Dr. Christopher Gerteis -Postdoctoral Associate, Council on East Asian Studies at Yale University
Christopher Gerteis will explore how women members of the Japan Railway Workers’ Union, Kokurô, recorded in poetry and prose their experiences of the highly politicized union activism characteristic of public sector workplaces during the 1950s. Scholarship to date argues that there were significant continuities with the prewar period in the way many postwar social institutions re-constituted gender roles for men and women. Indeed,
the labor movement is particularly well known for having reasserted normative social roles that made women’s status secondary to that of men.
However, Dr. Gerteis will introduce the radical poetics produced by a significant minority of women union activists in order to illustrate how some union women used their poetry to challenge the way male union leaders had paid lip service to gender equity while embracing gender ideologies that relegated women to the periphery of the labor movement.