A talk by Professor Sayuri Guthrie Shimizu (Rice University) & screening of Sleeping Tigers
“Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball.” This oft-quoted observation about baseball’s special place in American culture and society by Jacque Barzun applies to other regions of the world where baseball took hold in the 19th century and remained popular ever since, such as Japan. This presentation illuminates baseball’s remarkable odyssey across the Pacific to become one of the most beloved ‘imported’ traditions in Japan and areas where it left its cultural footprints.
Who brought baseball to Japan and why, and how, did the sport endear itself to the local people, both as athletic practice and spectator sport? What does the story of baseball diffusion across the Pacific tell us about North America’s place in the world at the time? What is Canada’s place in the “Transpacific Field of Dreams”? How has the sport, as a cultural import, evolved in a new environment? These are some of the questions that will be explored in this braided story about baseball, national identities, and cultural diffusion.
This event will include a screening of the National Film Board documentary on the Vancouver Asahi, Sleeping Tigers (50 minutes).
Prof. Guthrie Shimizu will also speak at Renison University College in Waterloo on Tuesday, December 2, 1:30 pm.
About the Speaker:
Sayuri Guthrie Shimizu is a historian of the United States’ relations with the wider world, with a particular emphasis on US-East Asian relations since the mid-19th century. Her research interests, cutting across historiographical and national boundaries, include the history of U.S.-Japanese relations, comparative colonialism, the transpacific world, sports in international relations, and global governance. She is the author of Transpacific Field of Dreams: How Baseball Linked the United States and Japan in Peace and War (University of North Carolina Press, 2012). Her current book project examines the rise and transformation of international ocean resource management regimes in the North Pacific in the first half of the 20th century. Professor Shimizu received her PhD in American History from Cornell University in 1992.
About the Film:
Sleeping Tigers tells the story of the unbeatable Asahi baseball team in pre-World War II Vancouver. The team won the Pacific Northwest Championship for five straight years. This remarkable story is told with a combination of archival footage, interviews and dramatic re-enactments.