I am deeply sorry to have to relay the news that my dear friend and colleague Dr. Denis Gainty died suddenly and unexpectedly two weeks ago. A scholar of modern Japanese history, Denis wrote a fascinating book, Martial Arts and the Body Politic in Meiji Japan (Routledge, 2013), that traces the history of the Japanese body as it was imagined by nationalists after the Meiji Restoration. At the time of his death he was deep into the research and writing of a volume about the inclusion of American bluegrass in the repertoire of Japanese musicians after the Second World War. His history of transpacific crosscultural exchanges in the wake of war and in the context of occupation promised to expand our understanding of how the soundscapes of the postwar period depended--perhaps more than anything else --on the historical processes of contact and exchange that transformed the American South as well as the nation of Japan.
The photo of Denis you see opposite was taken last fall in the north Georgia mountains, near the beginning of the Appalachian Trail that connects the American South with Denis's beloved Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. The Appalachian Trail joins north and south; Denis's interests connected east and west, rendering those labels obsolete. If anyone could see the ways that occupied Japan and north Georgia were a part of the same story, it was Denis. In his life, Denis was a member of many communities--from the Oakhurst Dog Park to the Southeast World History Association--but he was perhaps most proud of his citizenship in the hybrid cultural territory of we might call "Japan/Appalachia," a utopian space whose residents bridge multiple continents, generations, and cultural traditions. History is in part a demonstration of the skill of translation, and Denis was one of the most sensitive translators of human experience I knew.
Denis Gainty, 31 August 1970-24 March 2017, is survived by his mother, Mary Kate; his brother Chris, and sister Caitjan; Jen Patico; and his children Eliza and Clem, whom he adored.
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|Title Annotation:||Denis Gainty|
|Publication:||World History Bulletin|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2017|
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