Rewriting the 1968 in Japan: between myth and disillusionment

Maja Vodopivec (Leiden University )
Minoru Iwasaki (Tokyo University of Foreign Studies)
Bloco 1, Piso 0, Sala 0.09
Start time:
31 August, 2017 at 14:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

This panel attempts to demonstrate that 1968 is not a nostalgic story or a myth to be dismissed. While standing between the myth of 1968 and disillusionment, we will discuss Katō's Words and tanks, imagery of life and death, and women and disabled discourse from the present point of view.

Long abstract:

Half of a century has passed since 1968. Same as in Europe, 1968 in Japan was springtime of life of the baby boomers. When time came for this generation to retire from active role in society, it seems that while taking a distance, this period became widely rewritten and remembered from a number of aspects. However, this attempt for retrospective went beyond this and showed that there is also a deep feeling of loss in this generation since various frameworks and premises that allowed for the experience of 1968 era have severely collapsed, been transformed or disappeared. What aporia of era of 1968 and its radicalism has been embraced, and what logic and sensibility of intellectuals and students at the front of that aporia has been crystalized? This panel is an attempt to consider such questions from several different angles. One is an attempt to read about the tension relationship held by intellectuals in that period, through the "Words and tanks" (Kotoba to sensha) text written by Katō Shūichi, a representative postwar intellectual. Another is an attempt to consider reasons for today's complete invisibility of an implicit reference relationship between images of life and death of the fighting and defeated students. Finally, an imposed legacy of this struggle's tensions and contradictions on later generations' feelings and body, within a discourse on women and the disabled, will be discussed. We do not expect to come up with a unified conclusion on the basis of these three angles. However, we would like to demonstrate that story of 1968 is not a nostalgic story or a myth to be simply dismissed. And, while standing between the myth of 1968 and disillusionment, we want to continue to fumble with unexplored possibility nurtured once again in the time we live in now.