Please consider joining our discussion of competing conceptions of ‘nation’ and ‘citizen’ in postwar Japan, which we will host at the Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association in Atlanta. Essays are available via the AHA website at www.historians.org, and via email through firstname.lastname@example.org.
Panelists will present a brief summary of their papers, but the bulk of the session will be a facilitated dialog between essayists and the audience in order to build on the case studies presented in the pre-circulated papers.
We heartily welcome all who are interested in bringing their expertise to the forum.
Constructing and Contesting the "Cultural Nation": Defining Citizenship in Postwar Japan
A session of American Historical Association
Friday, January 5, 2:30—4:30 P.M.
Westin, Atlanta Ballroom Salon H
The two decades following World War Two were an extraordinary period during which political elites, and grassroots activists, attempted to refashion the meaning of ‘citizenship’ by deploying carefully constructed notions of ‘nation’ and ‘culture’, old and new.
During Japan's much acclaimed era of high-speed economic growth, government bureaucracies, political parties, union leaders, and even corporate managers engaged in a diverse array of ‘culture movements’ intended in part to define, through carefully constructed cultural practices, what it meant to be a citizen in the new postwar democracy. Indeed, from local historic preservation societies to grassroots film societies, both knowledge and practices of ‘culture’ played significant roles in the construction, and re-construction, of the postwar Japanese citizen.
These essays bring together aesthetic, political, and sociological views of the work of postwar democratization by looking at the articulated spaces of alterity in the films produced by acclaimed cinematographer Imamura Shohei; the leftist film societies organized and sustained by Communist Party and labor union activists; American efforts to convey a unique Okinawan cultural and ethnic space within, and without, a newly democratized Japan; and the apparently unintended byproducts of government efforts to expand local historic preservation programs.
Through an examination of the formation, structures, and legacies of programs promoting cultural activity in postwar Japan, the panel’s four essayists explore the interactions between official programs and practitioners, highlighting the contexts intentionally and unintentionally created by the highly politicized cultural productions of the era, and tracing the responses of both government allies and opponents to official cultural policy.
The organizers of this experimental roundtable extend a special invitation to scholars from outside the field of Japanese history wishing to join us in a dialogue that explores the shifting boundaries of national identity and citizenship in the context of the emerging democracies of the early postwar period.
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