One Station from Yoyogi: Revolution and Abjection in Shinjuku
Paper short abstract:
I address the creation of a key politicized space in Shinjuku during the late 1960s, with particular focus on the role of marginalized sociopolitical identities and practices, and in turn, the centrality of Shinjuku in national political struggles over the legitimacy of protest and force.
Paper long abstract:
In my paper, I address the creation of a key politicized space in Shinjuku during the late 1960s, with particular focus on the role of marginalized sociopolitical identities and practices, and in turn, the centrality of Shinjuku in national political struggles over the legitimacy of protest and force. Divided west to east by a high-traffic train station, Shinjuku in the late 1960s was a site both for massive state investments in the future of the capital and nation, and for improvisational spaces of a radical and internationalized youth culture of dissent. Shinjuku's west side was a primary focus for Tokyo's intensifying economic and infrastructural development, a zone for heavily promoted international investments in Tokyo's first skyscrapers—but also one rapidly claimed by bike gangs enjoying the newly-laid spacious roads. Conversely, the eastern side brought together the afterlives of the black markets and a banned sex trade with a youth counterculture figured in the abject category of "fūten" (layabouts). Decried in media panics and in activist writings alike, such unscripted hanging out attracted youth from far and wide, and paradoxically leant the area an air of possibility—and provided a pivotal catalyst to political actions centered on the station, through which jet fuel and US military personnel were found to pass regularly. As described in the top secret CIA study, "Restless Youth," a strong part of the global phenomena of the 1960s was the recognition by youth of kindred struggles through a shared and insurgent cultural politics, and Shinjuku was a nexus for such contacts. Reflecting on this as both a deep synchronicity and a new kind of international, mediatized, yet oppositional phenomena, I consider the relation between a politics of violence and space, and the radical cultural politics of the moment, including art, theater, and counterculture. I further consider the relations between space and subjectivation as mobile processes, and the significance of these struggles in thinking about the transnational, global dimensions of 1968.
Out of Step and Out of Time: Insurgent and Abject Cultures ca. 1923, 1945, 1968