Voices from the Canefields

Through the poetic lyrics of holehole bushi (Japanese folksongs), Franklin Odo (Founding Director, Smithsonian Institution’s Asian Pacific American Program) traces the experiences of Japanese immigrant plantation sugar workers caught in the global movements of capital, empire, and labor during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. From despair and defiance to love and lust, the sentiments conveyed in the lyrics of holehole bushi illustrate both the evolving local conditions and global context within which the workers, and particularly women workers, found themselves.

On January 22, 2014, we celebrated the publication of Voices from the Canefields: Folksongs from Japanese Immigrant Workers in Hawaiʻi with a selection of readings, song, and film.


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