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[Canceled] The Politics of Satire: Representation and Reaction in Japan and the United States

Wednesday, March 4, 2015   19:00 - 21:00

  • Ben Karp (ICAS adjunct fellow, historian and scholar of ethnic representation in the U.S. and Japan)
  • Ronald Stewart (Associate Professor, Department of Life Sciences, Prefectural University of Hiroshima)
  • James D. J. Brown

This event is canceled. We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause.

Political satire uses humor to challenge authority and despite its cathartic effects, may provoke outrage as it subverts deeply felt values and beliefs. In recent years we have seen the power of satire to offend and infuriate its intended and sometimes collateral targets, extreme examples being the 2006 Danish cartoon controversy and the deadly riots that followed, and this year’s tragic Charlie Hebdo incident. Subsequent to this historic event, a similar attack in Copenhagen has brought further attention to this issue, which has provoked a world-wide examination of the rights, limits and consequences of political satire and free speech, especially amid inter-ethnic and religious tensions.

This panel will discuss and map the parameters of free speech and its political implications, in a world fraught with ethnic and religious tensions that finds little humor in the sardonic wit of political commentators and humorists. The panelists for this special symposium will address how mass media in Japan and the United States have employed ethnic and racial imagery towards political, satirical and commercial ends. What have been the political and social reactions to racial, ethnic and religious depictions in the media of these two countries? How does this differ from Japan and the United States?

The panelists will engage these questions in an effort to illuminate both the terrible events in Europe and provide a more global and historical perspective. The panelists are Ronald Stewart (by video link) of the Prefectural University of Hiroshima, an expert on Japan’s history of cartooning and humor, and Ben Karp, a historian and scholar of ethnic representation in the U.S. and Japan, who will discuss how satire can nurture both racism and anti-racism, often simultaneously.

Date & Time:
Wednesday, March 4, 2015   19:00 - 21:00 (Doors open at 18:30)
2F, Azabu Hall
Temple University, Japan Campus
2-8-12 Minami Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Kyle Cleveland (ICAS Associate Director)
This event is canceled.


Ben Karp

ICAS adjunct fellow, historian and scholar of ethnic representation in the U.S. and Japan

Ben Karp is an ICAS Fellow, who holds degrees in English, history and African American Studies from Goucher College and Yale University. He is a founder of the Eliezer Society, described by Time Magazine as an organization which has “attracted some of the world’s most influential speakers,” and has worked on political campaigns, including as a finance chair of Senator Cory Booker’s first campaign for mayor of Newark, New Jersey. Ben came to Japan in 2002, establishing a jewelry distribution business, developing points of sale at Mitsukoshi and other major Japanese department stores. He has also worked in Tokyo as a business consultant and guest taught and lectured on a range of subjects, and has published articles and been quoted in The Asahi Shimbun/International Herald Tribune, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Daily Beast.

Ronald Stewart

Associate Professor, Department of Life Sciences, Prefectural University of Hiroshima

Ronald Stewart is an Australian scholar with a long interest in political cartoons. Ronald completed his Masters and PhD in cultural history at Nagoya University. From this time his research had centered on early twentieth century cartoon magazines, cartoon representations of the Other, and manga history. In recent years he has been focusing on contemporary cartooning, and is now conducting comparative research on Japanese and US political cartoons supported by a Grant-in-Aid of Scientific Research from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

James D. J. Brown