“This Does Not Concern Us Alone”: Reframing Japanese Film and Media through Transnationalism and Trauma

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2023-08

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Abstract

This dissertation attends to aspects of Japan’s history problem—the divisive memories of conflict and trauma undergirding the contentious politics surrounding Japan’s pacifist constitution, concern of remilitarization, and lasting tensions across East Asia. In doing so, this project reframes narratives of Japan’s history problem through the prism of Japan’s media and culture industries. This dissertation also foregrounds moments of crisis across Japan’s modern history through a constellation of mediated representations, responses, and engagements that have and continue to serve a variety of interests within and beyond Japan’s physical and ideological borders. Drawing on the notion that crisis can denote both catastrophe and opportunity, this dissertation uncovers the entanglements of Japan’s media and culture industries and the ways in which they have historically responded to and shaped moments of ecological disaster, conflict and devastation, cultural memory, and transnational engagement. In the process, this dissertation unseats the centrality of Japan’s defeat in 1945 as the bedrock of Japan’s ongoing history problem. Rather, this dissertation offers a constellated history of media and crisis that argues for vital connections between and across the broad, connective threads of media industries, cultural trauma, and collective memory to bring into focus a more fully developed picture of Japan within a transnational and transpacific sphere. Such a picture disrupts the Manichaean image of a pre-defeat/postwar Japan and instead draws attention to the complex network of transnational influences, imperial legacies, media practices, and entwinements of visual culture and ideology that formed the basis of Japan’s history problem well before its defeat in 1945.


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Keywords

film studies, Japanese cinema, trauma studies, transnationalism, crisis

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