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International Symposium of the Department of Asian and African Studies, Faculty of Arts, Ljubljana University:



The symposium is dedicated to all the victims of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Tohoku region of Japan on March 11th 2011


WEDNESDAY 23rd March


14. – 14.40 Opening Ceremony

Prof. Dr. Valentin Bucik, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Ljubljana University: Welcome address

Wang Xuan, Florence Gacoin Marks: Musical Performance

Prof. Dr. Jana S. Rošker, Head of the Department of Asian and African Studies: Welcome address

Jana S. Rošker: Chinese Lyrics in Slovene Translation – Jazz Recital

Prof. Dr. Andrej Bekeš, Chair of Japanese studies: Opening Speech

Nagisa Moritoki: Musical Performance



14.40 – 15.50 Panel 1: Cultural Practices in Traditional and Modern Japan


Tinka Delakorda:Shopping and Worshipping to Conquer the Identity Crisis

This paper will discuss the relationship between consumption and religion in contemporary Japanese society. When we look at Japanese religious history we can see that traditionally there was a close relation between Japanese religion and consumption activities. After the 12th century, for example, powerful temples and shrines advertised their miraculous virtues through the priests who would travel among the local communities gathering believers to their cause. These priests organized pilgrimages and provided the pilgrims with food and lodging near the said temples and shrines. However, there is little research on this relationship in today’s society. Here, I would like to focus on a particular temple in Tokyo that recently gained widespread popularity with elderly people. Careful attention will be given to the close connection between the temple and its surrounding commercial area. By exploring the market strategies, the use of media and the role of the local administration, I will argue that by successfully catering to the needs of the elderly in contemporary society, namely by selling goods aimed at the elderly and by organizing social events specifically for them, the temple manages to inspire the elderly with provisional collective emotions and a sense of belonging to a defined place which in turn provides the temple with a kind of community of believers.


Nataša Visočnik:The ways of Representing and Expressing of Identities within Minority Groups in Japan

Recent research has focused on the study of diversity and the expression of identity of minority groups, which advances through the assertion of their existence and value in a foreign country, through the analysis of the problems of their non-acknowledgment, and through giving them voice. The question of identity in general, and national and ethnic identity in particular requires not just the identification of the subject with a specific space as home, but also the examination of the process of production and reproduction of such an identity. In this presentation I am focusing on the problems the minority group of resident Koreans has with understanding and expressing their identity, and claiming their rights. Through personal memories I would like to find out how members of this minority group live in a national state. Personal memory can be embedded within, designed by, and derive its meaning from a memory field that offers interpretations of the past which are different from the memory of the national state. The main question of the presentation is how resident Koreans in Japan perceive themselves, and how they explain their identities. 

Kawashima Takamune:Burial Practices and Social Change in the Jōmon

Many archaeologists investigated the burial practices of the Jomon in order to clarify emerging social complexity, especially in 1950s. Recently, since social complexity of the Jomon became one of the important issues, the burial practice is recognized as the indicator of hereditary ranking system. As I noted elsewhere, there is no clear evidence that in the Jomon society a hereditary ranking system existed. However, instead of searching for a hereditary ranking system in the Jomon, the burial practices could be analyzed from another point of view. The temporal and regional distribution of the Jomon burial practice has been clarified. In the Kanto district, communal graves appeared in the early Late Jomon. This type of burial is discovered only in this area. In the same period, some burial practices also appeared in other areas of Eastern Japan. Although this change from the Middle to the Late Jomon has been recognized, it was not investigated from the perspective of social complexity. In this paper, I will try to examine the change of burial practice from the Middle to the Late Jomon in terms of social complexity.



15. 50 – 16.00 Coffee break


16.00 – 17.10 Panel 2: Language Education: Problems and Solutions


Mateja Petrovčič:On "Five Stroke" Input Method: Advantages, Disadvantages and Other Problems

"Five Stroke" is an input method based on the stroke shape and stroke order of a character, and requires only 5 keys from 1 to 5 on a numerical keypad to input any character. As an input method for Chinese, it is already integrated in Mac OS X, and is available as part of different applications for Windows OS. Although stroke order in Chinese and Japanese is different to some extent, this input method can be applied to characters of both writing systems.

This research compares the answers of students of Japanology and Sinology, takes into consideration the grade of the respondent (and therefore his/her knowledge of characters), and discusses the impact of different fonts to the accuracy of the input.

Irena Srdanović:Comparison of Collocational Relations in the Japanese Language Learning Textbooks and Computer-Assisted Language Learning Systems

In this presentation we explore the presence of collocational relations in Japanese language learning textbooks on one side, and computer-assisted language learning systems and other language resources for the Japanese language on the other side. After providing a summary of different types of collocational relations in the Japanese language, we examine their coverage in various learners’ resources. We particularly concentrate on adjective-noun collocational relations at the beginner’s level, where we demonstrate which adjectives tend to appear with which nouns in the textbooks and compare the results against those obtained in large-scale Japanese data resources. Special attention is paid to what is referred to as unpredictable collocations, which have a bigger foreign language learning burden than predictable ones.


Nagisa Moritoki:More than Language Education, Less than Specialized Education

The Japanese studies programme at the Department of Asian and African studies, since being established in 1995, is emphasizing language education. This can give the impression that specialized education is being neglected. However, that is not the case. The way the curriculum is carried out becomes understandable, when we consider what language actually is and realize that language education is in fact something more than just acquiring grammar and language skills.

Language education in the traditional sense deals with phonetics, semantics and structure. On the other hand, in the field of specialized education, research focuses on literature, history, cultural studies, linguistics and so on. Can therefore a student who is merely a good speaker of Japanese be also a good researcher in a specialized academic field? The answer is no.

Even though a student can understand the sentence 'I took off my shoes when I entered the house,' he does not always understand the cultural background with its meanings and values in Japan as for example in the world of the “In Praise of Shadows (In'ei-raisan)" by Tanizaki Jun'ichiro, or properly analyze the meaning of 'impurity' anthropologically. He can understand the meaning of his object only after understanding the cultural and social aspects on which the sentence is grounded upon. This can be regarded as a cultural and social relationship between language and specialized fields. Thus it is more than linguistic knowledge – it is a sort of basic foundation for the academic research in the specialized field.


Hiroko Sawada: Double Subject Sentence in Japanese and Chinese

 Topic-prominent languages such as Japanese and Chinese have double-subject sentences like 「象は鼻が長い」, “大象 鼻子 長”. This sentence seems to have two subjects for one predicate in surface, but actually 「鼻が長い」, “鼻子 長” as a whole become one predicate, and connect the topic noun「象は」, “大象”.  It has been proposed that double-subject sentence is most natural with inalienable possession, and is less natural or ungrammatical with alienable possession. Comparing Japanese and Chinese, it was indicated that Japanese double-subject sentences are more natural with alienable possession than Chinese double-subject sentences. On the other hand, we can find data which show Japanese double-subject sentence is more unnatural (or ungrammatical) with some inalienable possession. I present this idea by showing Japanese and Chinese sentences from novels.



18.20 – 18.25 Jana S. Rošker: Chinese Lyrics in Slovene Translation – Jazz Recital



THURSDAY 24th March


14.00 – 14.10 Assist. Prof. Nataša Vampelj Suhadolnik, Deputy Head of the Department of Asian and African studies: Welcome address


14.10 – 15.20 Panel 3: Lanugages and the Concept of Nation


Arun Mishra:Linguistic Diversity in India

Great philosopher and thinker of modern day India Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, first Vice President of independent India, gave the slogan, “Unity in Diversity”. This can be seen in this way that India has 31 states, around 1618 languages, 6400 casts, 6 religions and 6 ethnic groups, more than 55 political registered parties, 29 major festivals and one country.

Diversity in India is not only reflects in languages but it reflects in culture and values also. It is not a modern day phenomena but this diversity can be seen since pre-historic periods in all the sphere of Indian life. Linguistic diversity in India, which is a very wide, controversial as well as political issue also, can be understood only in the entire socio-historical perspective as a unified concept.

Sanskrit, Prakrits, Pali, and Hindi – all are mostly link and common languages of communication in different historical period, emerged from some or other its own dialects and grew up with rest dialects and then spread all over the country. For this spreading all over the country during all ages, basically three factors were responsible – religious activities, trade and administrative setup. To understand diversity, specially cultural and linguistic, two examples are enough – India is a country which has approximately 33 million deities as mentioned in religious texts – simple calculation is one deity per family – every family has its own deity to worship. This is the level of diversity at socio-cultural front but without any confrontation. Everyone has freedom to worship anything as per his belief and faith. Second example is from great epic ‘Ramcharitmanas’ of Goswami Tulsidas – when Lord Ram successfully built the bridge across the ocean to reach Lanka and Rawan’s people informed Rawan about this, he was so shocked and surprised that he got up from his throne and said:

Bandhyo varnidhi, neernidhi, jalaadhi, sindu, vareesh!

Satya toyanidhi, makpati, udadhi, payodhi, nadeesh?

In these two lines ‘bandhyo’ means ‘built’ and ‘satya’ means truly, rest all words are synonym of ocean. It is well known that mostly each language has one word for one object. But it can be seen here that there are ten words for the same object. This shows that words from other languages had been borrowed and assimilated. Some times, even in Indian languages, even more than thirty words are for the same object, which are incorporated from almost all the dialects of same language. This scenario is typical and amazing to world but people of India are somehow comfortable with this and do not feel any problem is communication. In the present global context, Hindi is fast emerging as a global language. It has enormous strength to quickly assimilate terminology and structure of other languages. It can be seen this way that Hindi has around 40% borrowed words from other languages, around 20% from Sanskrit and rest 40% from its about seventeen major dialect.

Linguistic diversity and diversity in general in India, is summarized by Former Minister of State, Ministry of External Affairs, India, Shri Shashi Tharoor, as, “The idea of India is not based on language, not on geography, not on ethnicity and not on religion. The idea of India is on one land embracing many.”

Luka Culiberg:Dialectics of Language and Nation

I plan to present my current research interest dealing with the question of language ideologies within post-Meiji Japan-as-nation-state. As ideological perception is always historically produced interpretation of actual material conditions, I will try to put this dialectical connection between language and nation into a theoretical framework and attempt an explanation. I will thus present an outline of the role of language discourses and show how the concept of language has been rearticulated within the process of the construction of Japan as a nation-state.

In the course of this outline I will show how a plurality of spoken vernaculars in the Japanese archipelago was being conceived as a single language alongside with conceiving the people who lived there as one single nation. This attempt at the single language was a laborious and at times desperate project, since the gap between the ideology of a single language and a single nation on one side and a plurality of vernaculars and cultures on the other was just too big, so from the beginning of Meiji era until the post war period the ideological struggle concerning the concept of kokugo was in progress. From the ideas of Mori Arinori about introducing English as kokugo, through introduction of western linguistics by Ueda Kazutoshi, from Kokugo Chōsa Iinkai to Kokugo Shingikai, from the concepts of hōgen, hyōjungo to kyōtsūgo, kokka-go the inherent ideological contradictions concerning “language” bore fruit to fiercely opposing theories among people like Hoshina Kōichi, Tokieda Motoki, Yamada Yoshio, Hashimoto Shinkichi and many others. However, no matter how opposing these views were among each other they were all based on same ideological preconception of a single national identity. It is exactly the contradictory nature of ideology that continues to reproduce its material existence, whether it is the idea of nation or that of one single language.


Andrej Bekeš: Treatment of pre-WW II Japan National Language Policies in 'National Language Studies'

In this study I focus on the possible intellectual background regarding the scant attention paid to the establishment of the national language and pre-WWII language policies in Japan. This fact is surprising because the successful implementation of modern standard language was one of the key factors in the process of the building of Japan as a modern nation-state.

The central hypothesis of this research is that this conspicuous absence is based on the projection of the modern nation-state on the past, resulting in the perception of Japanese polity as a basically homogeneous and unchanged continuum in time and space.

An analysis of several texts by prominent Japanese scholars of National language has revealed important differences in perception. One group, mainly those preoccupied with the didactics of national language, tends to view the past in the light of “homogenised” present. On the other hand, those scholars researching Japanese in the wider context of general linguistics seem to treat national language related issues in a much more critical and theoretically informed way.



15.20 – 15.30 Coffee break



15.30 – 17.00 Panel 4: Histories and Ideologies


Jana S. Rošker: Structure and Creativeness: A Reinterpretation of the Neo-Confucian Binary Category li and qi

Neo-Confucian philosophy was founded upon the binary category of the concepts li 理 and qi 氣. Although in Western, and also in modern Chinese literature, these two concepts have mostly been translated in a dualistic sense, representing the ideal principle and matter respectively, fresh insight into the underlying structural paradigm of traditional Chinese philosophy offers new possibilities of interpretation. The presentation follows from recognizing that traditional translations of these two concepts are Eurocentric. The author substantiates the problematic role of these presumptive translations through critical analyses of the methodological approaches which led to the traditional understanding of this binary category. A new alternative richer understanding of the complementary relation, composed by the two antipoles of structure and creativeness, is proposed.


Tamara Ditrich:Gender Relations in the Rgvedic Pantheon: Mothers and Wives

This paper will examine various representations of goddesses in early Hindu literature, particularly in the Rgveda, the oldest sacred text of the Hindus, usually dated in the middle of the second millennium BCE. It will outline the most prominent themes of goddess worship in Vedic India and challenge the generally accepted assumption that goddesses occupy an insignificant position in the Vedic tradition. Special attention will be given to a unique feature of Vedic religion—the worship of deities in pairs of the same gender. Vedic goddesses are usually worshipped as single deities, but when a goddess is addressed together with another deity, the pair often comprises two females. In this respect the Vedic deities are clearly distinguished from the well known divine couples of male gods with their female consorts that have had the most prominent position in the Hindu pantheon since the post-Vedic period. Consequently, the paper will explore the question whether all Vedic goddesses are mothers or wives and whether they can be viewed as manifestations of one Great Goddess or of one underlying feminine principle. 

Mitja Saje: Challenges to China and East Asian region from global economy

From mid 90ties on Chinese development is increasingly determined by the global situation

Affected by Asian financial crisis in 1997

Complies with WTO conditions since 2001

Growing dependence on the conditions of world markets

Integration of China into global economy

The concept of neo-liberalism in global economy

China and India happened to be most successful players in this concept

The challenge of the World Financial Crisis

Adapting to the conditions created by global financial crisis in 2008

China in times of the World Financial Crisis and Chinese reactions

China and East Asian region in the aftermath of the World Financial Crisis

Challenges of the future to China and East Asian region


Saša Istenič: Building Confidence across the Taiwan Strait

Taiwan and mainland China provide us with a very unique example of how two entities that deeply mistrust each other can nurture a strong codependent relationship. Where does such confidence for developing relations with someone you do not trust come from? The Taiwan Strait has long been viewed as one of the world’s most dangerous hot spots that could lead to a tragic war. The rivalry and arms race between Taipei and Beijing has most often been explained in realist terms of sovereignty, security and survival. However, in spite of several major crises that have occurred between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC) since 1949, and numerous dire war speculations, there has been no major armed conflict between the two sides ever since the crises in 1950s. Despite a serious lack of cross strait confidence building measures (CBMs), which are believed to play a crucial role in defusing the potential of serious misunderstanding, peace has been successfully maintained. Notwithstanding the PRC’s continued reliance on military instruments of national power to dissuade and coerce Taiwan into a political settlement on its terms, Beijing’s threats have not become reality. Since Taiwan people believe maintaining the status quo is preventing military assault by mainland China, they reasonably opt to maintain the status quo, as can be observed in regularly conducted opinion polls. Accordingly, this status quo of peace in the Taiwan Strait over the recent few decades has to a certain degree nurtured a foundation of confidence, which the people of Taiwan needed to get on with everyday lives. In this paper, I will try to outline some of the key factors that have preserved stability across Taiwan Strait. Since no single theory alone can adequately explain the complexities surrounding the cross strait issue, I attempt to explain these factors through the theoretical lenses of realism, liberalism, constructivism and ethnic identity.



17.00 – 17.10 Coffee break


17.10 – 18.20 Panel 5: Art and Literature


Nataša Vampelj Suhadolnik:A Reinterpretation of the Lotus in the Han Wei Jin Tombs

The lotus motif appears on the ceiling of the tombs toward the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty, becoming a rather common pattern on the ceiling of the Wei and Western Jin period tombs. Although its appearance concurs with heterogeneous Buddhist activities, it would be misleading to assert the lotus in its early phase of appearance to be a motif with a Buddhist connotation. Judging from archaeological materials and ancient literary references, taking into account its specific location and thereby the linkage of the architectural structure with the scene painted, it is undeniable the lotus is deeply rooted in the early Chinese tradition and has most probably developed from the sun with its rays shining around the obscure underground world.

The present paper will try to demonstrate that the lotus motif does not represent only an embellishment, but contains a precise meaning closely linked to the cosmic nature and its central position in the cosmos. It not only symbolizes the sunlight, but likewise embodies the brightest star in the North Pole Office – the residence of the greatest deity Taiyi, who in the pivot of the cosmos regulates the constant interlacement of the two cosmic forces manifested in the circulation of the five cosmic phases through which all substances in nature proceed. It also supervises the circulation of the four seasons and helps to transform a tomb into an artificially created cosmos. Thus the soul would be able to attain immortality in the ever changing but never ending cosmos.

This interpretation of the extant evidence could also clarify the simultaneous appearance of the lotus and Buddhism in China. It was precisely because the lotus motif had been deeply rooted in the early Chinese tradition that, after the spread of Buddhism in China, it was allotted more extensive expressions and usage in the funerary context, and that only later that this indigenous usage became merged with the Buddhist symbol of the lotus.


Taniguchi Kousuke: The Origin of Japanese Flavor in the Reception of Chinese Literature: The Case of "Shinsen Man'yōshū"

This paper will examine how classical Chinese words were adopted and developed by ancient Japanese scholars as a means of self-expression. These words, traditionally called "washū" or "Japanese habit", have often been seen as mistakes which deviate from the Chinese standard, but in the long Japanese history of borrowing Chinese words, these words were not necessarily adopted in their dominant sense. Focusing on the way Chinese words were borrowed by the Japanese with an emphasis on those particular word senses which most appealed to them, I will explore the value of "washū" expressions in Japanese Chinese literature, particularly in the poetry collection "Shinsen Man'yōshū".


Tina Ilgo: Motives of Madness, Indifference and Cannibalism as Symbols of Depraved Society in Lu Xun’s Short Stories

In the present paper, I argue that the short stories written by one of China's most prominent writers and the father of modern Chinese literature, Lu Xun, have a deep symbolical meaning that transcends the context of the 20th century China. In Diary of a Madman and The True Story of A Q the author exposes the main defects of human character, which cause the decline of humanity. The impossibility of destroying the ‘iron house’, or the incapacity of people changing their ‘cannibalistic’ nature, causes the loss of hope on the side of the so called ‘madmen’, and turns them into A Qs. With the repetition of motives like the ‘iron house’, wolfish eyes and apathetic masses, that are constantly present in Lu Xun’s short stories, the author calls our attention to the fact that history repeats itself and expresses his pessimism about the future. At the same time these motives as well as the stories are a reflection of the author’s state of mind and his everlasting journey between hope and despair, ‘madness’ and indifference, tradition and modernity.



18.20 – 18.25 Jana S. Rošker: Chinese Lyrics in Slovene Translation – Jazz Recital


19.00 Dinner