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Under the Shadow of Nationalism

Under the Shadow of Nationalism: Politics and Poetics of Rural Japanese Women

Mariko Asano Tamanoi
Copyright Date: 1998
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    Under the Shadow of Nationalism
    Book Description:

    The contribution of rural women to the creation and expansion of the Japanese nation-state is undeniable. As early as the nineteenth century, the women of central Japan's Nagano prefecture in particular provided abundant and cheap labor for a number of industries, most notably the silk spinning industry. Rural women from Nagano could also be found working, from a very young age, as nursemaids, domestic servants, and farm laborers.

    In whatever capacity they worked, these women became the objects of scrutiny and reform in a variety of nationalist discourses--not only because of the importance of their labor to the nation, but also because of their gender and domicile (the countryside was the centerpiece of state ideology and practice before and during the war, during the Occupation, and beyond).

    Under the Shadow of Nationalismexplores the interconnectedness of nationalism and gender in the context of modern Japan. It combines the author's long-term field research with a painstaking examination of the documents behind these discourses produced at various levels of society, from the national (government records, social reformers' reports, ethnographic data) to the local (teachers' manuals, labor activists' accounts, village newspapers). It provides a wide-ranging yet in-depth look at a key group of Japanese women as national subjects through the critical chapters of Japanese modernity and postmodernity.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6539-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Chapter 1 Introduction: Japanese Nationalism and Rural Women
    (pp. 1-24)

    while acknowledging that every word inscribed in the present text has a history of its own, I intend to focus on only a few. I single out for study “Japanese nation/nationalism,” “rural,” and “women” because I am interested in the way in which the category of “rural women” emerged in the discourse of “Japanese nationalism” at the turn of the century and continues to be used to maintain national boundaries to the present.

    However, I do not believe that “rural women” is the product of discourse alone. Nondiscursive practices, such as institutional and pedagogic ones, have played important roles in...

  5. Chapter 2 Fieldwork
    (pp. 25-54)

    Under the warm sun of early afternoon, nothing seems to move. Only once every two hours, an incoming train breaks the silence. The big sign erected by the railroad reads, “Let Us Not Scrap the Iida Line,” a testimony to a decrease in local train use and an increase in car ownership.

    In the early spring of 1984, my three-year-old daughter and I moved into a house in the village of Tabata, located in the southern part of Nagano prefecture. We rented this house from a woman who had joined her daughter and her family in Tokyo after her husband’s...

  6. Chapter 3 Komori
    (pp. 55-84)

    komori” is a generic term that consists of a noun, “ko” (child), and a verb, “moru” (to protect or to take care of); Japanese use it to refer to any person, male or female, old or young, who takes care of children. In this chapter, however, I focus on the young girls, hired by families in need of child care in the Nagano countryside in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, who were calledkomori.

    In hisCenturies of Childhood(1962), Philippe Ariès explains that “the idea of childhood,” that is, an awareness of the particular nature of childhood,...

  7. Chapter 4 Factory Women
    (pp. 85-114)

    yes,komorigrew, physically and intellectually, protesting in their songs against upper- and middle-class commentaries and observations of them. And in the next phase of their life cycle, most of them engaged in silk spinning at modern “factories,” the symbol of the industrial revolution. The transition in their work fromkomorito silk spinners working at modern factories can be discerned in at least three different domains.

    First is the narratives of the rural women themselves. “In those days, we could work only askomorior factory women. I went to the silk spinning factory after I had worked as...

  8. Chapter 5 The Countryside and the City 1: Yanagita Kunio and Japanese Native Ethnology
    (pp. 115-136)

    i have argued that the silk industry was a central feature of Japanese nationalism from the very beginning of the Meiji period. Even after the 1880s, silk factory women were national subjects, while constantly being monitored for their “women’s morality” and their sexuality. What was their status when the silk industry declined in the 1920s? To answer this question, I must depend on the formulation of “the country(side) and the city.”¹ This is because certain nationalist discourses during this period manipulated this dichotomy in order to keep the factory women in the silk industry as national subjects: those who returned...

  9. Chapter 6 The Countryside and the City 2: Agrarianism among Nagano Middling Farmers
    (pp. 137-156)

    yanagita left thousands of books and articles on his perceptions of rural women and his vision of nation building. Did the middling farmers in Nagano also leave us their writings? In 1990, I visited Ueda Hakubutsukan (Ueda History Museum), located on the compound of Ueda Castle Park. Ueda, which became an administrative city in southern Nagano in 1919, was first developed as a castle town in the sixteenth century. Since then it has served as a commercial center, surrounded by numerous villages, many of which have now been incorporated into the city itself. At the museum, I found piles of...

  10. Chapter 7 The Wartime Period
    (pp. 157-178)

    in the previous two chapters, I argued that students of Japanese native ethnology as well as Nagano middling farmers tried to imagine a national community by identifying agrarian life as a “principle of social cohesion.” In order to do so, they relied heavily on the discursive category of “rural women.” However, they spoke for rural women without allowing them to speak themselves. My goal in this chapter is to elucidate rural women’s voices from the past and in their memories. Before attempting to do so, I will ask the following question: Was the Japanese countryside in the early twentieth century...

  11. Chapter 8 The Postwar “Democracy” and the Post-postwar Nationalism
    (pp. 179-206)

    in this chapter, I will divide the postwar period into two periods. I will call the first, from 1945 to the early 1970s, the (immediate) postwar period and the second, from the early 1970s to the present, the post-postwar period. The latter, a rather cumbersome phrase, connotes that the postwar period is not yet over in Japan. This periodization is different from the one used in theWhite Paper on Japanese Economypublished in 1976 (Keizai Kikaku-chō 1976). The authors, bureaucrats of the National Institute of Economic Planning, declared that the postwar period (sengo) had ended in 1956. That was...

  12. Epilogue: A Short Critique of the Notion of Identity
    (pp. 207-208)

    while England was still at war, Virginia Woolf tried to understand British nationalism and patriotism from the vantage point of the “daughters of educated men” in England, for whom the army, the navy, the stock exchange, the diplomatic service, the church, the press, the civil service, and the bar were still largely closed. InThree Guineas, which first appeared in 1938, Woolf provided answers to three separate requests she received for a guinea—one from the treasurer of a women’s college, one from the society for obtaining employment for professional women, and the third from the society to prevent war....

  13. Notes
    (pp. 209-238)
  14. References
    (pp. 239-262)
  15. Index
    (pp. 263-274)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 275-275)