From the Editor-in-Chief

From the Editor-in-Chief 

Dear Reader-

Undertaking a special issue in honor of Professor Roger Janelli was no small matter. It was daunting, needless to say cheeky, to attempt to provide scholarship that both illuminated issues vital to East Asia and that reflected well and well upon the work and approach of Janelli himself. We knew that our success hinged on just the right Guest Editor for the position. We were thrilled when Kyoim Yun agreed to come on board. A long-time mentee of Janelli and a Korean scholar in her own right, Kyoim brought personal and academic knowledge to bear upon this endeavor, investing of herself generously to help us construct an issue worthy of Roger Janelli. We thank her for her painstaking efforts.

And thank you, Professor Janelli.
It has been a pleasure.

Enjoy the issue.

Elizabeth A. Burbach
Folklore Forum


From the Guest Editor

From the Guest Editor

This special issue of Folklore Forum is dedicated to Professor Roger L. Janelli, whose thirty-two years of distinguished scholarship and dedicated mentorship at Indiana University have deeply touched many students and scholars, green and ripened alike. When Curtis Ashton, then Editor-in-Chief of this journal, invited me in Fall 2006 to serve as guest editor for a Festschrift in Janelli’s honor, I gladly welcomed the invitation and was thankful to the current staff members for initiating the project. I approached this task as both a modest expression of my gratitude to Janelli and as an opportunity to draw the attention of fellow folklorists, ethnomusicologists, anthropologists, and other scholars to some of the latest interdisciplinary explorations of East Asia. Deciding which of the submissions should be published was a difficult process. Regretfully, we could not include all the work offered as a tribute to Dr. Janelli, although they reflected well the breadth and depth of his scholarship. Continue reading “From the Guest Editor”

Japanese Folklore Studies and History: Pre-War and Post-War Inflections

Japanese Folklore Studies and History: Pre-War and Post-War Inflections


Adam Bronson
Columbia University

By exploring the relationship of Yanagita Kunio and folklore studies (minzokugaku) in reverse chronology, I argue that latent political and disciplinary concerns undergird minzokugaku’s reputation as a marginalized social science distinct from anthropology and history. The intellectual boundaries among these disciplines were founded on Yanagita’s rejection of anthropology’s Euro-centric comparative framework and history’s concern for elites. Yanagita’s double-rejection partially explains minzokugaku’s marginality within the academy and its appropriation by activists and intellectuals in the post-war era. Continue reading “Japanese Folklore Studies and History: Pre-War and Post-War Inflections”

“Neither Fish nor Fowl”: Constructing Peranakan Identity in Colonial and Post-Colonial Singapore

“Neither Fish nor Fowl”: Constructing Peranakan Identity in Colonial and Post-Colonial Singapore

Patricia Ann Hardwick
Indiana University

This article traces the way in which political processes influence the creation and presentation of Peranakan ethnic identity during the colonial and post-colonial period in Singapore. Peranakan culture combines southern Chinese and Malay traditions and is unique to the nations of Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Peranakan identity began to emerge in the seventeenth century and flourished under the British administration of the Straits Settlements and British Malaya in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Associated with the British colonial system, Peranakan identity was suppressed by early Singaporean nationalists. Aspects of Peranakan identity including women’s costume and Peranakan material culture are currently celebrated by the Singaporean nation as emblems of its unique past, as individuals claiming to be Peranakan are encouraged to assimilate to majority Chinese culture. Continue reading ““Neither Fish nor Fowl”: Constructing Peranakan Identity in Colonial and Post-Colonial Singapore”

Performing the ‘Traditional’ in the South Korean Musical World

Performing the ‘Traditional’ in the South Korean Musical World


Hilary Finchum-Sung
University of San Francisco
University of California at Berkeley

This article examines contemporary, traditional music culture in South Korea through a close look at one South Korean musician, Yi Ji-young. Yi Ji-young, a kayagǔm (12-string zither) performer known for her work with composers of experimental music, has become, for many, a muse through which the emerging genre of new ‘traditional’ or ‘national’ music is finding its voice. Through interviews and a brief examination of her musical lineage, this article highlights the complexities of transforming a musical tradition. The artist’s activities are entwined with discourse regarding tradition in South Korea. While the discourse regarding ‘tradition’ provides an interpretive lens through which music performance can be viewed, the construction of a new traditional music incorporates an artist’s personal experiences, notions of aesthetic validity, and competence. A focus on factors such as these makes possible a more nuanced analysis of the musician’s role in, as well as an appreciation of the contingent nature of, the construction of a contemporary Korean music. Continue reading “Performing the ‘Traditional’ in the South Korean Musical World”

Liminal States: Life as an Indie Musician on Taiwan

Liminal States: Life as an Indie Musician on Taiwan


Mack Hagood
Indiana University

In this paper, I examine the liminal states of Taiwanese guitarist/composer Huang Wan-ting, particularly as these states articulate with similar liminal states of “indie music” and the island of Taiwan. I use the term ‘liminal’ in a non-ritual sense to refer to a structural position on the interstices of recognized roles and identities. In addition, I propose a second type of liminality: a position of choice assumed by subjects for some advantage—in Wan-ting’s case, artistic. As an indie musician, Wan-ting attempts to maintain a position on the edge of the music mainstream, bringing new sounds into popular music. While she has tried to find a Taiwanese political identity through her song lyrics, Wan-ting does not consider herself to be a “Taiwanese musician” and creates music for a transnational indie audience. Wan-ting claims her music is more popular with foreigners than Taiwanese. Like an independent Taiwanese state, her career may need foreign recognition to exist. Continue reading “Liminal States: Life as an Indie Musician on Taiwan”