An Abled Nation: Disabled Athletes in Japan and How Their Bodies are Governed
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis thesis analyzes the ways in which the Japanese state uses the disabled body and disability athletics as a tool of governance and how that affects the incorporation of disabled people into Japanese society. Throughout Japan's history the disability identity has been a subject of negotiation between social actors including the government, general public, those with disabilities, and powerful international collectives. After World War II, disabled former soldiers were celebrated for their national sacrifice while other disabled bodies were displaced. In later decades, disability athletics became a space where the symbol of the ideal disabled body has been promoted for public consumption. On the stage of athletics, various actors have shaped and influenced each other by advocating different visions of the disabled body in Japanese society. Disabled athletes negotiate depictions of disability as idealized (the 'super crip') or stigmatized (the 'pitiable disabled person'), and these depictions in turn create public expectations for what the disabled body should be but at times glosses over the struggles of many disabled people. The purpose of this thesis is to consider how notions of the disabled body are used to negotiate nationalism, modern ideas of care and social responsibility, and expectations to become a body of inspiration for the disabled community and the general public. The core question is: What are the implications of the disabled body being used as a tool on the stage of disability athletics for governance in modern day Japan? The thesis will provide a basis for deeper understanding about the relevance of disability athletics as both a form of governance and a site of identity formation for the disabled.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
East Asian Studies