Book Party - Silver Screens and Golden Dreams: A Social History of Burmese Cinema

The world tends to see Myanmar (Burma) as an ancient, idyllic land of emerald-green rice paddies dotted with golden pagodas, yet sadly tarnished by a contemporary reality of grinding poverty, a decades-long civil war, and the most enduring military dictatorship in modern history. Burmese society is frequently stereotyped as isolated, hidebound to Buddhist cultural foundations, or embroiled in military rule and civil strife. Its thriving, cosmopolitan film industry not only questions such orientalist archetypes but also provides an incisive lens to explore social history through everyday popular practices. 

In a tour-de-force study of sixty years of cinematic entertainment, Silver Screens and Golden Dreams traces the veins of Burmese popular movies across three periods in history: the colonial era, the parliamentary democracy period, and the Ne Win Socialist years.

Author Associate Professor Jane Ferguson engages cinema as an interrogator of mainstream cultural values, providing political and cultural context to situate the films as artistic endeavors and capitalist products.

The ANU Myanmar Research Centre (MRC) invites you to a special 'Book Party', which will present some Burmese film clips during the reception at the Atrium. Associate Professor Jane Ferguson and Dr Yuri Takahashi from the ANU School of Culture, History & Language will discuss the content of the book, and the Director of MRCAssociate Professor Nick Cheesman will chair this event. 

Book Sale - A limited number of books will be available for sale for AUD $75 (card only). 

Light refreshments and Burmese film clips screening in the Atrium at 5.30pm
Book talks in HB1 at 6pm

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This event is part of the ANU New Year Water Festival hosted by the School of Culture, History and Language from 17-19 April. 

The ANU Japan Institute Seminar Series showcases cutting-edge research by leading and emerging scholars based primarily in Australia and Japan. It aims to promote networking among Japan Studies scholars in the two countries and will feature innovative research on the bilateral relationship.

The emperor, the army, aerial bombardment, and the decisive home-island battle: A reconsideration of Japan’s delayed surrender in World War II

This paper, which locates Emperor Hirohito as the driving force behind Japanese surrender in World War II, presents new historical evidence to support its threefold case that (i) the emperor feared aerial bombardment, (ii) the atomic attacks against Hiroshima and Nagasaki magnified that fear, and (iii) this fear was the driving force behind the emperor’s 'sacred decisions' to end the war and submit to foreign military occupation.

This paper also reconsiders the Japanese army’s volatile opposition to surrender. It examines army officers’ fanatical devotion to a decisive home-island battle against invading U.S. forces, and it argues that Japan’s army officers were animated at least as much by romantic dreams of Japan as a nation-in-arms, as they were by the hope of forcing the Americans to the negotiating table. It allows that Soviet entry into the war against Japan played a role in ending those militaristic dreams; it nonetheless finds that the atomic attacks – and the emperor’s reaction thereto – were decidedly more impactful in compelling the army to lay down its arms.

In making these assertions, this paper takes issue with a series of scholarly consensuses and it also wades into several scholarly controversies. These include: (i) the remarkably durable proposition (attributable to Gar Alperovitz and others) that Japan was defeated and on the verge of surrender long before August 1945; (ii) the insistence (attributable to Herbert Bix and others) that the emperor delayed surrender; (iii) the debate (joined by Asada Sadao, Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, and Hatano Sumio) over whether the atomic bombs or Soviet entry into the war caused Japanese surrender; and (iv) the debate (sparked initially by Suzuki Kantarō) over whether Army Minister Anami Korechika was a sincere proponent of the decisive home-island battle, or instead an artful proponent of haragei who professed loyalty to the decisive home-island battle while at the same time undermining the army’s hardline position.


Professor Peter Mauch teaches modern Japanese history at Western Sydney University (Australia). He has authored TOJO (Harvard University Press, under contract) and Sailor Diplomat: Nomura Kichisaburō and the Japanese-American War (Harvard University Asia Center, 2011). He has contributed essays to the Cambridge History of the Second World War (Cambridge University Press, 2015) and The Road to Pearl Harbor: Great Power War in Asia and the Pacific (Naval Institute Press, 2022), and he has published with such journals as Diplomatic History; Pacific Historical Review; Diplomacy and Statecraft; War in History; and the Journal of American-East Asian Relations. He was a consultant for the two-part NHK documentary entitled 'Shōwa Tennō ga kataru' ('Shōwa Emperor Speaks').

Image: A 1971 painting of the last imperial conference by Shirokawa Ichirō (1908-1944). The original is held in the collection of the Admiral Baron Suzuki Kantarō collection. 

Contact the ANU Japan Institiute Seminar Series Convener: Dr Andrew  Levidis at

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“We need stories. And not just stories about the stakes, which we know are high, but stories about the places we call home. Stories about our own small corners of the Earth as we know them. As we love them.” – Julian Aguon, To Hell With Drowning, 2021

The 2023 AAPS conference theme emphasises the need to resist and reframe fatalist and narrow representations of Oceania.

From the highlands to the islands, the conference aims to advance multiscopic understandings of Oceanic people’s relationships and relationality of places through storytelling rooted in a trans-disciplinary, critical and creative Pacific Studies.

Endorsing Indigenous human rights lawyer and writer Julian Aguon’s call for “stories about the places we call home”, we seek stories and conversations that illuminate fierce attachments to place and the immense beauty, magic and abundance of Oceania.

The Pacific Studies community recognises both ancestral and contemporary kinships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, South Sea Islanders, Māori and Pacific Islanders.

The 2023 conference will take place at the Australian National University, an institution that is located on the unceded lands of the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people and central to the Australian coloniality that continues to impinge upon the sovereignties of First Nations of this Country and beyond in Oceania. It is also an institution central to the decolonial possibilities envisaged by Pacific Studies.

This conference understands this place as a site for meaningful solidarities and approaches to Pacific Studies that are both place-based and multi-sited in scope.

Ticket information:

  • Early Bird tickets and prices for participation (for the full four days of the conference) are currently available until 11.55 pm on Friday 17 February 2023.
  • From Saturday 18 February 2023, Standard Registration tickets and prices for participation (for the full four days of the conference) will apply.
  • If you want to be eligible for members' prices, please be sure to join AAPS via our website.
  • Registration includes an evening reception on Tuesday evening and morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea from Wednesday-Friday.
  • Aside from this, don't forget to make sure you get a ticket to the conference dinner as well in your purchase!
  • In the checkout questions, you will be able to list your dietary requirements, access needs and if you are a postgraduate/ECR if you would like to participate in the Tarcisius Kabutaulaka's masterclass on the afternoon of Tuesday,11 April 2023.
  • If you would like to participate in only one day of the conference, you can purchase one of the 'Daily flat rate' ticket.

Please note that this conference is an in-person event. However, the Epeli Hau’ofa public lecture will be recorded and uploaded at a later date.

Postgraduate/ECR workshop:

The postgraduate/ECR workshop will take place on Tuesday afternoon, 11 April 2023. We encourage postgraduates and ECRs to join us in the afternoon from 12pm for the workshop with lunch provided. Registrations are limited to 30 places and are essential. 


Tues 11 April - The Welcome to Country and the Epeli Hau’ofa public lecture - late afternoon. This will be followed by an evening reception for all registered participants of the conference.

Wednesday 12 April - Friday 14 April 2023 will consist of a series of keynote plenaries, as well as, three parallel streams of sessions across multiple sites on The Australian National University campus including the HC Coombs Building, the Hedley Bull Building, the Menzies Library, the Coombs Extension and other locations.

Speakers, sessions and convenors

Announced speakers:

  • Maureen Penjueli - Pacific Network on Globalisation, Keynote panellist
  • Yuki Kihara - Artist, Keynote panellist
  • Ronny Kareni - United Liberation Movement for West Papua – Pacific Representative, Keynote panellist
  • Professor Alice Te Punga Somerville - University of British Columbia, Keynote panellist
  • Kim Kruger - Moondani Balluk Academic Centre at Victoria University, Keynote panellist
  • Professor Emeritus Terence Wesley-Smith - Center for Pacific Islands Studies at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, Keynote panellist
  • Joy Lehuanani Enomoto - Koa Futures/Hawai’i Peace and Justice, Keynote panellist
  • Aunty Sana Balai - Living Museum of Logan, Keynote panellist
  • Dr Melinda Mann - CQUniversity, Keynote panellist
  • Lisa Hilli - School of Culture, History and Language, ANU, Keynote panellist
  • Professor Katerina Teaiwa - School of Culture, History and Language, ANU, Keynote panellist

Sessions and convenors:

  • Pacific Studies Fight Club?: ethics, politics and possibilities of critique, Professor Alice Te Punga Somerville
  • But whose lands are you on? Positioning Pacific diasporas on Aboriginal lands, Dr Melinda Mann and Kim Kruger
  • Stories of Environment and Disability in Oceania, Dr Bonnie Etherington
  • Navigating the Archives, Kathryn Dan
  • West Papua: Our Pacific Struggle, Joey Tau
  • Articulating Em(OCEAN): Survivance on a Sea of Islands, a Youngsolwara Tale of Beautiful Chaos, Jason Wesley Ravai Titifanue
  • ‘Oceanic Diplomacy’: Indigenous Diplomatic Pathways in the Contemporary Pacific, Honorary Associate Professor Greg Fry and Salā Dr George Carter
  • Rethinking Australian Coloniality through Pacific Biography, Professor Katerina Teaiwa, Dr Nicholas Hoare and Talei Luscia Mangioni
  • Ongo, lau tohi, pese (listen, read, sing): create!, Associate Professor Mandy Treagus and Rita Seumanutafa
  • Constructing belonging: Situating Indo-Fijian gendered narratives in Oceania, Domenica Gisella Calabrò and Romitesh Kant
  • Vā Hine: Embodied Relationality, Dr Tia Reihana and Dr Nālani Wilson-Hokowhitu
  • Embodying Vā: An activation through research, artistic expression and movement, Jasmin ‘Ofamo’oni
  • Suiga: A decolonial choreographic exploration of Christianity within the Pacific, Chas Mamea
  • Justice for Creation: Indigenous perspectives and the role of the church, Talitha Fraser and Raisera McCulloch
  • Navigating unchartered waters: critical approaches to law and Pacific Peoples, Associate Professor Rebecca Monson
  • Reframing and transforming oceans governance in Oceania, Pip Louey
  • To hell with the status quo! Translating equitable principles into meaningful actions in Pacific Fisheries, Dr Bianca Haas
  • Just Restore: what do Oceania communities tell us about ways to do Justice in Australia, Sarouche Razi
  • Environment Law in Practice: Perspectives from working in the Pacific, Dr Bal Kama
  • The Flying Canoe, Marita Davies
  • Mapping Otherwise Realms, Dr Emma Powell, Dr Jess Pasisi and Melanie Puka Bean
  • Refusing Fatalism: Voices for climate justice and decolonial futures, Emerita Professor Margaret Jolly, Dr Siobhan McDonnell and Vehia Wheeler
  • Decolonial Feminisms in Oceania: Localised and Regional Perspectives, Dr Cammi Webb-Gannon, Dr Jenny Munro and Elvira Rumbaku

Session types

These will be one of three types of sessions – presenting, creating and relating.


Presenting sessions, or a session with prepared papers, may follow a more conventional format with a chair, a panel of presentations, and papers shared with the audience. We recommend keeping presentations brief (15 minutes maximum) and highly focused on stimulating discussion between panellists and the audience. We also encourage the possibility of multi-session seminars or ‘streams’, to promote deeper discussion of relevant themes. 


Relating sessions, or a session without papers can be based on Pacific modes of oral practice, including tok stori, talanoa and yarning circles. These include a dialogue or roundtable format or a workshop format in which presenters create interactive spaces between presenters and audiences. We encourage these sessions to intentionally engage trans-disciplinary Pacific studies, which incorporate participants who are community members, students, activists, practitioners and public officials, to move knowledge production beyond the academy. 


Creating sessions are experimental sessions, including formats such as workshops, question-driven sessions, performances (weaving, dancing, spoken word, creative writing, etc.), film screenings, community engaged actions (zine-making, postering, etc.), reading groups with discussion of pre-circulated materials, resource and skills sharing sessions, and beyond. 

Event Speakers


Various Distinguished Guests and Speakers

Various Distinguished Guests and Speakers

See the conference website for the program and other details. 

The ANU Japan Institute Seminar Series showcases cutting-edge research by leading and emerging scholars based primarily in Australia and Japan. It aims to promote networking among Japan Studies scholars in the two countries and will feature innovative research on the bilateral relationship.

Another face of empire: Japanese women’s experiences of repatriation from Manchuria and reintegration to Japan

In August 1945, there were approximately 6.6 million Japanese citizens were overseas. About half of them were civilians, and more than eighty per cent of them resided in the colonised or occupied areas of Imperial Japan. Of those, approximately 1,550,000 were in Manchuria, sustaining the expansion of the Japanese empire. When the Russian army attacked the Manchurian borders on 9 August and started invasion, those Japanese colonisers started their repatriation to Japan. This could rather be called ‘evacuation’, because many of them faced various forms of harsh violence including pillage, mass-killing, and mass-rape perpetrated by the Russian soldiers and local residents who had been previously dominated by Japanese. The turmoil at the end of the war in Manchuria claimed approximately 245,000 Japanese people’s lives. In the postwar Japan, those repatriates faced social discrimination, and most have remained silent about their past. Their memories of colonisation and repatriation have never become the ‘public memory’, and are now fading away.

While the above account displays a rough outline of Japanese citizens’ experiences in Manchuria, we need to note that men and women were positioned differently within the empire and thus experienced the end of the war differently. In the official and/or mainstream discourses of their repatriation, some aspects of women’s experiences are still not fully revealed. For example, while women’s sexual victimisation upon their way home has been well documented, less investigated are their daily lives as colonisers before August 1945 and the surreptitious abortions provided by the government on their arrival in Japan. The Japanese citizens’ repatriation in the aftermath of the war is an ongoing issue.

This paper presents how those Japanese women were represented and recorded in the relevant discourses including their memoirs, paying particular attention to the women’s multi-layered social and political positionalities. By doing so, this paper will locate this issue in contemporary Japan, and contribute to critically reconsider how the Japanese empire ended.


Dr Mayuko Itoh is Lecturer in Japanese Language and Studies at School of Culture, History and Language, the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University. She received her PhD in History at the University of Melbourne in 2014. Her research interests are on experiences of Japanese women who cross national boundaries at various points in history. She most recently authored a book chapter, “Backsliding to Authoritarianism in Japan? State and Civil Responses to Experiences of Japanese Women Repatriated from Manchuria” in Spires and Ogawa, eds, Authoritarianism and Civil Society in Asia (Routledge, 2022).

Image: Japanese settler women hoe soy in Manchuria (Manchukuo): Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

The seminar is followed by light refreshments. 

Contact the ANU Japan Institiute Seminar Series Convener: Dr Andrew  Levidis at

Sign up to the ANU Japan Institute mailing list.