Memories of the Ainu Past and Present

Co-organised by the Japan Society and the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI), this is the third and last in the current series of screenings that revisit Japanese films housed in the RAI’s collection. On this occasion, we are delighted to present two documentaries considering the Ainu people in Japan in terms of ritual, memory and identity.

The main film of the evening is The Ainu Bear Ceremony, a short documentary (27 minutes) made in 1931 by Scottish anthropologist Neil Gordon Munro (1863-1942). A pioneer scholar of the Ainu people in Hokkaido, Munro recorded this traditional Ainu ceremony, now no longer performed, in which a bear was ritually killed and eaten by the participants. Screened will be the shortened, RAI edited 1961 version of The Ainu Bear Ceremony, which removed certain intertitles and images from the original film.

The evening will continue with a screening of extracts from Marcos Centeno Martin’s documentary Ainu. Pathways to Memory (2014, Japanese, English and French with English Subtitles). This film not only aims to recover the history of the Ainu people often erased from the official record and scarred by discrimination, but also to explore what being Ainu means today.

Date: Tuesday 21 March 2017, 7.15pm
Venue: SOAS Alumni Lecture Theatre (SALT)

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