Asai Yuichi

Yuichi Asai is a Senior Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Japan. He is the author of an ethnographic monograph entitled “Semiotics of Ritual: Linguistic Anthropological Study of Myths / Poetic Texts in Melanesia, Fiji,” published in Japanese in 2017. Since 2009, he has been engaging in field research in the Fiji Islands. His PhD thesis focused on a chief installation ritual on a dispute over the long-standing failure to install a paramount chief in Viti Levu Island. Examining various kinds of texts in the Fijian language, such as colonial-time documents and ritual speeches, he revealed the socio-semiotic transformation of Fiji from the textual archive state to the “ritual regime” in the postcolonial era. During his stay at Harvard-Yenching Institute, he will further research Fijian traditional song making practice, known as meke. The lyrics of meke chants are assumed to come to the song composers (Daunivucu) taught by supernatural mentors or divine beings while composers are in sleep and trance. Song composers take no personal credit for the compositions, and the lyrics are also understood as words of future predictions; thus, the composer is often considered a “seer.”

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