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Power, Play, and Dialogic Imagination in Late Tokugawa Japan

Colloquium with Katsuya Hirano, History, Cornell University

Monday, June 02, 2008
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Faculty Center
Hacienda Room
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Japan's early modern regime (the Tokugawa bakufu,1603-1868) had since its establishment considered the domestication of the body, especially that of the common person, an integral part of the complex set of strategies of constructing and maintaining social order. By diminishing bodily desire and excesses and condemning the body to productive labor, the regime sought to create a subject whose actions were devoted to the task of providing for the material needs of its system of domination. Yet, from the late eighteenth century onward, the vibrant urban culture of Edo began to transform the body into a site of an almost inexhaustible source for the production of new subject positions and identities, which threw into disarray the hierarchical classification system of social relations (meibun). The talk will investigate the crucial intersection of culture and politics in late Tokugawa Japan with a focus on how the body was transmuted into a site of transgressive and transformative power. It will also probe into the broader historical implications of this new cultural configuration and its logic of identity or the conception of the social.

The event is free and open to UCLA faculty, students, staff, and invited guests.

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