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February 23, 2009

Anthropologist Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney Named To Kluge Center's Chair of Modern Culture

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington has named Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney, an anthropology professor at the University of Wisconsin, to the John W. Kluge Center’s Chair of Modern Culture.

Ohnuki-Tierney’s term at the Kluge Center will run from February through July 2009. Her research will explore general theories about the role of symbolism and folk aesthetic in Japan’s history and culture and will show the importance of symbolism in political and military affairs.

Ohnuki-Tierney is the William F. Vilas Professor of Anthropology at the Madison campus of the University of Wisconsin. Her research has focused on symbols of Japanese identitiy—such as rice, cherry blossoms and the monkey—within broader socio-political contexts. In her recent study of cherry-blossom symbolism, Ohnuki-Tierney realized how the Japanese government, from the end of the 19th century through World War II, manipulated such symbols as the culturally treasured cherry blossom to influence an unaware citizenry to wage war and conduct imperial expansion.

Her books include "Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers" (2006); "Kamikaze, Cherry Blossoms, and Nationalisms: The Militarization of Aesthetics in Japanese History" (2002); "Rice as Self: Japanese Identities through Time" (1993); and "The Monkey as Mirror: Symbolic Transformations in Japanese History and Ritual" (1989).

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world’s best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another to distill wisdom from the Library’s rich resources and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For further information on the Kluge Center, visit

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PR 09-037
ISSN 0731-3527

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