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Asia Transforming Tackles the Tragic History of “Comfort Women,” Sept. 18

Before and during World War II, tens of thousands of Asian and European women were abducted and used in the Japanese Army’s system of wartime sexual slavery. The tragic history of these “comfort women” is an important point of discussion in the Hofstra University conference, Asia Transforming: Old Values and New Presences, September 18-20.

On the first day of the conference, Thursday, September 18, there will be two panels and a film screening dedicated to this difficult chapter in Asian history. These specific conference events are free and open to the public. (Registration fees apply to attend other parts of the conference.)

“Remembering War Atrocities and Sex Trafficking in East Asia” from 4-5:45 p.m. is part of the Association for Asian Studies’ outreach program, “Breaking the Silence on Wartime Sexual Violence in the Asia-Pacific War.” This panel will be moderated by Marilyn Young, professor of history, New York University. Also featured: Mark Selden, senior research associate in the East Asia Program at Cornell University; Yuki Terazawa, conference co-director and associate professor of history at Hofstra University; Jeong-Min Kim, graduate student in the East Asian Studies Program at New York University; and Cary Karacas, assistant professor of political science and global affairs at the College of Staten Island, CUNY. This panel will take place at the Lowenfeld Conference and Exhibition Hall, 10th floor, Axinn Library, South Campus.

The discussion will continue at 7 p.m. with a special address and film. “Breaking the Silence” will be presented by Pyong Gap Min, distinguished professor of sociology, Queens College and the Graduate Center, CUNY, and Shu Hua Kang, executive director, Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation. Their talk will be followed at 8:45 p.m. with the film  Song of the Reed (Taiwan, 2013; 73 minutes), highlighting the life stories of five survivors of military sexual slavery during the Asia-Pacific War, focusing on their efforts to overcome PTSD, and reveals the women as inspirations of human dignity.  The screening is co-sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of China (Taiwan) and Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation. Both the address and the screening will be presented at the Guthart Cultural Center Theater, Axinn Library, First Floor, South Campus.

The conference Asia Transforming: Old Values and New Presences, addresses how ongoing economic, social and political transformations have challenged present-day perceptions of Asian cultural identities. This is a joint annual meeting of the New York Conference on Asian Studies and the Mid-Atlantic Region Association for Asian Studies – the first such combined meeting of the two organizations.

For a full listing of conference participants, panel discussions and other conference-related events, visit hofstra.edu/asiatransforming. For registration fees call the Hofstra Cultural Center at 516-463-5669 or register online. All conference events – with the exception of meals (banquets and luncheons) – are free to members of the Hofstra community upon presentation of a current HofstraCard.

Photo: Survivor Yong-sim Pak pointing at a photo of her taken by the US Army in 1944.

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