The Script of Difference. Cultural Representation in the Japanese Katakana

Blai Guarne, Postdoctoral Fellow, Anthropology, Stanford University

Katakana is a syllabic script used mainly to transcribe gairaigo ("foreign words") into Japanese and to express emphasis, onomatopoeia and other particular issues in written communication. Writing a loanword in katakana shapes the "borrowed" term into the Japanese phonological system while marking it in a singular script. Thus, the katakana performs an ambivalent writing practice that embodies a difference maintaining it located in social experience. Guarné will discuss this multifaceted role of the katakana script in the cultural (re)production of difference in a globalized Japan.

Blai Guarné is an associate professor of anthropology at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona and a member of the Inter-Asia Research Group at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona. He is currently a visiting postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Anthropology at Stanford University funded by the Generalitat de Catalunya (Catalan Autonomous Government). Previously, he was a visiting researcher in the Department of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Tokyo funded by the Japanese Government. During his tenure at the University of Tokyo, he conducted fieldwork focusing on cultural production of difference in a globalized Japan. His current research interests range from visual culture to postcolonial and cultural studies.

Monday, November 16, 2009 | 4:15 pm — 5:30 pm
Philippines Conference Room, Encina Hall, 3rd Floor

Center for East Asian Studies