Creating Showa memories in contemporary Japan: Discourse, society, history, and subjectivity.
KeywordsAnthropology and history.
Committee ChairPhilips, Susan U.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe present discourse-centered study examines how Japanese people currently in their sixties construct, in and through discourse, their memories of the indigenous historical era called Showa (1926-1989). These contemporaries are particularly called Showa hitoketa ("Showa single digit") since they were born between 1926 and 1934, or during the first nine years (i.e., single-digit years) of the era. As Showa has been often referred to as the "turbulent era" mainly because of its dramatic transformations caused by the nation's defeat in World War II, the generation of Showa hitoketa also has been widely discussed in the postwar Japanese society because of their particular ways of experiencing this historical period. By analyzing their concrete instances of discourses which emerged during our ethnographic interviews, I delineate the dynamic processes of meaning creation, and the interactions between discourse, society, history, and subjectivity. In particular, I focus on the Showa hitoketa informants' personal experience narratives of wartime as significant sites of their Showa memories. Based on my linguistic, semiotic, and interpretive approach to their narrative constructions of the past, I capture how each speaker generates specific experiential meanings, creates particular self-identities, authenticates his/her own memories, and establishes his/her understanding of the era itself. My exploration of the interdependence between text and context inherent in narrative discourse is crucial for the deeper understanding of how the speakers create meaning-filled memories of Showa. By focusing on the metapragmatic functions of signs in narrative discourse, I illustrate how the past is indexically linked to the present, and also how the self is indexically connected to others. The nature of the relationship between these elements is critically important for the investigation of how my informants as Showa historical actors create epistemological, ideological, and affective meanings of their memories. The era of Showa consists of several disjunctive moments for each individual, yet my informants construct their sense of continuity and coherence by transforming their experiences into narrative language.