Organized Panel Session
Recent scholarship has examined the relationship between the Japanese state and issues of body culture, fitness, and media. Yet, much of the work of studying the taste, style, and aesthetic of the human physique has occurred within disciplines, or in the context of specific decades. By bringing together divergent fields and examining topics extending from the 1920s through the 1950s, this panel aims to go beyond divisions of discipline and decade to consider the arc of trans-war Japanese conceptualizations of the aestheticized body as related to the Japanese state. Through the film star and the fashion model, Hayter considers the spectacularization of the female body in the 1920s, attentive to the tensions between mass consumer culture and imperial ideology. Rodman considers the dancing body as kokutai in the 1930s through the figure of the modern dancer Itō Michio. Miller looks at representations of fitness and imperial bodies in nihonga of modern girls skiing, connecting the paintings to the 1930s bureaucratic interest in women’s physical conditioning, as well as the unrealized 1940 Olympics. Crandol examines the post-Occupation relaxation of government film censorship, its relationship to female nudity, and movie stardom in the 1950s. Bringing together these different disciplinary objects and methods in discussion, the panel will expand conceptualizations of the relationships between the visual, the corporeal, and the national, in order to understand what cemented official ideology and what pushed the boundaries of accepted bodies in mid-twentieth century Japan.