Introduction: Gender, Nation and State in Modern Japan
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To most people in the modern world the categories of gender and nationality seem natural and self-evident. However, historical scholarship has demonstrated that the categories of 'gender' and 'nation' are culturally constructed and historically contingent. We are now very familiar with Benedict Anderson's oft-quoted phrase that nationalism involves the construction of an 'imagined community', whereby a group of people from disparate backgrounds come to imagine themselves as sharing certain characteristics and traditions which constitute their belonging to the imagined community of the nation. In a suggestive passage, Anderson (1991: 5) explains that we have a 'nationality' in much the same way as we have a 'gender': pointing to the importance of both of these categories for individual identity formation, but also suggesting the constructedness of both of these categories. Unfortunately, however, Anderson pays little attention to the ways in which gendered identities and national identities are mutually constitutive: that national identities, in other words, are experienced in gender-specific ways in different national contexts (Pierson 2000: 41; Germer 2007: 39). In this volume we explore the historical construction and mutual imbrication of the categories of nation, state and gender in modern Japan.
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