Performing World War II memories : nation, citizen, and audience in contemporary Japan

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This dissertation explores the relationship between performances of World War II memories and the construction of national identities in Japan's changing political, social, and cultural landscapes from 1989 to the present. I describe the contemporary period in Japan as in a memory crisis. Dominant memories of WWII continue to imagine the nation and citizen through narratives of victimhood. In the contemporary period, however, the shifting power structure in Asia, along with the passing of the wartime generation, prompted survivors of Japanese WWII aggression to come forward in public outcry. As a result, debates about the form and content of Japanese public memories arose across the region. My dissertation intervenes in current memory debates by identifying performance as a vehicle of memory at varying levels of Japanese society. Using a performative analysis, I first examine the construction of dominant narratives of WWII memories. I investigate how the Yasukuni Shinto Shrine in Tokyo, devoted to commemorating the war dead, stages an established, pro-military narrative of WWII memory. The layout of Yasukuni's complex choreographs the visitor to perform the role of patriotic citizen. I then turn to performances that counter, revise, and challenge dominant narratives of WWII memory by modeling alternative processes of relating to the past. Examining controversies about remembering WWII in the contemporary period, including civilian responsibility, sexual violence, and the Battle of Okinawa, chapters engage performances that cast memories of WWII as multiple, fragmented, and transnational to challenge conceptions of nation and citizen constructed by dominant memories of the war.


Type of resource text
Form electronic; electronic resource; remote
Extent 1 online resource.
Publication date 2014
Issuance monographic
Language English


Associated with Nakamura, Jessica
Associated with Stanford University, Department of Theater and Performance Studies.
Primary advisor Menon, Jisha, 1972-
Thesis advisor Menon, Jisha, 1972-
Thesis advisor Eckersall, Peter
Thesis advisor Jakovljević, Branislav
Thesis advisor Uchida, Jun
Advisor Eckersall, Peter
Advisor Jakovljević, Branislav
Advisor Uchida, Jun


Genre Theses

Bibliographic information

Statement of responsibility Jessica Nakamura.
Note Submitted to the Department of Theater and Performance Studies.
Thesis Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2014.
Location electronic resource

Access conditions

© 2014 by Jessica Chiyo Nakamura
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).

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