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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien
June 7, 2018

History-writing and the Public Sphere in Japan: 1945-1955

History-writing in Japan after World War II was more than just documenting the past; it was also about how to reconstruct the present and future. Japan was occupied by the United States and Allied powers and this occupation quickly turned to a new form of repression for many intellectuals, students, women, and others, even after it formally ended in 1952. In this climate, history-writing became part of social activism and the desire to change Japan in fundamental ways. Radical forms of history-writing became prominent and these sought to incorporate ordinary people in everyday life. They also sought engagement with the public sphere on a number of different levels and in ways that continued to have an impact on the writing of history after 1955.

This presentation will argue that history-writing during the first decade after World War II brought a kind of “plebian public sphere” into focus in ways that had not been seen in Japan during the prewar period.

Curtis Anderson, Waseda University