Loading Events

Memories of the Ainu Past and Present

Tuesday 21 March 2017 at 7.00pm

Lecture theatre SALT, Senate House
SOAS University of London
10 Thornhaugh Street
Russell Square
London WC1H 0XG

Free – booking essential
Book online 

Co-organised by the Japan Society and the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI), this is the third and last in the current series of screenings that revisit Japanese films housed in the RAI’s collection. On this occasion, we are delighted to present two documentaries considering the Ainu people in Japan in terms of ritual, memory and identity.

The main film of the evening is The Ainu Bear Ceremony, a short documentary (27 minutes) made in 1931 by Scottish anthropologist Neil Gordon Munro (1863-1942). A pioneer scholar of the Ainu people in Hokkaido, Munro recorded this traditional Ainu ceremony, now no longer performed, in which a bear was ritually killed and eaten by the participants. Screened will be the shortened, RAI edited 1961 version of The Ainu Bear Ceremony, which removed certain intertitles and images from the original film.

The evening will continue with a screening of extracts from Marcos Centeno Martin’s documentary Ainu. Pathways to Memory (2014, Japanese, English and French with English Subtitles). This film not only aims to recover the history of the Ainu people often erased from the official record and scarred by discrimination, but also to explore what being Ainu means today.

Alongside the screenings, the event will also include a discussion of the films with George Barker from the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI) and Dr Marcos Centeno Martin from SOAS University of London. They will consider the legacy and impact of the Munro documentary and the logic behind the RAI’s 1961 edit as well as the situation of the Ainu people in contemporary Japan. A Q&A with the audience will follow the screenings and the discussion.

The Japan Society’s March lecture may also be of interest; Professor Richard Siddle from Hokkaido University will speak on ‘From Dying Race to Indigenous People: the struggle over Ainu representation in modern Japan’. In this lecture, on Monday 20 March 2017, at Swedenborg Hall, Professor Siddle will provide an overview of modern Ainu history and introduce the Ainu struggle for rights and identity as an indigenous people that has been underway since the 1960s.

To reserve your place, please call the Japan Society office on 020 3075 1996 or email events@japansociety.org.uk or submit the online booking form.