Thursday, March 9 : Jessa Dahl

Please join us next week as the East Asia: Transregional Histories Workshop welcomes our own


Jessa Dahl

PhD Student, University of Chicago

“After Dejima: Nagasaki’s ‘Heroic Women’ and Networks of International Exchange, 1827-1899”

Thursday, March 9th

4:00PM – 6:00PM

John Hope Franklin Room (SSR 224)


Jessa will be presenting an early draft of her dissertation proposal, which centers on personal and professional networks managed by women in nineteenth century Nagasaki. Jessa describes her project as follows:


As a treaty port community, Nagasaki experienced the dynamism of Japan’s entry into the nineteenth century international system first hand. Unlike the other treaty ports, however, Nagasaki was built upon already extant personal and professional networks of intercultural exchange that were over two hundred years old. It was also the only treaty port in which a small cohort of women participated prominently the most vital networks of exchange including international trade, the exchange of ideas and technology, diplomacy and even prostitution. My research will show that these two developments are not coincidental. I will argue that Nagasaki’s history as an established site of international exchange provided a base for the subsequent dynamic transformation that allowed these women to capitalize on the opportunities that were afforded to them. By showing how these women and their networks adapted to and transformed under the new treaty port system, I hope to explore what conditions made their success possible and illustrate how kaikoku (lit. “opening of the country”) and Japan’s subsequent modernization transformed local sites of international exchange.


As always, first-time attendees are welcome. Light refreshments and snacks will be served.


If you have any questions or require assistance to attend, please contact Jessa Dahl at or Erin Newton at

WED 11/30 5 PM : Kyle Gardner

Kyle Gardner

University of Chicago

“The Space Between: Trade, Cosmology, and Modes of Seeing in Independent Ladakh”

WED, Nov. 30th 5:00-7:00 PM

John Hope Franklin Room, SSR 224


Matthew Lowenstein, University of Chicago History Department

Please join us for Kyle Gardner’s presentation of a chapter from his dissertation on Wednesday, November 30th at 4 PM in the John Hope Franklin Room (SSR 224). In addition to providing historical background of the making and demise of Ladakh (a region in the northwest Himalayan mountain range), “The Space Between: Trade, Cosmology and Modes of Seeing in Independent Ladakh” explores how four indigenous modes of viewing space–cosmological, political, linguistic, and material–created multiple modes of seeing that space.

Kyle’s paper can be accessed through at the East Asia: Transregional Histories workshop website. The password is “cosmology”

As always, first-time attendees are welcome. Light refreshments and snacks will be served.

If you have any questions or require assistance to attend, please contact Jessa Dahl at or Erin Newton at

3/4 – “Space and Region” Roundtable Discussion

A joint endeavor with the Art and Politics of East Asia Workshop

An open discussion about the nature of “space” and “region” in relation to the study of East Asia.

Discussants:  Scott Aalgaard (PhD student, EALC), Susan Su (PhD student, EALC), Nic Wong (Phd student, CMLT)

Date/Time: 3pm to 5pm

Venue: Center for East Asian Studies Media Room (CEAS 319 1155 E 60th St.)

D Ryan Gray, Mar 12

Our last meeting of the quarter will be a joint session with the Interdisciplinary Archaeology Workshop. In place of a precirculated paper, the speaker will give a PowerPoint presentation for 30-40 minutes followed by discussion.

D. Ryan Gray
Graduate student in the Department of Anthropology
University of Chicago

“Identity and the Material Dimensions of Public and Private Practice: Archaeology of a Chinese Laundry in New Orleans

March 12 Thursday 4:00-5:30 pm
Haskell Hall Mezzanine, Room 102

Abstract:  While the lives of Asian-American immigrants in the American West have attracted considerable attention from an archaeological perspective, the subject has been little studied in the East, and even less so in the southern United States.  Excavations at the site of a laundry operated by a Chinese immigrant in New Orleans, Louisiana, between 1890 and 1920 offer an opportunity to examine the complex place occupied by Asian-Americans in a society increasingly structured by the starkly dualistic racial hierarchy of Jim Crow segregation.  Historic documents examined in this paper emphasize the often ambiguous social position of immigrant Chinese in New Orleans culture, with records demonstrating unclear and conflicting racial designations, shifting names, and domestic arrangements that seem to have violated the letter of the law.  While in the turn-of-the-century West,early Chinese immigrants appeared to have often maintained a unique or distinctive material culture, both publicly and privately, artifacts associated with the excavated laundry suggest that their counterparts in New Orleans understood the tenuousness of their position in the city.  The resident laundryman utilized items that could be characterized as Chinese only in the most private settings of his home life, part of a strategy to avoid bringing attention to any difference that, within the Jim Crow South, would have been interpreted as evidence of a racialized inferiority.  In doing so, the immigrant was able to exploit a place in the city both embedded within the fabric of the everyday but testing the possibilities of its margins.