Asia and the Pacific have long appeared in German culture, ever since Germany’s colonization of the Pacific in the 19th century.
“At the end of World War II, Germany was forced to relinquish its colonies in the Pacific,” said Christina Gerhardt, assistant professor of German at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.“That’s a long time ago, almost 100 years. The relationship between Asia, the Pacific and Germany predates colonization.”
The Center for Korean Studies at UH Mānoa will host a two-day conference titled “Asia and the Pacific in German Culture” on Feb. 14-15 that will explore the depths of Germany’s relationship with Asia and the Pacific in matters of travel, trade, politics, philosophy, literature and art. According to sophomore music major Caitlin Cavarocchi, students have an opportunity to learn about German orientalism and Pacific history during the two-day event.
“It’s always cool to learn about other cultures,” Cavarocchi said. “As a student at UH, I think it would be extremely worthwhile because we live in a state, as well as attend a university, with a largely diverse community, especially dealing with Asian culture.”
Students are encouraged to attend this free event to gain a fresh perspective on Asia and Pacific cultures and their far-reaching influences on the world, according to associate professor of history Margot A. Henriksen.
“I think that it would be very interesting for them (students) to learn about that,” Henriksen said. “I’m suspecting that not too many people would know about that. I think that people in Hawai’i really should learn about important encounters that have taken place. … Not all are bad.”
It’s important for the student body to educate themselves on culture and the impacts it makes on society, according to Vanessa Maldonado, a freshman music major.
“It’s important for us (students) to realize the impact culture can have on society, no matter how different the cultures may seem,” Maldonado said.
The first day of the conference will cover Germany’s connection with Pacific islands, such as Samoa, New Zealand and Tonga, and the influences that developed on the fields of art, anthropology and politics. Keynote speaker James Bade, professor of German at the University of Auckland, will headline day one of the conference followed by performances from the German Club, the Samoan Club and the South Asian Club, which will coincide with Aaja Nachle Hawai‘i Indian Dances.
The Royal Hawaiian Band will hold a performance on day two of the conference with keynote speaker Doug McGetchin, a history professor at the University of Florida Atlantic, immediately following. McGethchin will discuss “The Specter Haunting German Orientalism: Edward Said’s Influence on the Study of Germans, India and the British Empire” with conference panels conferring about philosophies of India as well as Southeast Asia’s relationship with literature and cinema.
Professor Sai Bhatawadekar will give the endnote address covering the present and future of German Orientalism. All events are free and open to students and the public. Day one of the conference will commence from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m., while day two of the conference will host the Royal Hawaiian Band from 8-9 a.m. with the rest of the conference taking place from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.