My name is Christina Spiker and I am a scholar of modern Japanese art and visual culture. I am currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Art History at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN. I received my Ph.D. in Visual Studies at the University of California, Irvine. My work is concerned with the histories and theories of globalization, modernity, travel, and exchange in modern and contemporary Japan. In my doctoral dissertation, I investigated the visual encounters between the indigenous Ainu in northern Japan and Euro-American/Japanese tourists, artists, and anthropologists at the turn-of-the-twentieth century. In my work, I pay close attention to the reproduction and circulation visual culture in media such as postcards, illustrations, and newspapers. I enjoy working with archival material in addition to experimenting in the digital humanities. Recently, I have become interested in expanding my research in issues of representation to include more contemporary media, such as animation and video games.


University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA
Ph.D., Visual Studies (September 2015)
Dissertation: Ainu Fever: Indigenous Representation in a Transnational Visual Economy, 1868-1933
Committee: Bert Winther-Tamaki [Advisor], Roberta Wue, Fatimah Tobing Rony

University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA
M.A., Visual Studies (December 2010)
Qualifying Paper: Creating an Origin, Preserving a Past: Arnold Genthe’s 1908 Ainu Photography

Ursinus College, Collegeville, PA
B.A., East Asian Studies with Honors, minor in Japanese (May 2007)

Other Publications

Book Chapters

“‘Civilized’ Men and ‘Superstitious’ Women: Visualizing the Hokkaido Ainu in Isabella Bird’s Unbeaten Tracks, 1880,” in Gender, Continuity, and Modernity in East Asian Art, 16th – 20th Centuries, edited by Lara Blanchard and Kristen Chiem, 287-315. Leiden: Brill, 2017.


Takashina Erika. Sea of Hybridization: In Dispute over Urashima” from The Sea Beyond: Hōsui, Seiki, Tenshin, and the West. Review of Japanese Culture and Society 26:1 (2014), 80-103.


What’s Your Sutori? Interactive Study Guides and Active Note-Taking,” in AHTR Weekly, Art History Teaching Resources (November 17, 2017).

Should You Pull?: Gachapon, Risk, and Reward in Mobile Gaming,” in First Person Scholar (September 6, 2017).

Navigating Space and Place: Digital Cartography in the Classroom” in AHTR Weekly, Art History Teaching Resources (March 31, 2017).

“At the Limits of Visibility: Noritaka Minami’s Past Won’t Pass (Catalog #52)” in Octopus Journal, 5 (2011): 1-4.


Mapping Isabella Bird: Geolocation & Unbeaten Tracks in Japan (1880) (2018 – Present)

This website is an open-source hub for students, educators, and researchers interested in the history of explorer Isabella Lucy Bird (1831-1904). It uses her example to explore the relationship between maps, explorers, visual culture, and tourism in Japan in the late nineteenth century. The website is built using Scalar 2, a free, open source publishing platform developed by the University of Southern California and now a project of the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture (ANVC) that is designed for long-form, born-digital scholarship online. I wanted to work with Scalar specifically for the ability to assemble a rich media archive and annotate these images in conjunction with my writing.

Tracing Lines (2017 – Present)

This website is a personal project of mine that documents my archival quest to learn about my ancestors. I have often been surprised at the overlap between genealogical research and the archival research that I do as a part of my scholarly work. I wanted the website to serve as a resource for my family in addition to serving as a thought experiment in linking academic scholarship on memory and photography with the real practice of creating a personal genealogy. I work on this site primarily during the summer and winter months when classes are not in session. The website is built using WordPress with embedded widgets from WikiTree.

Traveling Hokkaido (2015 – Present)

An attempt to visualize the travel routes of several popular explorers, artists, and anthropologists who ventured to the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido (or “Yezo”) in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This endeavor currently focuses on three popular texts, rather than purely scientific accounts, including Isabella Bird’s Unbeaten Tracks in Japan (1880), A. Henry Savage Landor’s Alone with the Hairy Ainu (1894), and Frederick Starr’s The Ainu at the St. Louis Exposition (1904). By studying the actual routes traversed both physically and imaginatively in these works, we can better understand and study the persistence of literary and visual motifs of Japan’s northernmost extents. Created with a storymap on ArcGIS.

Christina M. Spiker | Digital CV and Portfolio (2013 – Present)

My personal blog, digital CV, and visual portfolio. The website started in 2013 as a way to archive my graduate student and has since evolved into my professional profile. Managed through WordPress.

Upcoming Talks and Conferences


Vaguely Oriental: Engineering Asian Architecture in Fantasy MMORPGs,” paper to be delivered at the 48th Annual Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association (PCA/ACA) Conference, Indianapolis (March 28-31, 2018).

Reproducing Alterity: Photography, Illustration, and the Maintenance of Ainu Stereotypes in Meiji and Taisho Japan,” paper delivered on the “Optics: Race, Religion, and Technology in East Asian Visual Culture, 1868-1949” panel at the American Historical Association (AHA) Conference, Washington D.C. (January 4-7, 2018).

Chun-Li’s Qipao: Intersections of Gender, Race, and Fashion in Capcom’s Street Fighter II,” paper delivered at the 47th Annual Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association (PCA/ACA) Conference, San Diego (April 12-15, 2017).

The Texture of Crepe: Western Women and the Connoisseurship of Japanese Crepe Paper Books (chirimen-bon),” paper delivered at the second annual Art Historians of the Twin Cities Symposium, Minneapolis College of Art and Design (April 1, 2017).

Fighting Stereotypes: Reimagining Gender and Race in Street Fighter II (1991) and Samurai Shodown (1993),” paper delivered at the SGMS/Mechademia Conference on Asian Popular Culture, Minneapolis College of Art and Design (September 23-25, 2016).


College Art Association

Association for Asian Studies

Popular Culture Association

Japan Art History Forum

Art Historians of the Twin Cities

American Association of University Women

Christina Spiker

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