Photographs and audio are now available from the December 16, 2015 event “The Many Worlds of Yamaguchi Yoshiko.” The event was a multidisciplinary mini-workshop exploring the life of Yamaguchi Yoshiko (1920–2014), a Japanese actress, singer, and politician whose remarkably resilient career spanned multiple culture industries, ethnic identifications, and strategic self-reinventions. Audiences in Japan’s wartime empire were introduced to Yamaguchi as the “Manchurian” starlet Li Xianglan (李香蘭; Japanese pronunciation: Ri Kōran), performer of the hit song “China Nights.” In the Fifties, Americans would make her acquaintance as “Shirley Yamaguchi” in such Hollywood B-films as Japanese War Bride as well as, in a more highbrow context, the partner and muse of sculptor Isamu Noguchi. And in postwar Japan, Yamaguchi made her reputation anew as a Diet politician, journalist, and advocate of reparations for Korean “comfort women” (military sex-slaves). Yamaguchi’s passing last year provided a timely occasion to assess her legacy across the multiple cultural and historical terrains her life traversed. The event featured Kim Brandt, Columbia University; Hikari Hori, Columbia University; Miki Kaneda, Boston University; Gregory Pflugfelder, Columbia University; Dan Shao, University of Illinois; Tomi Suzuki, Columbia University; Koji Toba, Waseda University; Hideto Tsuboi, Nichibunken; and Naoki Watanabe, Musashi University
The audio, divided into three sessions, is available on iTunes here.