War and Defeat in Japanese History and Memory

History 280/285F

Fall 2011
Instructor: 
Location: 
2303 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
F 2-4P
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  • Contemporary Japanese national and international identities are often constructed with reference to the experience of War, Defeat and Occupation (1937-1952). Japanese postwar society struggled to rebuild and understand its war loss and the accompanying trauma, yet at the same time, forces within society sought to suppress memories of loss, devastation and shocking violence. Over fifty years have passed since these events, but questions remain over issues such as war responsibility, reparations for victims like the comfort women, subordination to the U.S. and lingering social prejudices towards Asians from the former colonial empire. In this course we will read recent monographs that address the relationship between history and memory and reveal conflicting interpretations of these events. Key themes include the roles of gender and race in war and occupation, literary and cultural representations of war and occupation, the emergence of a prevalent identification as victim vs. aggressor, and postwar activism in peace and reparations movements. Historiography and other aspects of the evolution of the discipline will be discussed throughout. Students will be required to submit a brief (1 - 2) page critique of works read each week, along with a historiographical essay at the end of the semester.

    Notes: 

    Nancy Kinue Stalker is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Asian Studies and History at the University of Texas at Austin. Her scholarship on twentieth century Japanese material and popular culture investigates the intersection of practices and beliefs considered "traditional" with larger constructs of historical modernity, including nationalism, imperialism, capitalism and feminism. Her first book is entitled Prophet Motive: Deguchi Onisaburo, Oomoto and the Rise of New Religions in Imperial Japan (Hawaii, 2008) and her current project, Budding Fortunes, examines ikebana (flower arrangement) as cultural industry and cultural diplomacy in the twentieth century.