Sabine Frühstück - Professor, East Asian Languages & Cultural Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara
In this talk, Frühstück examines the “use value” of children—as well as the necessity and inevitability of such use—in the ideological reproduction of modern war and empire building. She asks how a large body of pictures and narratives that tie soldiers to children have reproduced a multi-sensory emotional register that has been attributed to and drew from a specific modern conceptualization of the child: the assumption that children were politically innocent, morally pure, and endowed with authentic feelings; and the expectation that adults would respond to the sight of children with a predictable set of emotions. Frühstück argues that this “emotional capital” has been primarily employed through the unapologetic insinuation of sentiments such as sympathy, empathy, friendship, familiarity, and gratitude. In so doing, the child’s vulnerability, innocence, and malleability—all considered innate characteristics—were enlisted in order to offer a sense of redemption in the wake of extreme mass violence and a form of appeasement to children and the home front population a large.
Sabine Frühstück researches modern and contemporary Japanese culture and its relationship to other parts of the world. She is the author of Playing War: Children and the Paradoxes of Modern Militarism in Japan (2017), a cultural history of the naturalized connections between childhood and militarism, Uneasy Warriors: Gender, Memory and Popular Culture in the Japanese Army (2007), an ethnography, and Colonizing Sex: Sexology and Social Control in Modern Japan (2003), a sociohistorical study of the creation, formation, and application of a “science of sex” from the late 19th through the mid-20th century.