The 37th Masayoshi Ohira Memorial Prizes

“Women Living with Their Costumes: The Material Culture and Mother-daughter Relationships of the Miao”(Kyoto University Press, 2020)

Wakana Sato(Associate Professor,Niigata University of International and Information Studies)

 I am deeply honored to accept the Masayoshi Ohira Memorial Prize today. I would like to sincerely thank the distinguished members of the committee and everyone involved with the Foundation. My heartfelt gratitude also goes to everyone at the Kyoto University Press, as well as all of the scholars and staff who have supported me so far. With China’s rapid economic expansion, the lives of its ethnic minorities, such as the Miao people, have been transformed since the 1990s. Young people began going to work in the cities to earn money for their families, and the differences in life courses between generations now become more pronounced every year. How are Miao women crafting and handling their ethnic costumes in the midst of all these social changes? This simple question prompted my research. In my book, I talk about the communication that takes place through the Miao ethnic costume?not only when it is worn, but also during its production, possession, storage, and transfer from one person to another. Through my research, I learned that while Miao women are still hand-making their ethnic costumes to this day, they have greatly changed its production process and timeline, and that the Miao people’s marriage customs, which had begun steadily declining in the 1990s, have been preserved within the process of transferring ownership of ethnic costumes. In my conclusion, I stated that the various exchanges and conversations surrounding ethnic costumes have greatly supported the ties between mothers and daughters who live apart, one in the country and one in the city. To vividly convey a deeper understanding of ethnic costumes made by Miao women, as well as the varied daily practices of the people who live in and with that clothing, I included many color photographs in my book. I also made sure the design of the chapter title pages gives readers a chance to see intricate details of the costumes. I hope that this book will inspire interest in rural China, in the Miao people, and in those who live in and with their ethnic costumes. This award encourages me to continue applying myself to my research.

Wakana Sato is an Associate Professor at Niigata University of International and Information Studies. She obtained B.A. in Agriculture from Tohoku University (2007) and Ph.D. in Area Studies from Kyoto University (2016). Her major thesis is “Sympathetic Relationships between Miao Mothers and Daughters as Mediated by Ethnic Costumes: Case Studies from Guizhou Province, China”, Deja Lu (2017).


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