Panel 1

I. Who Moves in the Past? Culture Contact, Knowledge Production, and Heritage
Chairs: Yujie Pu and Brett Kaufman, East Asian Languages and Cultures and Classics, UIUC

Global and local perceptions of the past are traditionally conceived of as dichotomous to each other. “Global” invites connotations of shared humanity, interconnectedness, urban cosmopolitanism, and at times, colonialism, whereas “local” is associated with sustainability, indigeneity, rurality, and at times, populism and nationalism. Another related dichotomy is that of mobility versus stasis, which has traditionally focused on the dangerous movement, migration, or invasion of “foreigners” as opposed to profitable movements made by traders, itinerant craftspeople, and through marriage alliances. As historians, anthropologists, and archaeologists have come to challenge these notions and recognize that the global is indeed the sum of its diverse and multifaceted local parts, in this panel we invite a revisitation of the common question “Who owns the past?”, casting it in terms of mobility and memory – Who moves in the past? What moves in the past? How does the creation and migration of traditional knowledge – including medicinal, scientific, and ecological knowledges – inform scholarship today as the voices of descendant communities across the world are increasingly and necessarily being included in scholarly research design? Finally, how does who moves in the past shape who owns the future?

Helaine Silverman, Anthropology, UIUC
“Affiliative Reterritorialization and the Manco Capac Monument of the Japanese Community in Peru”

The history of our species is a complex story of mass migration, beginning with “out of Africa” about 100,000 years ago and continuing. Historic examples include the Irish fleeing the Potato Famine, eastern and southern Europeans escaping persecution or poverty at the turn of the twentieth century, the upheaval caused by the partition of India at mid-century, and now North African and Middle Eastern refugees, motivated by war and instability. All of these recent migrations have faced contentious issues of acceptance, integration and/or accommodation in their new homes. Less dramatic examples of group migration also can contribute meaningfully to a humanities-focused perspective on migration. One such case is that of the Japanese migration to Peru, which began at the end of the nineteenth century and continued for the next twenty-five years. This colonia japonesa maintained its ethnic identity yet sought to emplace itself in the nation through a process I call “affiliative reterritorialization” whereby the migrant group asserts its participation and place in the new nation, but from a diasporic position of anxiety. The occasion of Peru’s independence centenary in 1921 offered the ideal opportunity for the colonia japonesa to celebrate their success in Peru, demonstrate their negotiated “Peruvianess” and thank their host country. They drew on a shared mythology and donated to the nation a grand statue of Manco Capac, the legendary founder of the Inca Empire. They argued that the Incas were an “empire of the sun” just as Japan was an “empire of the sun.” The placement, subsequent history and evolving interpretation of the Manco Capac monument reflects changing population movement in and to Lima as well as evolving geopolitical relations between Peru and Japan, the situation of the Japanese in Peru, and fast-moving Peruvian political realities. The monument is a fascinating window into global as well as deeply national and local forces that affect all migrations.

Yujie Pu, East Asian Languages and Cultures, UIUC
“Madness as a Curable Illness: Legal Justice and Medical Authority in Qing China (1644-1912)”

Current scholarship examines the history of madness and psychiatry in Qing China primarily from a point of reference—the movement of Western psychiatric ideas and practices to China within the colonial context during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Therefore, the regulation of the mentally ill in the late Qing was considered as an institutional advancement in the wake of Western involvement. In contrast, the mobility of multifaceted indigenous knowledges and practices was often reduced to be a linear or static image waiting the coming of modern Western psychiatry for being transformed into mental illness. My study aims to challenge this view by exploring when and how medical certification was legally required for homicide suspects suffering from insanity. It argues that the adoption of the term “mental illness” (jingshenbing) in the late-Qing legal reform should not be considered as a product of modernization and Westernization solely. Instead, it was a culmination of imperial institutional innovations which cannot be understood without an appreciation for an increasing engagement of Chinese professional doctors in the juridical field since the mid-eighteenth century. Since the mid-eighteenth century, local officials began to rely on Chinese medical practitioners on their own initiative in the trials of suspects suffering from “mad illness” (fengbing), and this legal practice was brought to the legislative level in 1806.

There was no Chinese equivalent term for “insanity defense” throughout the Qing. However, due to the imperial state’s growing dependence on doctors to recognize and treat homicide suspects’ madness, the Qing rulers in fact concurred with Chinese medical notions of insanity: Lunatics were not in control of themselves. Local officials put forward the “defense” and were relying on medical assessments to identify the authenticity of madness and treat the suspect’s mad illness. They meted out sentences on suspects contingent upon the duration of the treatment of the illness. This change marked the emergence of the authority of Chinese medical professionals in defining madness and in providing treatment for mad suspects before the introduction of Western psychiatry to China.

Rayed Khedher, Arabic, Wake Forest University
The Power of Asabiyya: Tunisian Migrants Navigate “Illegality”

Migration scholars have overlooked the links between human mobility, revolutions, and popular movements. Further, the literature has underestimated migrants’ agency and subjectivity, instead offering a framework in which migrants “are represented as destitute and frustrated people driven by economic and/or humanitarian needs in an increasingly globalized society” (Aarau & Huysmans 2009:586). I argue that this assessment of migrants as powerless victims no longer holds true in light of migrants increasing empowerment and political participation. In fact, Tunisian irregular migrants in Italy have now become significant actors in their struggles that involve freedom of mobility, cultural recognition, worker protections, and the right to asylum.

Based on a multi-sited ethnographic research conducted in Sicily, I expand migration literature by examining the dialectical relationship between migrants’ concepts of empowerment, agency, and political participation. I demonstrate how social cohesion (asabiyya) and notions of freedom (hurriya) and dignity (karama) were catalysts for the 2011 Tunisian popular uprising and for the subsequent migration of Tunisians to Italy. Further, these three notions framed migrants’ resistance to their mistreatment by Italians. I theorize that the study participants’ shared experiences of poverty, exclusion and marginalization contribute to the strong social ties that bind them. The solidarity network that is carefully crafted by these migrants exemplifies Ibn Khaldun’s notion of al asabiyya. This khaldunian notion translates to group cohesion which is characterized by unity, solidarity, and a collective consciousness (Ibn Khaldun 1996). In fact, al asabiyya, which is embedded in their marginalized Tunisian township (Hay Ettadhamen), ‘migrates’ across the border and provides a vital source of support through the various stages of migration. Asabiyya binds migrants together, informs their decision to depart, and softens  the sea crossing. Moreover, it forms the basis of the social networks that sustain them in Italy, providing them with  emotional support, mutual trust, economic sustenance, and survival strategies.

Drawing upon their strong sense of social cohesion or asabiyya, Tunisian migrants create social networks through which they pursue these ideals and resist Italian oppression. Tunisian migrants use local and transnational social networks to establish support mechanisms and to reinforce feelings of solidarity, trust, and loyalty.

These networks not only reinforce a sense of community, but also frequently challenge Italy’s national sovereignty and its ability to control its borders. I analyze how these men resist, disrupting and unsettling the hegemonic Italian border narrative. Such resistance informed by asabiyya, hurriya, and karama, enables them to become more politically active. They become increasingly empowered by entering new sites of struggle where they are able to “assert agency in navigating, negotiating, and resisting border controls” (Rygel 2011:13).