Dr. Franklin Odo will discuss his book “Voices from the Canefields: Folksongs from Japanese Immigrant Workers in Hawaii” on Sunday, Oct. 13, at 2 p.m. at the Tateuchi Democracy Forum of the Japanese American National Museum, 100 N. Central ave. (at First Street) in Little Tokyo.

Franklin Odo
Franklin Odo

Japanese immigrant laborers comprised the majority of Hawaiian sugar plantation workers after their large-scale importation as contract workers in 1885. They composed unique folk songs called holehole bushi, which merged melodies with lyrics about work, life, and the global connection that they clearly perceived after arriving.

While many are songs of lamentation, others reflect a rapid adaptation to a new society in which other ethnic groups were arranged in untidy hierarchical order — the origins of a unique multicultural social order dominated by an oligarchy of white planters.

“In Voices from the Canefields,” Odo situates over 200 translated songs in their unexplored historical context.

Odo is director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program. He is also the author of “No Sword to Bury: Japanese Americans in Hawaii During World War II” and “A Pictorial History of the Japanese in Hawaii: 1885-1924.”

For more information, call (213) 625-0414 or visit www.janm.org.

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