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Beyond international expositions and musical operettas such as The Mikado (1885) or The Geisha (1896), the other type of Japan-themed public event in which Victorian people experienced a transcultural encounter with Japan was the charity bazaar. Drawing upon newspaper articles and archive material, this seminar will investigate how Japan was represented in philanthropic events in the North East of England through the presence and consumption of Japanese goods. With this regard, the stereotyped image of Japan disseminated by British decorators was instrumental in attracting a wide audience, transforming the “Orientalist” theme of Japanese Village into an appropriate setting to even promote very local endeavours such as charity campaigns which were completely unrelated to Japan, its culture, and its people. In addition, the common practice of wearing Japanese costumes by local volunteers also reveals that charity bazaars incorporated an ambivalent transcultural nature. In other words, this seminar will explore the way in which fundraising practices and voluntary activities played crucial roles as mediators between local communities and transnational trends such as the “Western” fascination with Japan.

All welcome- this session is free to attend, but booking in advance is required.