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.


Galvin, Kristen and Christina M. Spiker. “The Cost of Precarity: Contingent Academic Labor in the Gig Economy” in Art Journal Open (Forthcoming 2019).

Galvin, Kristen and Christina M. Spiker. “Generation Wipeout,” part of “Beyond Survival: Public Support of the Arts and Humanities” in Art Journal Open (October 25, 2018).

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

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

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


Nostalgic Femininity / From Flowers to Warriors: Japanese Woodblock Prints from the Archives & Special Collections. Edited by Christina M. Spiker. Saint Paul, MN: Catherine G. Murphy Gallery, 2019. Exhibition catalogue.

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

Blog Posts


    Japanese Woodblock Prints @ St. Kate’s (w/ undergraduate students MaryJane Eischen ’20 and Nicole Wallin ’19) (2019 – Present)

    This project is a digital exhibition supplementing two physical exhibitions, Nostalgic Femininity (Catherine G. Murphy Gallery) and From Flowers to Warriors (St. Catherine University Library). The idea was the create a central hub between both shows and also document the prints for archival reasons. Like the Mapping Isabella Bird website, this is built using Scalar 2, a free, open source publishing platform developed by the University of Southern California. I wanted to teach my student, who is a minor in digital humanities, how to use Scalar and apply it to the practice of art history and curation.

    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

    “Comparative Itineraries: A Digital Humanities Approach to Understanding Authenticity in the Exploration of Hokkaido,” paper delivered at the Travel is Life, Travel is Home: Representing Travel and Landscape in Japan Conference, Iowa State University (April 4-6, 2019).“The White Native Body in Asia: Woodcut Engraving and the Creation of Ainu Stereotypes,” paper delivered on the “Coloring Print: Reproducing Race Through Material, Process, and Language” panel sponsored by Association of Print Scholars at the annual College Art Association (CAA) Conference (February 13-16, 2019).

    Western Women and the Poetry of Japanese Crepe-Paper Books” (西洋女性とちりめん本の詩について), invited paper delivered at the Japanese Crepe Paper Books and Girl’s Culture Exhibition and Symposium (「ちりめん本と女性の文化」展覧会・シンポジウム), Kanagawa University (神奈川大学), Yokohama, Japan (November 24, 2018).

    The Shôjo and the Indigenous Body: Representations of Ainu Woman in Japan’s Samurai Spirits, 1993-2008,” paper delivered on the “The Shôjo Body as Indigenous, Ubiquitous, Balletic and Beautiful” panel at the 67th Annual Midwest Conference for Asian Affairs (MCAA), Metropolitan State University (October 19-20, 2018).

    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

    Christina Spiker

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