Call for Papers: Post-WWII Reeducation in Germany, Japan, and Beyond


Conference at the German Historical Institute at Washington, D.C., September 28-30, 2017

Proposals accepted till March 15, 2017

Organized by Katharina Gerund, Heike Paul (FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg), and Tomoyuki Sasaki (College of William & Mary, Williamsburg)

The post-World War II program of “reeducation” is both culturally and locally specific as well as global: it is localized in particular national and subnational arenas and brought to bear upon the minds of the ‘defeated’/liberated residents of those places; at the same time reeducation policies create a semi-global stage as well as site-specific laboratories for reform, involving a transpacific as well as a transatlantic sphere of US influence. This conference seeks to engage in “comparative reeducation studies” and to explore how US reeducation policies after World War II were designed and enacted with regard to specific audiences in different places (1), how they were received and reworked in their respective target societies (Germany, Japan, and beyond) (2), and what kind of repercussions this may have had for US discourses of democracy, war, and militarism as well as constructions of cultural difference and victimhood in the larger social field, cultural imaginary, and long-term historical development (3). Setting aside one of the dominant angles of interpretation that views reeducation more as a prelude to cold war cultural diplomacy, we invite contributions that consider reeducation as a project in its own right and thus do the groundwork for further cross-cultural and transnational comparisons. Thus, we also welcome papers that explore how we can connect the arenas of reeducation proper to settings in which US efforts of cultural diplomacy also made itself felt at around the same time (Italy, Korea, Latin America). Following the transnational turn in the larger field of American studies, we seek contributions that address the phenomenon of reeducation (in a broader sense) with regard to international networks and interdependencies.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

Reeducation and Gender (women as one focus group of reeducation; the changing of gender roles in post-war Japan, Germany and the US; representations of women in Japan and Germany in US media; constructions of femininity and masculinity in Japan and Germany; a new post-war women’s consumer culture in Japan and Germany; historicizing the sexual politics of reeducation in comparative perspective)

Reeducation and Race (war and post-war discourses of racial difference in the US, Japan, and Germany in comparative perspective and in light of post-war encounters ‘abroad’; strategies of racial othering – or the opposite thereof – in reeducation policies; antisemitism and racism in perspective)

Reeducation and Youth (children and adolescents as another important focus group of reeducation; metaphors of childhood: Germans as ‘bad,’ ‘sick’ children who need to be ‘taught’ [infantilization of the German adult population]; ambiguous constructions of childhood and questions of responsibility and guilt; generational affiliations and generation gap in responses to Reeducation)

Institutions and/of Reeducation (strategies of de-militarization and re-militarization; the making of the German “Staatsbürger in Uniform” and the Japanese “self-defense forces”; Okinawa’s ‘state of exception,’ educational reform, the democratic curriculum, and the origins of political education; a new popular culture of empiricism, involving market research, quizzes for entertainment, and statistics)

Intellectual History and Reeducation (historicizing theories of reform, therapy, social engineering, and cultural mobility, revisiting Brickner’s Is Germany Incurable? in light of discourses of reform in the US and abroad; Progressivism and Reeducation; Reeducation and Empire; “comparative reeducation studies”)

Please submit paper proposals (max. 500 words) and a short CV by March 15, 2017.

Proposals should be sent to the following three organizers:

Katharina Gerund:

Heike Paul:

Tomoyuki Sasaki:

Questions about this conference can be addressed to any of these three.

About Paula

Paula lives in the vortex of academic life. She studies medieval Japanese history.
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