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Memories of Cinema-Going in Postwar Japan: An Ethno-history

  • Jennifer Coates (University of Sheffield)
Tuesday 10 October 2023
Leiden Lecture Series in Japanese Studies
On campus (Lipsius 1.21) and online via Zoom

This lecture will be held via Zoom: click here for the link.


From the beginning of the Allied Occupation of Japan (1945-1952), the General Headquarters of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP GHQ) identified the cinema as a means to reshape popular attitudes, re-educating Japanese citizens away from the nationalist ideologies that had characterized wartime. This talk presents material from an ethnographic study of cinema-going in postwar Japan that began with the simple question, “Can cinema content change social attitudes?” Over four years of fieldwork in the Kansai region of Western Japan (2014-2018), this study evolved into a consideration of the role of cinema-going and film viewership, broadly conceived, on the formation of a sense of self in the generation that grew up under Occupation. Focusing on the discourse around cinema, rather than a close reading of cinema texts, this project reveals the usefulness of taking talking about cinema seriously as a mode of exploring difficult historical issues.

About Jennifer Coates

Jennifer Coates is Professor of Japanese Studies at the School of East Asian Studies, University of Sheffield. She is the author of Making Icons: Repetition and the Female Image in Japanese Cinema, 1945-1964 (Hong Kong University Press 2016) and Film Viewing in Postwar Japan, 1945-1968: An Ethnographic Study (Edinburgh University Press, 2022) as well as a number of journal articles and book chapters on cinema and audiences in postwar and contemporary Japan. Jennifer is a AHRC Innovation Scholar and recipient of the 2021 Philip Leverhulme Prize for Visual and Performing Arts.

Link to the lecture (Zoom)

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