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Media Studies

Traces of Vietnam: Personal, Public, and Archival Memory

Evyn Le Espiritu (2013); Mentor(s): Jonathan Hall

Abstract: Envisioned as a filmic triptych, "Traces of Vietnam: Personal, Public, and Archival Memory" theorizes how memory both constitutes and challenges official history and nationalist discourse. Drawing on interviews, videos, and online documents, the second piece of this film triptych investigates “public memory” through the figure of my great-uncle, RVN Colonel Ho Ngoc Can. Publicly executed by the Communists in 1975, Colonel Ho Ngoc Can is memorialized as a hero by both his followers in America as well as his family in Vietnam. Despite public suppression of such claims to heroism by both the current Communist government of Vietnam -- whose narrative of national unity denies the legitimacy of the Republic of Vietnam -- as well as the American state—whose narratives of both intervention and subsequent benevolent aid efface the strength of the South Vietnamese soldiers -- Vietnamese American communities continue to commemorate Colonel Ho Ngoc Can, staging elaborate memorials for him, naming streets after him, and posting information online about him. Although their veneration is less public and more nuanced -- partially due to their continued presence in Vietnam -- Colonel Ho Ngoc Can’s family members also sustain his memory, adding personal stories of his kindness and generosity to qualify the public narratives of his heroism.
Funding Provided by: Brian Stonehill Memorial Fund for Student Research in Media Studies

Naked Festival: The Queer Photography of Yato Tamotsu

Brendan Gillett (2014); Mentor(s): Jonathan Hall

Abstract: While there is a long tradition of queer Japanese art, there is at once a lack of attention paid to the members of the community itself and few public spaces for the presentation and consumption of queer Japanese artists' works. One of the most influential figures to emerge at the beginnings of the post-war queer Japanese arts community is Yato Tamotsu. Yato worked in film, creating thousands of black and white images of Japanese masculinity, male bodies, and rituals imbued with a queer male aesthetic. In particular, his book Hadaka Matsuri, or "Naked Festival," was equal parts ethnography of Japanese rituals and an examination of the male body's place in Japanese culture. The book is hailed as a key work within its context, yet it is relatively unknown in larger circles. For many years, Yato's negatives were thought lost. Professor Jonathan Hall of Pomona's Media Studies Department has spoken with publishers, artists, and historians about a new collection of photos and essays that would help to revive Yato's photography and establish his importance to a broader audience. Part of this process is digitizing the negatives to facilitate the selection process. This summer, I spent four weeks scanning and cataloging over 1,000 negatives. This was the first time that some of these negatives have been examined and preserved, a rare opportunity indeed. Along with the scanning, I began to find patterns and examine the various elements that went into creating these photos.
Funding Provided by: Pomona College SURP

Writing for Democracy: Independent Journalism During Nigeria's Military Dictatorships

Efe Kabba (2013); Mentor(s): Jonathan Hall

Abstract: Inspired by events that forced my father to flee Nigeria in 1994, my research seeks to uncover the stories of journalists who wrote for independent newspapers between 1988 and 1995, when two military governments controlled the majority of the press in Nigeria. Individual personal interviewing was the primary research method used as the final product will be a short form documentary film. Additionally, secondary information research facilitated my understanding of the history of media and government in post-Independence Nigeria. Through my research, I discovered that under the rule of the two military dictators, those who voiced dissenting views were silenced, punished and even murdered. Many of the journalists I interviewed wrote for privately owned newspapers because they disagreed with the with the corrupt politics of those military regimes. And although the journalists varied in levels of extremism, they all shared the desire to eliminate corruption and establish democracy in Nigeria.
Funding Provided by: Pomona College SURP