Amy Borovoy - Assistant Professor in East Asian Studies, Princeton University
The talk will explore postwar Nihonjinron writings as a way of translating prewar national ideologies into ideas that could be compatible with postwar democracy. The humanistic portrayals of community put forward by Nihonjinron writers drew on prewar notions of familiality and homogeneity, ideas closely associated fascism. The talk considers the importance of Nihonjinron in forging a language that could accommodate the past while at the same time offering ideas about community that could challenge Western liberalism, specifically its division between public exchange and private beliefs. American observers of Japan during the high-growth era looked to Japan as a place in which community could be accommodated within the framework of modern capitalism. These tensions between community and homogeneity continue to inhabit Japan studies.