I been a little lax this past month, I have been super busy finalising projects, presenting, planning publication submissions (exciting) as well as just, you know, living!
I presented my first piece of work on gender passing as a PGR student to a none history audience on my APS Faculty Day at LJMU. It was a fantastic day, really engaging presentations and a good way of just enjoying and engaging with people’s research. It was also particularly memorable because I won the Award for Best Presentation for the day on my beloved Harry Stokes, along Adam Scott who is a Criminal Justice PhD Candidate.
My parallel session was part of the Diversities in Society with two other speakers. Professor Rachel McLean’s opening session looked at how corporate companies use social media to engages with the public as well as their fans. It is safe to safe that nowadays anyone can contact their favourite company and they can rant (or rave) about its products. Companies seem to be more accessible to their fan base and of course, critics. Social media allows fans and corporations to communicate and interact at each other. Depending on the complaint or response this can help a brand become more solid.
An example that McLean explored was when a local police force had asked for help on the owner of a car that was busted and had a lot of marijuana in it. An individual commented on the image asking, ‘where is the party at?’ With that, the police responded, ‘well if you bring the Jaffa cakes we’ll message the details’. In turn, McVities Jaffa Cakes responsed, ‘ello, ello, ello did someone say Jaffa cakes?’ Thus, there was communication between very distinct people and diverse groups brought together by social media who otherwise would not have communicated.
Although I did not necessarily agree with the police’s original response to the comment, as it seemed to advocate drug abuse and make it look like a joke, considering the police’s lacking and dwindling authority of the police on the street. However, I did think it was a great way of breaking the idea and bringing different types of corporations together as well as showing the public that these companies are run by people like us.
The second session in my group looked at Spanish immigration and globalization in film. Again, fascinating stuff! Marta Suarez Ferandes discussed the clear and visible hispanotropicalism that is clear in Spanish film. This is clear from how people are stereotypes, to the racism that is still visible in Spanish culture today. Fernandes used the example of Cola Cau which is a Spanish chocolate milk (like Nesquick or Milo). On the branding of the product it is extremely reminiscent of African people working in the field, inevitably with slavery connotations.
Fernandes went on to explore how people were portrayed in Spanish film (typically a house keeper who represent the ‘good’ Spaniards). For instance, in immigrant films, the immigrant would be portrayed as having a Muslim faith and the Spaniard being secular despite Spain being a known Catholic and religious country.
Finally, Jennifer Lynch spoke about Missing Hair and Added Sparkle within Japanese art in order to identify if the subjects were men or women. Jennifer look at how the gender of samurai’s and geisha’s can be obscured and at times questioned in Japanese art. However, as she opened with, you only do not see it because you do not know what to look for.
Jennifer noted that a samurai could be identified by three things:
- the visibility of swords – usually two – in the picture
- a shaved section of the head that shows how far the samurai has been in his journey
- the visibility of a penis (or engaging in penetrative sex)
During her period of research, Edojidai (1603-1868), naked bodies were not see as attractive or sexually appealing (unlike the Victorians if we compare it). Instead, the fabric that clothed the body was considered more attractive because it was material that would not have been accessible to all people. Therefore, the body would be completely shrouded with the material with only the penis being visible to confirm that they were men.
The last point that Jennifer discussed looked at how we read Japanese art – literally the opposite of what we think! Due to the Japanese reading from right to left, we have to do that with their art as well to interpret it correctly.
For instance, look at this image of ‘Under the Wave of Kannagawa’
With our Western eye, we see a wave completely swallowing up the 3 boats in the picture as well as dwarfing Mount Fuji in that background. It shows the power of mother nature VS the inferiority of man. However, if we read it as a Japanese artist would, we see how man battles the elements, it pushes through the difficulty of nature and shows the perseverance of man. Two completely different reading of the same picture.
The APS faculty day was fantastic and all participants should be proud of themselves! I only wish I was able to visit all the papers that day!