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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien

Feminine Internationalism and the International Body Politic: Consumers as Diplomats in Japan, 1919-1960

16. Januar 2002 / 18.30

Michael A. Schneider, Knox College/Waseda University

Historians have devoted considerable attention to Japanese internationalism in the pre-war period. The link between these pre-war origins and post-war social and intellectual movements has often been a tenuous one. Most leading male intellectuals and political leaders of the cooperative framework of the 1920’s were dead by 1940. Those who survived were tainted by their wartime activities. The post-war political leaders who cooperated to make Japan a strong American ally were not pre-war (or even post-war) internationalists. For these reasons, many post-war peace movements trace their origins to the immediate post-war period. From the perspective of women internationalists, the continuity of Japanese internationalism looks quite differently. My presentation will discuss the lives of prominent pre-war women internationalists. It will examine their conceptions of consumerism and the role of women in shaping modern diplomacy. Topics will include home economics, food discourse, and health and body sciences. I will discuss the wartime experiences of these women and the fate of their internationalism within the Cold War security framework.

Michael A. Schneider is a Japan Society for Promotion of Science Research Fellow at the Center for International Education, Waseda University and is Associate Professor of History at Knox College, Illinois, USA. He is the author of a forthcoming book on Japanese colonial policy studies and assorted articles on colonialism and internationalism. He is currently researching a book tentatively entitled Everyday Internationalism: Consumerism and Diplomacy in Twentieth Century Japan.