Dr. Pamela Moore, associate dean for global engagement for the Office of International Programs and Studies (OIPS) at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), recently traveled to Japan, where she gave a series of lectures on the culture of the American South. She spoke at an event hosted by the Cultural Affairs Office of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Japan and also delivered presentations at Akita Prefectural University (APU) in the city of Akita, Japan.
At APU, Dr. Moore spoke to high school students from selected schools in the area about African-American history and culture. The presentation included a historical overview of the Civil War and civil rights movement and featured media including blues songs and popular hymns and folksongs from the civil rights movement.
“Although some audience members had lived in or traveled extensively in the U.S., for most people, the South remains an unknown dimension of American culture,” she said. “I explained the shifting perceptions of the ‘Deep South,’ our food and the great cultural diversity of the region, which in a way, is a largely unknown aspect of our history.”
Dr. Moore’s second lecture at APU focused on current agricultural trends in the U.S. and was primarily attended by university administrators, faculty and staff. The discussion explored the role of the land-grant institution in the American higher education and agricultural sectors.
In Tokyo, she took part in a two-day cultural program before speaking at an event at Shirayuri Women’s University, which was organized by the U.S. Embassy. There, she addressed a packed audience that included university faculty, staff and students, embassy personnel, and area high school students, scholars and writers who all had a common interest in learning about U.S. Southern culture.
Dr. Moore said attendees at all the events were kind and friendly and seemed genuinely interested in learning more about the identity of American “Southerners.”
“Never in my wildest dreams did I envision being invited by an American Embassy to be a featured speaker on the American Deep South,” she said. “And no one was more surprised than me at the degree to which I was suited for the task. Growing up in the Mississippi Delta, being influenced by a generation of civil rights activities, working in grassroots communities across the mid-south Delta region – life truly teaches and imparts knowledge in ways that extend beyond the classroom.”
While she was in Tokyo, Dr. Moore took part in an interview with American View, the official magazine of the U.S. embassy in Tokyo, during which she touted the reasons why Japanese students should consider pursuing higher education at a university in the South.
“For those students who have interests in public policy, governance or any kind of global career that involves interaction with the U.S., I think the South is a really important region to understand,” she said. “If you understand the South, you can understand Washington, D.C. If you lack an understanding of certain regions in the U.S., it’s almost impossible to understand what’s really driving what may be happening at the national level.”