The Culture of Japanese Fascism

The other day I received my copy of The Culture of Japanese Fascism, a long-awaited anthology edited by Alan Tansman in which I have an article. "Long-awaited" is one way of putting it: the book is based on a conference actually held at Berkeley back in 2001. It probably took that long getting everyone together, but it was well worth the wait. The book not only presents the cultural dimension of Japanese interwar fascism, one that has not been fully explored, but it does it from a variety of perspectives that do not simply assume a universal "fascism" and find examples of that in Japan, but attempt to understand the particular manifestations of state and nationalist power in Japanese culture. My essay, "Narrating the Nation-ality of a Cinema," for instance, complicates the easy ascription of the term "fascist" to prewar film if one defines fascism, in part, as a form of ultra-nationalism. I argue that the process of Japanese cinema assuming "nation-ality" (the state of being national) was in fact complicated by problems in the film industry and the colonial situation, and was not "already the case" by the start of the period of total mobilization. In the end, I argue that fascism in cinema is less the representation in cinema of the state of ultra-nationalism than the process of forcing nation-ality on a cinema and its audiences that are never already national. 

Michael Baskett contributes another piece on imperial film culture and there are exciting contributions by many former teachers and current colleagues such as Harry Harootunian, Noriko Aso, Kevin Doak, Richard Torrance, Kim Brandt, Angus Lockyer, James Dorsey, and others. An important book that I hope sparks some good discussion--hopefully sooner rather than later!

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Table of Contents:

Fascism seen and unseen: fascism as a problem in cultural representation / Kevin M. Doak

The people's library: the spirit of prose literature versus fascism / Richard Torrance

Constitutive ambiguities: the persistence of modernism and fascism in Japan's modern history / Harry Harootunian

The beauty of labor: imagining factory girls in Japan's new order / Kim Brandt

Mediating the masses: Yanagi Sōetsu and fascism / Noriko Aso

Fascism's furry friends: dogs, national identity, and purity of blood in 1930s Japan / Aaron Skabelund

Narrating the nation-ality of a cinema: the case of Japanese prewar film / Aaron Gerow

All beautiful fascists?: Axis film culture in imperial Japan / Michael Baskett

Architecture for mass-mobilization: the Chūreitō memorial construction movement, 1939-1945 / Akiko Takenaka

Japan's imperial diet building in the debate over construction of a national identity / Jonathan M. Reynolds

Expo fascism?: ideology, representation, economy / Angus Lockyer

The work of sacrifice in the age of mechanical reproduction: bride dolls and ritual appropriation at Yasukuni Shrine / Ellen Schattschneider

Fascist aesthetics and the politics of representation in Kawabata Yasunari / Nina Cornyetz

Disciplining the erotic-grotesque in Edogawa Ranpo's Demon of the lonely isle / Jim Reichert

Hamaosociality: narrative and fascism in Hamao Shirō's The devil's disciple / Keith Vincent

Literary tropes, rhetorical looping, and the nine gods of war: "fascist proclivities" made real / James Dorsey

The Spanish perspective: Romancero Marroquí and the Francoist kitsch politics of time / Alejandro Yarza.

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