Talk Shop via Zoom: Sightseeing through a Historian’s Eyes:

Material Culture and Its Value to Tourism Promotion and Visitor Education in Japan

Speaker: Morgan Pitelka
Moderator: Frank Walter
Date: Sunday, June 23, 2024 (Saturday, June 22, EDT)

Video link:

Centers of heritage tourism in Japan are overrun with tourists, and many regional cities are trying to promote their cultural heritage to foreign visitors. But the value of these sites, objects, and practices is poorly articulated, leaving visitors at best confused and at worst entirely uninterested.

SWET member and historian Morgan Pitelka joins us to discuss his experiences teaching intro-level students, writing about Japanese archaeological sites, and getting people interested in Japanese culture and history. Our conversation will cover the use of Japanese versus English terminology, how to present important background information, how material culture can be a way to “get in” to Japanese studies, how to translate Japanese views on the historical past for an international audience, and many other topics.

Morgan Pitelka is professor of Asian Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His recent Reading Medieval Ruins: Urban Life and Destruction in Sixteenth-Century Japan was published by Cambridge University Press in 2022. He is also author of Spectatular Accumulation: Material Culture, Tokugawa Ieyasu, and Samurai Sociability (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2015), Handmade Culture: Raku Potters, Patrons and Tea Practitioners in Japan (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2005), and editor of Japanese Tea Culture: Art, History, and Practice (Routledge, 2003).