As part of its strategic focus on cultural competence, the University of Sydney Library has been working to improve the sense of cultural safety experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in its spaces.
One of these initiatives is the digital placemaking artwork that has just been installed on the display on screens in the Library’s foyers, and the video wall in ThinkSpace. It can also be viewed on YouTube.
Commissioned via a competitive Expression of Interest (EOI) process, the work was produced by Jazz Money, a Wiradjuri woman, poet and artist who practises across film, installation, audio and web. Jazz is the 2020 winner of the David Unaipon Award from the State Library of Queensland. Her first collection of poetry will be published by UQP in 2021.
Jazz’s beautiful silent video piece is titled YILABARA (‘now’ in Gadigal language). Conceptually, this short film is a dialogue with Gadigal Country, contrasting the University campus with the landscape of Ku-ring-gai National Park. The film elicits the relationship between the contemporary built environment and the landscape that existed for millennia before colonisation. The footage is overlaid with an Acknowledgment of Country poem written by Jazz, that appears both in Gadigal and English.
The overarching message is that no matter what interventions occupy the surface, the land on which the libraries are situated always was and always will be Gadigal Country.
Please take the time to reflect on and enjoy Jazz’s beautiful work.
Don’t miss this new exhibition, featuring many of the great classics of science fiction from our Rare Books and Special Collections. It was curated by Library staff member Mark Sanfilippo, who chose the items, produced the descriptions, and even wrote and performed the theme music – which you can listen to on Soundcloud.
The exhibition is titled in honour of the Australian syndicated newspaper comic strip, Frontiers of Science, created here at the University of Sydney and published internationally from 1961-82. Its aim was to disseminate scientific knowledge in an easily comprehensible way, during the height of the Cold War between Soviet Union and America.
The exhibition features works from both The Frontiers of Science strips and our SF collections. It explores classic SF themes: space travel, artificial intelligence, aliens and alien civilisations, light speed, life in the future, astronomy, celestial bodies, planets, galaxies, solar systems and many more of the realms where imagination rules.
Check out Frontiers of Science Fiction from Monday 1 March in the Level 2 Exhibition Space in Fisher Library.
The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere: to propagate or to be propagated is an East Asian Collection exhibition that feature wartime propaganda posters and photograph. A physical display is currently on level 4, Fisher Library.
CONTENT WARNING: The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere: to propagate or to be propagated analyses and critiques visual representations of the political rationalisation strategies of the Japanese Empire during World War II from a historical perspective. The following post contains politically biased contents, including romanticisation and celebration of colonialism and racially vilifying imagery. The post does not reflect the views of the Library or the curator.
The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere: to propagate or to be propagated
The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere (GEACPS, 1931-15 August 1945) was a supranational framework consisting of the Empire of Japan’s colonial territories within geographical proximity near the metropolis from, but not limited to, Empire of Manchuria, Republic of China, Kingdom of Thailand, State of Burma, to Provisional Government of Free India. (See “Map of East and South-East Asia” below for the visualisation of countries’ geographical proximity to Tokyo, Japan).
Such geographical proximity influenced not only the structure of the colonial administration and racial hierarchies in the empire, but also the rhetorical strategies to legitimise colonial rule.
The ideology of the Japanese colonial empire to prosper Asia under its leadership preached the unity of the GEACPS, reflective of Pan-Asianism, with an established system to not only advance each nation’s economic role, but also assimilate politically, culturally, and linguistically. Although the intention was perceived skewed and geared towards Japan’s welfare specifically her economic and military interests, the mass media censored and controlled by the government reinforced amicable and constructive impression on colonisation and wartime assimilation, away from the realities of violence and inequality.
The wartime posters and photographs, exclusively censored, produced, and publicised, were pictorial instruments of the belligerent governments within the interconnected scheme of systematic rationalisation and justification. The propaganda of Imperial Japan oriented towards rationalising the conquest, justifying colonial rule and idealising war mission to mobilise the Empire of Japan during the Second World War as the “liberator” of Asia from Western colonialism and the “builder of new order”.
At the core of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere was Pan-Asianism that promoted the political and economic unity and cooperation of Asian peoples by depicting the war as a “race war” against the West, led by the United States and the British Empire. Pan-Asianism, which emerged in the late 19th century, was an ideology advocated and actively promoted by Japan to wield influence over the colonised territories and retain dominance through voluntary assimilation. Pan-Asianism was an instrument to legitimise the conquest and the subsequent colonial rule of Imperial Japan as the “liberator” of Asia from Western colonialism by encouraging patriotism to seek social equality through the expression of loyalty to a transcendental emperor. Hideki Tojo (1884–1948), Prime Minister of Japan during the World War II, praised the “spiritual essence” of Greater East Asia, which he contrasted with the “materialistic civilisation” of the West during the Greater East Asian Conference of 1943 (Tokyo, 5-6 November 1943) – which was responded by the members of the conference pledging solidarity in pursuing a race war. While encouraging peoples of the colonised territories to follow, Japan encouraged the Japanese army to lead. The ‘Read This and the War is Won’ booklet intended for the Japanese army unfurled Imperial Japan’s banner that it is a duty of the Great Power of Orient to stabilise Asia and emancipate its oppressed peoples “emasculated by generations of colonial subjugation, with blood and colour linked to that of Japanese… [and] make men of them again and lead them along the path of liberation”.
 John W. Dower, War Without Mercy: Race & Power in the Pacific War (New York: Pantheon Books, c.1986), 24-25.
The poster as a strategic means of disseminating information is potent, particularly within the context of a systematic wartime propaganda. The “blank canvas” quality of poster that enables graphic and visually arresting designs, manipulation of representations, and inclusion of symbolism and concise texts, made it an effective tool of propaganda.
Accordingly, a poster was often used for: advertising – targeted form of promotion for not only product but also ideology; stereotyping – arousing prejudices by portraying enemies with stereotyped racial features; dehumanising – depriving enemies of human qualities to generate a sense of fear and hatred; repetition – reiterating a particular symbol or slogan; and flag-waving – justifying violence a patriotic act based on the undue connection to nationalism.
The advertisement poster of international rail routes highlights Empire of Japan’s industrial achievement and its vision to become the “builder of new order” with the construction and expansion of transport services connecting Japan, Korea, Manchuria, China, and Europe. Along with the international rail routes advertisement, posters on coal mining of Mengchiang (Mongol Border Land), Taiwanese pure cane sugar, bank (of Japan, China, and Manchou), textile, hotel (“Hotel New Osaka”), and insurance, covered in The Almanac andadvertised in English language, are interesting to note.
The advertisement showcases one side of the coin without a glimpse of the other. Notably, the Burma-Thailand Railway is known as the “Death Railway” today due to the high death toll of a captive labour force of approximately 60,000 Allied prisoners of war forcibly engaged in the construction of rail line.
Stereotyping and De-humanising Cartoon
In a book War Without Mercy by John Dower (1986), “the white men were described as arrogant colonials who dwelled in splendid houses on mountainsides and hilltops, from which they looked down on the tiny, thatched huts of the natives. they took it as their birthright to be allotted a score or so natives as personal slaves”.
The cartoon by the Chicago Tribune’s Carey Orr was published three days after the Attack on Pearl Harbor as an unequivocal reminder of how the surprise attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet became an indelible symbol of Japan’s inherent treachery, and inspired an immediate commitment to a ‘war without mercy’.
The above representations of the Allied forces are visually contrasting, with Japanese cartoon presenting the stereotypical obese and grumpy White-man, emphasising John Bull’s corpulence in comparison to the starving Indians positioned on the lower-left corner, while American cartoon is depicting a heroic, strong, and determined navy personnel.
The Japanese Empire did not only manipulate visual imagery to rouse collective antipathy toward the enemy, but also published cartoons to caution the public against the Western influence, particularly the individualistic and materialistic orientations.
This May 1942 cartoon from the government-sponsored magazine Manga is titled “Purging One’s Head of Anglo-Americanism,” with a caption, “Get rid of that dandruff encrusting your head!”. The scurf being combed out is identified as extravagance, selfishness, hedonism, liberalism, materialism, money worship, individualism, and Anglo-American ideas.
The fundamental quality of photography being a reflection of a moment in time, a photograph is commonly believed to bear a witness to history and preserve moments as the pictorial evidence of reality, objective and unbiased. The common misconception that disregards the intention and regulation of photographer allowed such quality of photography to be exploited in a systematic manner. The photography was a convincing method of propaganda that exaggerated or fabricated reality to manipulate a viewer’s thoughts and emotions for an advantage. It was often used for the following strategies: bandwagon – the join-the-crowd technique that convinces a viewer to join the mass movement; inevitable-victory – that appeals the viewer her victory is assured; and euphoria – that promotes or fabricates an idealised vision of happiness and stability.
The below photographs are drawn from Japan Photo Almanac 2603 published by Domēi Tsushin-sha in 1943. Domēi Tushin was a news agency monopoly and a production of the Japanese government’s propaganda aimed to build foreign publicity; a sole voice through which government-approved lines and broadcasted news transmitted abroad in different languages. The Almanac was a celebratory annual record captioned in English and Japanese languages that traces victory throughout the war progression and offered skewed insights into colonisation and wartime assimilation, with coverage of amicable photographs.
The Almanac appeals to the reader that Japan has achieved its claimed objective to emancipate oppressed peoples of Asia under Western colonisation, and manifests political, cultural and linguistic assimilation is voluntary, and for the betterment of Asia as a collective.
Please note that the titles enlisted for the photographs are strictly drawn from the publication.
About the curator: Dohui (Abigail) Kim is a Master of Art Curating student at the University of Sydney, interning at Rare Books & Special Collections. Dohui graduated from the Australian National University with a Bachelor of Art History and Curatorship in 2019 with double minor in Anthropology and Japanese Language.
About two years ago, the Library’s Peer Learning Advisor (PLA) team were looking for a new way to reach out to students and help enhance their student life. As current postgraduate students, they felt they had a wealth of knowledge and experience to share, which could be a useful guide for all students looking to understand and make the most of university life.
Their answer: PeerPod – a bi-monthly podcast series in which the PLAs discuss topics and issues related to student life and share their own stories, experiences and advice.
Since its creation, PeerPod has covered all kinds of subjects, from how to start semester and make new friends, to bouncing back after failing an exam. We’ve heard stories from PLAs and advice from experts, but this year we’d like to add something more. We want students of all levels to join us in the recording studio and share their voices, opinions and experiences!
Do you have a unique insight into student life? Some handy advice that you want to share? Maybe a suggestion for a topic you’d like us to cover?
The Library is pleased to announce access to the ProQuest Text and Data Mining Studio. The Studio enables researchers to mine and analyse ProQuest content, including current and historic national and international newspapers such as:
The Sydney Morning Herald
The Australian Financial Review
The New York Times
The Studio has two interfaces: the Studio Workbench (access available on request) and Studio Visualizations (create an account online).
Through the Studio Workbench you can use R or Python to analyse up to two million documents, including newspapers, magazines, journals and books, via Jupyter Notebooks within the workbench. The Studio workbench is best suited to researchers wanting to conduct large scale analysis of texts. View current content available in ProQuest Studio Workbench and request access to the Studio Workbench by contacting email@example.com with the project details and email addresses of those who require access.
Using Studio Visualizations, you can analyse up to 10,000 documents from a subset of ProQuest’s content using pre-built text mining tools. Studio Visualizations is an evolving interface which currently provides access to a Geographic Analysis model. Further text analysis methods, including topic modelling, as well as access to more content, will be released throughout the year.
Using Studio Visualizations doesn’t require coding experience and is best suited to researchers and students new to text mining, or teaching staff wanting to introduce text mining to their students.
To give you a fresh start in the new year, we’ll be waiving all overdue fines on Monday 11 January 2021.
To continue our support throughout the year, we’ll also be suspending overdue fines during 2021. From Monday 18 January 2021, we will no longer charge you for returning an overdue item. However, fines may still be charged on items borrowed from other institutions via Resource Sharing if they become overdue.
Help everyone get the most out of the Library by practising good library etiquette and always being considerate of others. When you borrow an item, please follow our updated borrowing terms and conditions so that everyone has access to our collections.