The winner of the 2023 Patrick Scott Award for Best Graduate Paper has been announced:
Alexandra Kadis, University of Maryland, College Park
“Japanese Acrobats as Athletes on the Victorian Stage: The Victorian Reception of Japanese Acrobatic Troupes, 1867–1870”
Abstract: As the first Japanese people with whom many domestic Britons had close encounters, Japanese acrobatic troupes shaped Victorian perceptions of Japan. Through a survey of Victorian periodicals, this paper unpacks how the Victorian reception of Japanese acrobatic troupes in the late 1860s reflected British beliefs about themselves in relation to the Japanese people. This paper positions the Japanese acrobats as athletes—rather than just performers—in the context of the rise of sports and athletic competitions in England, arguing that displays of Japanese athleticism on stage complicated Victorians’ sense of superiority over non-Western peoples.
Alexandra Kadis is a History MA and MLIS student at the University of Maryland, College Park, where she works as an assistant editor for the Slavery, Law, and Power (SLP) project and serves as the graduate student member on the University Library Council. Her research interests include race, gender, and identity in Victorian England and the British Empire in the nineteenth century.