TITLE: Voices from the Canefields: Folksongs from Japanese Immigrant Workers in Hawaii
SPEAKER: Franklin Odo
EVENT DATE: 09/20/2013
FORMAT: Video + Captions
RUNNING TIME: 57 minutes
TRANSCRIPT: View Transcript (link will open in a new window)
Drawing on research for his recent book, "Voices from the Canefields," author Franklin Odo situates over two hundred songs of Japanese immigrant workers in Hawaii, in translation, in a hitherto largely unexplored historical context.
According to Odo, folk songs are short stories from the souls of common people. Some,like Mexican corridos or Scottish ballads reworked in the Appalachians, are stories of tragic or heroic episodes. Others, like the African American blues, reach from a difficult present back into slavery and forward into a troubled future.
Japanese workers on Hawaii's plantations created their own versions, in form more akin to their traditional tanka or haiku poetry. These holehole bushi describe the experiences of one particular group caught in the global movements of capital, empire, and labor during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Speaker Biography: Franklin S. Odo is a Japanese American author, scholar, activist and historian. Odo has served as the director of the Asian Pacific American Program at the Smithsonian Institution since the program's inception in 1997.
SERIES: Benjamin Botkin Lecture Series