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Special program with Dr. Franklin Odo to celebrate the publication of Voices from the Canefields: Folksongs from Japanese Immigrant Workers in Hawai`i

Voices from the Canefields: Folksongs from Japanese Immigrant Workers in Hawai`i

Special program with Dr. Franklin Odo to celebrate the publication of Voices from the Canefields: Folksongs from Japanese Immigrant Workers in Hawai`i (Oxford University Press, 2013)

(Oxford University Press, 2013)

Date: Thursday, November 7, 2013, 6:00 pm
Location: National Museum of American History Presidential Reception Suite (enter on Constitution Ave.)
1300 Constitution Ave NW
Washington D.C., 20560

6:00 to 6:30 – Book signing
Books will be available for sale
6:30 to 7:30 – Author’s presentation
7:30 to 8:00 – Book signing and refreshments

Event is free, no RSVP necessary.

Voices from the Canefields focuses on folk songs, holehole bushi, from Japanese plantation workers in Hawai`i. Holehole is the Native Hawaiian word for the withered and dying leaves of the sugar cane and the task of stripping them from the stalks. Bushi is the Japanese word for “tune” or “melody.”

This volume is based around the work of Harry Urata (1917-2009), who preserved and perpetuated the music for the holehole bushi. Beginning in the 1960s, he recorded interviews with aging immigrants who had sung these songs on rural plantations and in urban tea houses. As a whole, holehole bushi expresses the experiences of people caught in the global movements of capital, empire, and labor during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In Voices from the Canefields, author Franklin Odo situates over two hundred of these songs, in translation, in a hitherto largely unexplored historical context.

Franklin Odo was the founding director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. He has also served as acting chief of the Asian Division of the Library of Congress, and he is currently leading the National Park Service initiative to address the under-representation of designations of Asian Pacific American historic sites. He will be accompanied by Glen Hirabayashi on the ukulele.

“Make room for another musical icon of regional America! Simple, direct, and powerful, the holehole bushi tradition shatters cultural stereotypes and grounds this niche of the Japanese American experience in its stark and trying historical reality. Historian Franklin Odo has parlayed Harry Minoru Urata’s decades of song-hunting into a spectacular, engaging, and eye-opening view of a seminal Japanese American regional tradition.”

–Daniel Sheehy, director and curator, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

Co-sponsored by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, Our American Journey: Smithsonian Immigration/Migration Initiative, and the National Museum of American History.

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