Wednesday, December 6, 2017

War and Memory in Japan


Something Dreadful Happened in the Past: 
Generational Memory of War and Peace in Japan

Akiko Hashimoto (Visiting Professor of Sociology and Asian Studies at Portland State University, and Faculty Fellow of Yale University’s Center for Cultural Sociology) speaks to Temple University's Japan Campus,
Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies (ICAS) on November 9, 2017.

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She is author and editor of volumes on cultural sociology and comparative sociology, focused on social constructions of reality in varied cultural settings. Her special interests are cultural trauma, war memory, national identity, culture and power, popular culture and media, family and aging.

Japanese children are raised in an environment encoded with generational memory that encourages them to develop negative moral sentiments about the Asia-Pacific War. The “encouragement” comes in subtle and unsubtle ways, as young children develop gut instincts that “something dreadful happened in the past,” even if they don’t fully understand what or why. A growing number of cultural institutions and communities play a pivotal role in producing this generational memory as the wartime generation passes on. Drawing on the emotions of cultural trauma to forge a pacifist moral consciousness is a common technique of transmitting memory at such sites. Hashimoto’s talk will explore the broader cultural premise of the pacifist nation underlying the plural narratives of dark history that continue to cast a shadow on postwar Japan. The talk is based on Hashimoto’s The Long Defeat: Cultural Trauma, Memory and Identity in Japan which has recently been published in a Japanese translation.

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