Stories for the Nation: Rewriting History in Manga
In recent decades, Japan’s manga market has become an alternative stage for historical and political debate. While in the past, manga has typically dealt with Japan’s wartime traumas in an implicit and indirect manner, recently there have been a few conscious attempts to utilize the manga industry as a medium to convey political messages which are not represented in the mainstream media. Two highly publicized examples are Yamano Sharin's Manga Kenkanryū (Hating the Korean Wave) and Kobayashi Yoshinori’s popular Sensōron (Theory of War) series, which portray Chinese and Koreans as enemies to the state and urge their readers to refute the conventional "masochist" version of Japan’s modern history
In this talk, I will examine the way in which the past is being evoked—not in the traditional form of textbooks, museums, monuments, and state rituals but rather as a past which is insinuated in the surroundings through the experience of manga. The investigation focuses on Japan's manga industry as a medium for political and historical expression and debate, and its role in propagating new perceptions of Japan’s wartime history. As part of this investigation, the talk will introduce the concept of “banal memory” to analyze the way in which everyday popular culture—such as reading manga—becomes part of the construction of national memory.
Dr. Nissim Otmazgin is the Chair of the Department of Asian Studies, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Associate Director of the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace. His research interests include Japan-Southeast Asian relations, Japanese popular culture in Asia, and popular culture and regionalization in East and Southeast Asia and he has conducted extensive fieldwork in Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, Bangkok, and Seoul. He is the author of Regionalizing Culture: the Political Economy of Japanese Popular Culture in Asia (University of Hawaii Press, 2013), and (together with Miki Daliot-Bul) The Anime Boom in the US: Lessons for Global Creative Industries (Harvard Asia Center, forthcoming).