuality and gender a great deal more than in other fields that have enjoyed consistent state and institutional support as well as access to international distribution pathways. This is an important problem for transgender studies in the coming decades because an Anglophone disciplinary and discursive disposition will continue to lead policy-makers, public intellectuals, and academics to fall back on ethnocentric and monolingual frameworks and resources. It perpetuates a hierarchical conceptual economy, with Anglophone and West European linguacultures at the top and trans and queer vernaculars in other languages either at the bottom of the epistemic order, or sequestered into localist, ethnicized, or neo-Orientalist fetish. If not profoundly transformed, how will this discursive hierarchization impact the multi-directional traffic in trans knowledge and ideas in years ahead? This issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly calls for multilingual and translational critique. This may take the form of:
Initial submissions may be in any language and will be peer-reviewed accordingly. Duke University Press requires publication in English, and we will commission translations of accepted submissions in the latter process of review. Accepted submissions will be published in the original language on TSQ’s Web site. Please send a complete manuscript by March 1, 2015 to tsqjournal[at]gmail[dot]com along with a short abstract and brief bio including name and any institutional affiliation. The expected length for scholarly articles is 4000 to 9000 words, and 1000 to 2000 words for shorter works. All manuscripts should be prepared for anonymous peer review. For articles engaging in scholarly citation, please use the Chicago author-date citation style. Any questions should be addressed to dgl[at]email[dot]arizona[dot]edu.
TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly is co-edited by Paisley Currah and Susan Stryker, and published by Duke University Press, with editorial offices at the University of Arizona’s Institute for LGBT Studies. TSQ aims to be the journal of record for the interdisciplinary field of transgender studies and to promote the widest possible range of perspectives on transgender phenomena broadly defined. Every issue of TSQ is a specially themed issue that also contains regularly recurring features such as reviews, interviews, and opinion pieces. To learn more about the journal and see calls for papers for other issues, visit http://lgbt.arizona.edu/tsq-main. For information about subscriptions, visit http://www.dukeupress.edu/TSQ.
As emerging scholarship in feminist and queer history makes clear, archives contain surprising histories about gender, sexuality and violence, stories that challenge axiomatic, gendered oppositions of power and vulnerability. This issue of Radical History Review hopes to explore these histories, and reassess conflicting narratives of victimization, subjection, retaliation and self-defense in the context of forms of state authority.
Events and developments over the last two centuries—from the expansion of the provocation defense in the nineteenth century, to the collection of rape testimonies in the early twentieth-century, from the torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib, to the recent mass kidnapping of girls in Chibok, Nigeria—convey contradictory messages about race, gender, violence and the role of the state as enforcer, perpetrator or protector. Recent calls for critical re-examination of timeworn notions of male violence and female victimhood suggest the need to interrogate longstanding assumptions about the relationships among gender, violence and the powers of the State.
This special issue of Radical History Review invites critical reflection on gendered violence as a historical, intersectional topic of lasting significance. How have conceptions of masculinity and femininity over time informed the persistence of and punishments for gendered violence? What do the archives reveal about the larger structural factors that perpetuate gendered violence? How have feminist and queer organizing efforts to protect and/or avenge victims, further complicated the legal, penal, and legislative efforts to address gendered violence?
Building on contemporary debates and conversations about feminism, its evolving critique of violence, and some of its blind spots, this issue of Radical History Review seeks to reanimate conversations about gender, violence, resistance, victimization, and the role of the state as arbiter among these categories. We hope to engage histories that reveal how gender and violence are mutually constituted categories of personal, political, cultural and legal subjectivity. And we hope to reconsider the ways in which violence – and narratives of violence – can be used to uphold, resist or reshape the ordering structures of the State.
Potential topics might include:
• Gendered violence as an effect of state dominance
• Women as agents of state violence (e.g., in police, prison, and military contexts)
• Gendered violence and vulnerability within the criminal justice enterprise
• “Lost” histories of gendered political violence and/as effects of archive formation
• Unintended consequences of feminist engagements with violence and anti-violence in the law, such as the imbrication of affirmative self-defense claims (e.g. “stand your ground” laws)
• Legal responses to gendered violence, and its race and class implications for incarceration and control
• Gender implications of popular cultural constructions of state violence
• Sexual assault in the military as instantiating institutionalized, hierarchical state power
• Government efforts to decrease violence against women (and forms of gendered violence)
• Compulsory sterilization and chemical castration programs as strategies of state authority and punishment
The RHR seeks scholarly, monographic research articles, but we also encourage such non-traditional contributions as photo essays, film and book review essays, interviews, brief interventions, “conversations” between scholars and/or activists, and teaching notes and annotated course syllabi for our Teaching Radical History section. Preliminary inquiries can be sent to Lisa Arellano (firstname.lastname@example.org), Amanda Frisken (email@example.com), and Erica Ball (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Procedures for submission of articles: At this time we are requesting abstracts that are no longer than 400 words; these are due by February 1, 2015 and should be submitted electronically as an attachment to email@example.com with “Issue 126 submission” in the subject line. By March 31, 2015, authors will be notified whether they should submit a full version of their article to undergo the peer review process. The due date for completed drafts of articles is July 1, 2015. An invitation to submit a full article does not guarantee publication; publication depends on the peer review process and the overall shape the journal issue will take. Please send any images as low-resolution digital files embedded in a Word document along with the text. If chosen for publication, you will need to send high-resolution image files (.jpg or .tif files at a minimum of 300 dpi), and secure written permission to reprint all images. Authors must also secure permissions for any other media that they may wish to include with their articles in the online version of the journal. Those articles selected for publication after the peer review process will be included in issue 126 of Radical History Review, scheduled to appear in Fall 2016.
Abstract Deadline: February 1, 2015
The incoming editors of French Historical Studies (FHS), Kay Edwards and Carol Harrison, discuss the future of the journal under their joint editorship, including information about forthcoming special issues and what topics they would like to see submitted to the journal. See the most recent issue here, and subscribe to the journal here.
How would you like to shape French Historical Studies in the future?
CAROL: In the future I think we’d like to continue some trends that we see in the field and that FHS is starting to reflect, publishing a lot about France and French history beyond the borders of metropolitan France. There will be more colonial material, which is where the field is going. We have exciting material on South East Asia and North Africa in the pipeline now that is being submitted.
KAY: We've also said that we've wanted to expand the chronological framework. FHS is open to anyone working in France or in these related fields over pretty much any chronology. But our submissions currently do tend to be much more modern. We want to get people who are doing medieval work or late antique work to think of us as well, since we definitely are a highly ranked scholarly publishing venue.
How do you see the journal developing over the next few years?
KAY: I would like to see us broadening the journal not just chronologically and in terms of international content, but also in terms of broadening it to more of an international academic audience. We currently are getting more and more submissions from German and Scandinavian lands, we've always gotten a few French, but we’d like to broaden our European, East Asian, African, Latin American base.
CAROL: I think we have a couple of ideas or projects on board now that are also about reminding the rest of the historical profession of how important French history is and how important French historians are to the rest of the profession. So I would say Michael Breen’s forum for instance. We have a group of articles by young French social historians that we’re arranging to translate into English to publish in the journal. I think this is important because social history is a much more lively tradition in France right now than it is in the Anglophone world. These are scholars who unless you work in French history and read French and keep up with things in France, you probably don’t know about. I think scholars outside of French history should read this forum to find out what’s going on in French history, and particularly in French social history. Similarly, we’ve got a special issue coming up in 2017 that we've just started planning on archives so we’re recruiting scholars who will be writing about archives not just as neutral repositories where the facts are, but as institutions that shape the way history is written, so as active participants in the writing of history. I think that’s the kind of special issue that will remind the rest of the profession that French historians are really crucial to shaping history.
Speaking of special issues, are there any other forthcoming special issues that you would like to talk about? How do you select special issues?
KAY: There is a French food special issue coming out that is primarily a project of the past editors. It is about food very broadly defined in French history. There is an article on coffee, another about WWII and food allocations and foraging, a wide variety of what defines food--not just a recipe book--particularly because France is so strongly associated with food culture.
CAROL: There will be articles on wonderful food, the introduction of coffee, there will be articles on lack of food, hunger, there’s an article on late 19th-century shop girls and their relationship to food, you know where they ate lunch and if they ate lunch. So that’s going to be a very exciting issue. And then further down the pipeline--this is more speculative--but 2018 is the 50th anniversary the events of May 1968. This is another one that I think will be important for FHS and I hope for non-French historians. Nineteen sixty-eight having obviously had a global reach, but the events in France were central. So that’s another one where we’d like to put together articles on France, on the Francophone world outside of France, and think about this anniversary. We would like FHS to lead the way a bit in talking about the German ‘68 and Mexico City ‘68 and Berkeley ‘68 and pull it together.
What would you like researchers to know about the submission process?
KAY: Don’t be afraid to send all different types of articles. Just because we’re FHS doesn't mean we only, as Carol said, do the metropol. There’s probably going to be a conception that we only do cultural stuff because that’s what France is. And the whole point is that we’re trying to get a wide variety of methodologies and subjects and approaches.
Who should be submitting to this journal that hasn't been?
KAY: A lot of early modernists and pre-modernists don’t think they should submit to FHS, in part because the name implies a very national framework that sometimes work and sometimes doesn't.
CAROL: They may be working on a territory that was not in fact called France. But if it’s Francophone, we’d like to see more early modern, medieval, and more French scholars! We do publish in French.
KAY: It does not have to be a translated work. In terms of material, I just want to see diversity. I really don’t want people to assume that because it’s French that it must be cultural or that it must have theoretical work. I have nothing against theoretical work, but I think there may potentially be stereotypes. I would like to see a reconstruction of environmental drainage, as long as this is something that hasn't been done.
CAROL: One thing our predecessors started that I think we want to continue is publishing more editorial pieces. Instead of very closely researched monographs, single author traditional research articles, FHS has been publishing these editorial pieces that are often reflections on the profession. We've published a recent one by David Bell that’s thinking about global history and reflections on the profession generally, on French history, and its role in the globalizing historical profession. I think there is room for developing that kind of editorial piece. We invite people to submit not just the research articles, but editorial articles that reflect the state of the field and the kind of the research that’s being done.
The Journal of Middle East Women's Studies invites feminist scholars working in any discipline or interdisciplinary area in the interpretive social sciences and humanities to submit area-specific manuscripts on any topic related to the theme of "The Gender and Sexuality of Militarization, War and Violence."
Manuscripts may address any historical period related to any part of the region. Manuscripts are expected to substantiate a thesis based on original scholarship grounded in primary sources (literary, visual, archival, textual, ethnographic, artistic, legal, and so on) and to engage with relevant transnational gender and sexuality scholarship. The highest quality manuscripts will be published as articles in a JMEWS themed issue within approximately a year of submission. Submission guidelines may be found at www.jmews.org
Manuscripts are due on or before 15 June 2015 to our online submission system here.
Questions may be directed to jmews[at]dukeupress[dot]edu.
Congratulations to two Duke University Press contributors, Wangechi Mutu and Willie Burch, who have won $50,000 fellowships from United States Artists. United States Artists (USA) invests in the fundamental value individual artists contribute to American society. Representing eight creative disciplines, the award recognizes America’s most accomplished and innovative artists.
Wangechi Mutu's first solo show in the U.S., Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey, began its nationwide tour at Duke University's Nasher Museum of Art in 2013. Duke University Press published the gorgeous full-color catalog for the show. It is now featured at the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University.
Born in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1972, and now based in Brooklyn, Mutu renders the complex global sensibility of the early twenty-first century through a distinctly hybrid aesthetic. She combines found materials and magazine cutouts with sculpture and painted imagery, sampling from sources and phenomena as diverse as African traditions, international politics, the fashion industry, and science fiction. In her work, Mutu marries poetic symbolism with sociopolitical critique to explore issues of gender, race, war, colonialism, and, particularly, the exoticization of the black female body.
Willie Birch's striking black and white illustrations of New Orleans musicians bring the characters in Matt Sakakeeny's 2013 book Roll With It: Brass Bands in the Streets of New Orleans to life. Birch is an international artist who lives in New Orleans, where he was born in 1942. Birch received his BA from Southern University New Orleans in 1969 and his MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in 1973. He is the recipient of many awards and honors, including the State of Louisiana Governor's award and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. His works are part of the permanent collections of the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Congratulations to these two talented artists!
Former Methodist minister Jimmy Creech wrote about his experience fighting for marriage equality for same-sex couples in his book Adam's Gift: A Memoir of a Pastor’s Calling to Defy the Church’s Persecution of Lesbians and Gays in 2011. The book is new in paperback this fall. In this post he writes about his joy after a judge overturned North Carolina's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage on Friday afternoon, October 10.
Like everyone, I didn’t expect and wasn’t prepared for the US Supreme Court’s history-making announcement on Monday, October 6, that opened the door to marriage equality in North Carolina. I expected the court to make a positive ruling, but not before June 2015.
In May, Joni and Gina invited me to officiate at a wedding ceremony for them on October 18. Their plan was to be legally married in the District of Columbia on the 17th, and have a wedding ceremony the next day with their families and friends. While they badly wanted to be legally married in their home state, waiting until June 2015 was just too long a wait. When the US Supreme Court’s decision made their legal marriage in North Carolina a possibility, the three of us were excited that they might not have to wait. However, because The United Methodist Church had taken my credentials of ordination in 1999 because I violated church law by conducting a wedding for two men, someone else would have to conduct the ceremony on the 18th for it to be legal.
On Wednesday, I returned home from an errand to find a message on our answering machine. Ken and Steve, and Michael and Mike, had called to ask if I would conduct a double wedding for them on November 15, should a federal judge declare North Carolina’s ban on same-gender marriage unconstitutional. I’ve known both couples for more than twenty years. Ken and Steve have been together for twenty-eight years and Michael and Mike, for more than twelve. I couldn’t say no to them, and I really wanted to officiate at Joni and Gina’s wedding. But, I didn’t have the credentials.
It was deeply painful to me for many reasons when my credentials were taken away in 1999. Losing the ability to celebrate weddings with loving couples was an especially painful one. Without credentials, I could no longer pronounce a couple married or sign a marriage license. I agonized about what to do now that marriage equality was about to become a reality in North Carolina. I knew I could not regain my credentials from The United Methodist Church; so, I began to search for another way to get the credentials I needed. I discovered the American Marriage Ministries, a non-denominational interfaith church based in Washington State, and was able to obtain from it the necessary credentials to legally officiate weddings.
Friday evening, Chris and I were dressed to go to Durham for a production of The Phantom of the Opera, with our daughter, Natalia. It was late afternoon. We’d waited all day, anticipating an announcement regarding marriage equality in North Carolina. We’d been waiting all week for the announcement, which now seemed wouldn’t come until the following week. Then the news broke a little before 6:00 PM that US District Court Judge Max Cogburn had declared that the North Carolina constitutional marriage amendment, denying same-gender couples the right to marry, was unconstitutional. When the amendment passed in 2012, the pain was excruciating. With the news of Judge Cogburn’s decision, the joy was extravagant! Dressed for the opera, we went down to the Wake County Justice Center where marriage licenses were being issued to same-gender couples. Phantom would have to wait.
As we approached the Justice Center entrance, we were surprised to find Ken and Steve walking just ahead of us. They were preparing to grill hamburgers when they heard the news. Even though they planned a November wedding and had plenty of time to get their license, they couldn’t wait. The day was too historic not to be part of. They left the hamburgers and hurried to the Justice Center. When Ken and Steve saw us, they immediately asked if I’d officiate their wedding as soon as they got their license instead of waiting so it would be legal right away. I enthusiastically agreed. And, so it happened: on the steps of the Wake County Justice Center, with Chris and Lewie Wells as witnesses, Ken and Steve spoke vows of love and fidelity to each other and I pronounced them married! This was the first legal marriage I’ve been able to do since 1999. Ken and Steve still plan to have their ceremony on November 15 for their families and friends, along with Michael and Mike. Now, I look forward to officiating at the marriage of Joni and Gina on October 18.
Chris and I went to the Justice Center to witness history and to be with the same-gender loving couples who had waited so long to enjoy the rights and protections – and respect – that marriage provides. It was an extraordinary scene, filled with laughter, smiles and tears! Ms. Laura Riddick, the Wake County Register of Deeds, graciously extended the hours of her office from its usual closing time of 5:15 to 9:00 PM to accommodate the couples. Her staff was fantastic, greeting the couples with smiles and patiently guiding them through the application process with sincere kindness. One staff person left her station to bring me a tissue so I could dry the tears from my eyes as I watched Ken and Steve fill out the marriage license application.
I’ve never doubted marriage equality would come to North Carolina, as it will come eventually to all fifty states. I just didn’t expect it to come so swiftly and in such a dramatically surprising way. It was ironic, with all the religion-based arguments in support of the NC marriage amendment, that the case upon which Judge Cogburn’s decision was based was a lawsuit brought by the United Church of Christ and other clergy from around the state. They argued that the marriage amendment denied them the free exercise of religion because it denied them the ability to conduct marriage ceremonies for same-gender couples. Not only did the amendment deny the right of same-gender couples to marry in North Carolina and legal recognition to couples married in other states, the amendment made conducting same-gender marriages a punishable illegal act for clergy.
Beyond being history-making, the advent of marriage equality in North Carolina inaugurates a reality of stability, security and protection for same-gender couples heretofore unknown on a personal level. Last night, I saw same-gender couples leaving the Justice Center, walking toward the heart of Raleigh holding hands with a newfound sense of freedom, equality and dignity. Bigotry dies hard and much more work is necessary to achieve full legal equality and social acceptance for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. A big step was taken in North Carolina toward its ultimate demise on Friday, October 10, 2014. We can celebrate!
Sherrie Tucker is Professor of American Studies at the University of Kansas. Her new book is Dance Floor Democracy: The Social Geography of Memory at the Hollywood Canteen. By drawing from oral histories with civilian volunteers and military guests who danced at the wartime nightclub, Tucker complicates the history of the Hollywood Canteen.
What was the Hollywood Canteen? What was special about it?
The Hollywood Canteen was an actual physical place, but it’s also a recurring image and story in World War II home-front nostalgia in the United States. So it’s a place, it’s nostalgia, and, like all nostalgia, it is full of contradictions.
Let’s begin with the place. It was a military recreation center, very much like typical USO clubs of that era, where civilians entertained soldiers. Only at the Hollywood Canteen, most of the people who did the hosting and hostessing worked in the motion picture industry. It was organized by the workers in the guilds and unions, from make-up artists to electricians, secretaries, etc. Most of the volunteers were not movie stars, but among the dishwashers, sandwich makers, doormen, and potential jitterbug partners were some very familiar faces: Deanna Durbin, Lana Turner, and Rita Hayworth, for instance Bette Davis was the president. It was housed in an old wooden barn-like building on Sunset and Cahuenga, where the CNN Building parking garage is. It was in the heart of Hollywood, near lots of other famous places, nightclubs (segregated ones) like the Hollywood Palladium, and tourist attractions.
But it is impossible to talk about the Hollywood Canteen as just a place. It was also more than a place, from the time it opened. It was treated like a nostalgic glimpse into democracy American-style at its best from the very beginning. The story about how it was the pinnacle of democracy was told time and time again in newspapers, movie magazines, newsreels, and later in documentaries and World War II re-enactments and memorials. It was supposed to represent the best of the US civilians—movie stars!—being kind and loving and devoted to the enlisted men. It is still one of those stories that you encounter over and over in World War II home-front nostalgia, montages in documentaries, etc. Usually the images that show up to represent the Hollywood Canteen as the warm and fuzzy side of democracy and patriotism in the US during the “Good War,” is a starlet jitterbugging with an anonymous soldier. It is almost always a white dancing couple, even though there is almost always a reference to the Hollywood Canteen as racially integrated, and that the lack of discrimination on the dance floor was so important to the people who ran it that they fought each other to keep it that way. There is a lot of idealism and longing and contradiction loaded into this strange mix of democracy as epitomized by an integrated dance floor that invariably features a white jitterbugging couple.
Contradictions are the bread and butter of nostalgia. All nostalgia contains contradictions. I mean, that is what nostalgia does! That is why it is so powerful at evoking longing. One definition of nostalgia is a longing for a home that never was. That’s why so many families fight at holidays. They might long to see each other all year round, but that longing might be lodged in different memories, and none of them are remembering exactly what happened. Then they get together and have to confront the difference between the nostalgic longing and actually dealing with each other. They might bicker all through the reunion, and then six months later that feeling might start waving over them again and they start longing for the family again. National nostalgia is similar. It isn’t surprising to find contradictions woven throughout the nostalgia attached to a place like the Hollywood Canteen. What I’m interested in is what this place and the memories attached to it look like from many perspectives of people who were likely to have experienced, processed, and recalled those contradictions in different ways. The people in those film clips and photos, and those who are outside the frame: what were they experiencing? Do they all have the same feelings and memories attached to this physical place? Does any room feel the same to everyone there? Does any couple-dance feel the same to both partners? These are rhetorical questions. All of these things are important aspects of the Hollywood Canteen, the place, the people, its success as nostalgia, the contradictions rolled up in that nostalgic success.
2014 is a big year for cultural icon Hello Kitty. She turns forty! Her creators, the Sanrio Corporation, are celebrating with a convention, HelloKittyCon, October 30-November 2; a Hello Kitty Reading Day on October 25; and with a special exibhit at Los Angeles's Japanese American Museum, "Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty," which opens tomorrow, October 11.
The exhibition is co-curated by Christine R. Yano, Professor and Chair of Anthropology at the University of Hawai`i, Manoa, and author of Pink Globalization: Hello Kitty's Trek across the Pacific. The exhibition examines the colorful history of Hello Kitty and her influence on popular culture. Hello! includes an extensive product survey, with rare and unique items from the Sanrio archives, alongside a selection of innovative contemporary artworks inspired by Hello Kitty and her world. On December 6, Yano will discuss her book at the museum.
Yano recently made news when she revealed in a preview of the exhibition that Hello Kitty is not a cat. "Hello Kitty is not a cat," Yano told the Los Angeles Times. "She's a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat. She's never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature. She does have a pet cat of her own, however, and it's called Charmmy Kitty."
Here's a short excerpt from the conclusion of Pink Globalization, in which Yano explains Hello Kitty's staying power and importance. Read the entire introduction here. Happy Anniversary, Hello Kitty!
Yet she is always Kitty, even as her guises and appropriations slip and slide the semantic terrain. Indeed, the hypermeanings of Hello Kitty — that is, Hello Kitty as the uber-cute, the uber-feminine, and, for some, the uber-Japan — are part of her fetishization. She exists in her very excess, playing it multiply, exoterically. Throughout this tumble, she still manages to shock through the strength of her iconicity. The only way in which consumers might be continually shocked by a Hello Kitty vibrator or gun or tattoo is when these items overturn the image of the mouthless cat: the items undermine our expectations set in a mode of overdetermined market meanings. Each shock reconditions us to a new equilibrium of expectations, a newly calibrated zone of meaning. This gives new meaning to the name of several Sanrio stores in the United States, "Sanrio Surprise." Such constant newness and shock cause one female punk admirer to declare, "Hello Kitty is rock ’n’ roll!" By that, she points to the edginess that rock occupied in its infancy, but her statement may have been more prescient than she realized.
Indeed, as Hello Kitty wears hats both corporate and individual with equal panache, Sanrio’s cat shares the stage with many pop culture expressions who have moved from the margins to the center. Hello Kitty and the pink globalization she leads may be rock and roll to some, but she is inevitably, unabashedly, irreverently, celebratory Japanese Pop. Pure product, her logo appears seemingly everywhere. Look through the Hello Kitty lens — literally and figuratively — and every point of light transforms into Kitty. This is the wow factor, achieved simply as a low-tech wink that is both artful and artless. Moreover, as pop, she provides the ultimate shifting commercial wink upon ourselves. That wink of Japan’s mouthless cat provides important lessons on the politics, pleasures, and aesthetics of foreign-as-familiar commodity play in this age of global desirings.
Excerpt Copyright Duke University Press, 2013.