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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien

Andrea Germer

Andrea Germer
Gender Studies, History
Since September 2001
(Senior Research Fellows, September 1, 2001 - June 30, 2007)

  • Gender Studies und Women’s History in Japan
  • International Feminist Theory
  • Social Movements

Women’s History in Japan

Since the 1980s publication of material and research in feminist historiography increased drastically. According to the bibliography Nihon joseishi kenkyū bunken mokuroku about three thousand publications dealing with women’s history appeared between 1982 and 1987. In Western languages there has – apart from two essays – been no systematic study giving a detailed overview on the evolution of women’s history in Japan. In my research I first of all intend to outline and present the academic and non-academic developments in this field.

Self-constitution through gender and culture

In feminist historiography we generally find the tendency to historically either reconstruct or deconstruct an assumed identity of  “woman”. In the case of women’s history in Japan (as in other non-Western countries), we can find the cultural component in the form of the historical reconstruction or deconstruction of the “Japanese woman” or of a specifically Japanese women’s history. I will examine the implicit and explicit scientific positions of the pioneers in women’s history, especially of the historian Takamure Itsue (1894-1964), as well as the theoretical discussions within the discipline since the 1970s under the perspective of cultural and gendered self-constitution and/or at times self-assertion.

Gender and Nation in War-time Japan

With regard to concepts of nation and nationalism, feminist historiography and theory are no longer limited to issues of women’s exclusion from conceptual and factual domains of power and decision-making. Rather, the focus has shifted to women’s ambivalent integration into social, cultural and political systems. In his widely received study on “imagined communities,” Anderson has referred to the category of gender only with regard to the fraternization of brothers. Meanwhile, feminist scholarship has shown that the discursive imagination and reproduction of a national order and an explicitly binary gender system developed simultaneously and were (are) crucial for their reciprocal representations.
Andrea Germer is currently conducting research within the DIJ project “Assertions of Cultural Uniqueness in Asia” on questions of gender and nation in war-time Japan. Two issues form the center of her analysis. Firstly, an investigation into the collaboration of several feminists of pre-war Japan, who followed the regime in its imperialist strategies and played an active ideological role therein. The motive for these maternalist as well as egalitarian feminists, some of whom were appealing to and some of whom were critical of the state in pre-war times, seems to have ultimately been the expectation of being granted full citizenship, i.e., their share in social and political power, within the nation-state. Preliminary results of this issue have been presented at the Third Symposium “Assertions of Cultural Uniqueness in Asia” (“Asiatische Selbstbehauptungsdiskurse”) in Erlangen, Germany, in December 2002 (cf. Newsletter 18).
Secondly, Germer is investigating the particular ways of women’s and men’s integration into the national project in the context of international competition and friction, focusing on the kinds of gendered models for identification offered to them. The magazine Nippon fujin (“The Japanese Woman,” 1942–1945), the official organ of war-time Japan’s streamlined women’s organization Dai Nippon Fujinkai, serves as primary material for the analysis of coherence and ambivalence of such models of identification offered on part of the nation-state. As of yet, in Japanese as well as in international scholarship, remarkably little attention has been given to this historical source material, abundant in text and imagery. At first sight of the magazine, it becomes apparent that within the certainly male-dominated process of nation building, women and gendered representations in general form an essential element in structuring the inside as well as in demarcating the outside in nationalist discourse. A detailed analysis of this source shall contribute to the clarification of discursive relationships with regard to gender, nation, and war.

DIJ Projects

Completed DIJ Projects

Images of the Nation: Gender, Race, and Culture in Women’s

Geschichtstheorien der Historischen Frauenforschung

Assertions of Cultural Uniqueness in Asia

Selected Publications


[With: Moerke, Andreas] Japanstudien 16. Grenzgänge – (De-)Konstruktion kollektiver Identitäten in Japan. Japanstudien. Munich: iudicium Verlag. 337 p., hardcover
[With: Ilse Lenz, Brigitte Hasenjürgen] Wechselnde Blicke. Frauenforschung in internationaler Perspektive. Opladen: Verlag Leske + Budrich.


Staat, Nation und Familie: Zum Verhältnis von Feminismus und Nationalstaat
In: Backhaus, Peter (Ed.) Japanstudien 19. Familienangelegenheiten (Family affairs). Japanstudien. München: iudicium Verlag. pp. 21-48.
Historische Frauen- und Geschlechterforschung: Von der Matriarchatsforschung zur transnationalen Geschlechtergeschichte (Women’s and Gender History: From Studies in Matriarchy to Transnational Gender History)
In: Krämer, Hans Martin; Schölz, Tino; Conrad, Sebastian (Ed.) Geschichtswissenschaft in Japan. Themen, Ansätze und Theorien (Historical Sciences in Japan. Topics, Approaches, and Theories). Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. pp.161-187.
Feminist Thought and Women’s History in Japan: The Case of Takamure Itsue
In: Baxter, James (Ed.) Historical Consciousnes, Historiography, and Modern Japanese Values (International Symposium in North America 2002). Kyoto: International Research Center for Japanese Studies. pp. 247-261.
Grenzgänge - Zur (De-)Konstruktion von sozialen Gruppen und kollektiven Identitäten in Japan. Eine Hinleitung
In: Germer, Andrea; Moerke, Andreas (Ed.) Japanstudien 16. Grenzgänge – (De-)Konstruktion kollektiver Identitäten in Japan. Japanstudien. Munich: iudicium Verlag. p.11-24.
Feminist History in Japan: National and International Perspectives
In: Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context, 9, August 2003. 20 p.
Geschlechtliche und kulturelle Dimensionen von Geschichtsschreibung: Takamure Itsues Geschichte der Frau (1954-1958)
In: Mrugalla, Andreas; Gössmann, Hilaria (Ed.) 11. Deutschsprachiger Japanologentag in Trier 1999 Bd.1, Geschichte, Geistesgeschichte/Religionen, Gesellschaft, Politik, Recht, Wirtschaft [Reihe: Ostasien-Pazifik/ Trierer Studien zu Politik, Wirtschaft, Gesellschaft, Kultur]. Münster, Hamburg, London: LIT-Verlag. S. 87-102.
‘Im Anfang war die Frau die Sonne’. Frauenbewegung und Historische Frauenforschung in Japan
In: diskus, 9.
Continuity and Change in Japanese Feminist Magazines: Fujin sensen (1930-31) and Onna erosu (1973-82)
In: Wöhr, Ulrike u.a., International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Ed.) Gender and Modernity: Rereading Japanese Women’s Magazines (International Symposium. Translation of Culture and Culture in Translation, Oct. 12-15, 1998, in Leuven, Belgium).. Kyōto: Nichibunken. S. 101-130.
Liebe, Natur und Politik: Kontroversen in der ersten japanischen Frauenbewegung
In: Derichs, Claudia; Osiander, Anja; O.A.G. (Ed.) Soziale Bewegungen in Japan. (= Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für Natur- und Völkerkunde Ostasiens e.V. Hamburg; Bd. 128).. Hamburg: S. 115-138.
Genesis der Liebe - die sozialphilosophischen und feministischen Anschauungen Takamure Itsues
In: Bochumer Jahrbuch zur Ostasienforschung, 20. Bochum: S. 120-186.
Die Neue Weiblichkeit: Takamure Itsues gynozentrischer Feminismus in den zwanziger Jahren
In: Lenz, Ilse; Mae, Michiko (Ed.) Bilder Wirklichkeit Zukunftsentwürfe: Geschlechterverhältnisse in Japan; Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Ostasien-Institut, Düsseldorfer Schriftenreihe Geschlechterforschung zu Japan. Düsseldorf: S. 103-126.


Fuess, Harald: Divorce in Japan: Family, Gender, and the State, 1600-2000. Stanford, Cal.: Stanford California Press, 2004, 226 S., $ 45,00
In: Schad-Seifert, Annette; Vogt, Gabriele (Ed.) Japanstudien 17. Deutschland in Japan (Germany in Japan). Japanstudien. München: iudicium Verlag.
Tomida, Hiroko: Hiratsuka Raichō and Early Japanese Feminism
In: Monumenta Nipponica 60, 2. Leiden; Boston: Brill. pp. 269-272.
Ueno, Chizuko: Nationalism and Gender
In: Asian Studies Review 28, 4 (December). Melbourne:
Mackie, Vera: Feminism in Modern Japan: Citizenship, Embodiment and Sexuality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003
In: Pacific Affairs, 77, 1 (Spring). pp.127-128.
Das Leiden an der Kultur (Suffering from Culture)Graefe, Ayako: Doitsu no haha o kaigo shite [Caring for My German Mother(-in-Law)]Neumann, Christoph: Darum nerven Japaner: Der ungeschminkte Wahnsinn des japanischen AlltagsCoulmas, Florian: Die Deutschen schreien: Von einem, der aus dem Land des Lächelns kam
In: Dolles, Harald; Ducke, Isa (Ed.) Japanstudien 15. Mißverständnisse in der Begegnung mit Japan. Japanstudien. Munich: iudicium Verlag. pp. 326-336.
Lenz, Ilse und Mae Michiko (Hg.): Getrennte Welten- gemeinsame Moderne? Geschlechterverhältnisse in Japan. Opladen: Leske und Budrich, 1997
In: metis, 14. S. 122-126.

Working Papers (Book)

[With: Germer, Andrea] Staat und Nation: Zum Verhältnis von Feminismus und Nationalstaat in Japan, 1918-1945. Working Papers | Reports. Tokyo: Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien. 31 p.
[With: Germer, Andrea] "The Inner and the Outer Domain" - Sexuality and the Nation-State in Feminist Historiography in Japan. Working Papers | Reports. Tokyo: Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien.
[With: Germer, Andrea] "A History of Woman": Nature, Culture, and the Category of the Slave. Working Papers | Reports. Tokyo: Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien.
[With: Germer, Andrea] On the Genesis of Feminist Historiography in Japan: National and International Perspectives. Working Papers | Reports. Tokyo: Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien.

Other Articles

Kokusai shinpojiumu ‘Jendā to kokumin kokka — Nihon ni tsuite no rekishiteki kōsatsu’. (The International Symposium ‘Gender and Nation: Historical Perspectives on Japan’)
In: Joseishigaku (Women’s Studies) 14. pp. 87-94.
Maternalistisches Denken in Japan. Nihon ni okeru boseiron
In: Die Brücke - Kakehashi, 552 (2002). p.10.


December 9, 2006
Images of the Nation: Representations of Gender, Race and Culture in Women’s Magazines of Wartime Japan and Germany. Representations of Gender, Race and Culture in Wartime Japan and Germany.

June 10, 2004 - June 12, 2004

June 10, 2004 - June 12, 2004

December 12, 2002 - December 14, 2002
Geschlecht und Nation: Feminismus und kultureller Nationalismus in der historischen Frauenbewegung Japans. The Omnipresence of Discourses of Self-Assertion in East Asia: Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Perspectives.

Curriculum Vitae

1985 - 1987
Major in Japanese Studies, minors were Political Science and English Literature, later German Literature at the University of Freiburg

Born in Freiburg im Breisgau

2001, since Sept.
Research associate at the German Institute for Japanese Studies

Completed the Ph.D. at Ruhr-University Bochum with the dissertation on “Women’s History in Japan. The Reconstruction of the Past in Takamure Itsue’s Josei no rekishi (A History of Woman) 1954-1958”

Research scholarship from the DAAD (German Academic Exchance Service) at Ritsumeikan University

1996 - 1999
Ph.D. scholarship from Heinrich-Boell-Foundation

Ph.D. program at the Faculty for East Asian Studies at Ruhr-University Bochum

1995 - 1996
Fellow of the Women’s Studies Network of North-Rhine-Westfalia

1990 - 1994
Master’s program at the University of Heidelberg, M.A. degree

1988 - 1990
Language studies and studies in modern Japanese literature at Kyoto University of Foreign Languages and at Kobe University